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Army of the Dead

In 2004, Zack Snyder made his directorial debut with the zombie movie remake ‘Dawn of the Dead’. He has since become an expert in big epic films such as ‘Man of Steel, ‘300’ and ‘Batman vs Superman’. His ability to combine small, emotional stories on a huge canvas has seen great success. Although on the surface, an outrageous zombie flick, ‘Army of the Dead’ is in the same vein. Delivering an eye-full of action, it plays out is family dramas between explosions in the grandiose manner for which Snyder is renowned.

A wealthy Las Vegas casino owner hires former mercenary Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) to retrieve $200 million from his Vegas vault. With the city overrun by blood-thirsty and intelligent zombies and a nuclear strike about to hit the gambling town within 24 hours, Ward and his crew have their work cut out. Among his unit is his daughter Kate (Ella Purnell) who is estranged from her father. While dealing with family issues, Ward battles the undead plague as the clock ticks ever closer to doom.

Playing out like a zombie heist film, ‘Army of the Dead’ is exciting fun. That’s not something usually said about Snyder’s movies with many being very serious and occasionally slow affairs. Although its run-time is equally long, ‘Army of the Dead’ moves much faster than the zombies within it. To be fair event the undead creatures move quickly, with their ferocious natures starkly on display. Their presence lends a genuine sense of danger, even with the added threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over the characters. This allows the plot to have a focus as well as the personal issues all face.

‘Army of the Dead’ isn’t exactly the type of movie you’d expect to have great acting. It does due to the earnest conviction the performers bring. Bautista has evolved into a fine leading man, at once heroic and vulnerable despite his ample girth. His co-stars enter into the story’s spirit with gusto, relishing the blend of humour, drama and action. The latter is shown in the grandest Snyder style, completely over the top but really exciting to watch. It’s definitely his funniest movie although still having a seriousness in the events surrounding his protagonists.

‘Army of the Dead’ is a wild ride only Snyder could create. Scary, funny and consistently engaging, it should appeal to fans of the genre. Always a creative director with a genuine sense of scale, it will be interesting seeing what Snyder conjures up next. If it’s as well handled as his latest effort then his future projects should be worth the wait.

Rating out of 10: 7

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX.

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