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


The Tomorrow War

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery with Hollywood flattering other movies for decades. Films appear which seem very familiar as bits of what made others so successful put into a story’s narrative. ‘The Tomorrow War’ is one of those films. A bit of ‘Alien’, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ and especially the ‘Terminator’ series, ‘The Tomorrow War’ puts these pieces together like a jigsaw with originality barely seen.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is a biology teacher and former soldier feeling lost. Although happily married with a daughter, Dan attempts to find more life focus. He receives this in an unexpected way when soldiers from the future arrive warning of a devastating alien invasion. Called up to protect earth, Dan travels to the future where his perspective is swiftly changed. What he sees changes his life as he battles the evil invaders and secures a future for all.

‘The Tomorrow War’ is the type of film you see on a rainy day when you don’t want to think much. Whilst it attempts to have its characters go through an emotional journey, the weak writing and direction work against it. That isn’t to say ‘The Tomorrow War’ is terrible, just bland. Pratt is always a watchable presence but even he can’t enliven a humdrum script. The cast equip themselves well in the action scenes but the patchwork nature of the story finds the film moving in fits and starts than constant movement.

The most fun to be had watching ‘The Tomorrow War’ is seeing how many other films it rips off. There’s quite a few as it lurches towards its fiery conclusion. ‘The Tomorrow War’ isn’t too memorable, just something you enjoy while it’s on then forget when it’s over. The creature designs and CGI are the main stand outs and when it does work, ‘The Tomorrow War’ can be exciting. Overall it’s hampered by a lack of momentum and mediocre creative forces behind the scenes whose lack of passion for the movie is noticeable.

‘The Tomorrow War’ is a great film but it isn’t terrible either. It has a suitably over the top popcorn flavour to it but like the delicacy, is instantly forgettable once digested. The only war evident is the war on original writing as ‘The Tomorrow War’ makes one wish they were watching the better works it slavishly imitates.

Rating out of 10: 5