The first reviews for Netflix's Army of the Dead are in, so has director Zack Snyder managed to reinvent the zombie genre as he had hoped, or is the movie just another patchwork quilt of slow-motion sequences and nonsensical plot devices? Well, the movie currently holds a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes thus far, Snyder's highest ever score, so perhaps Army of the Dead will be worth a trip to zombie-infested Vegas after all.
Critic Owen Gleiberman from Variety thoroughly enjoyed the popcorn thrills of Army of the Dead, believing that there is more than enough going on to satisfy everyone.
"A stylishly grandiose, muscular but conventional popcorn pageant that's got something for just about everyone."
Charlie Ridgley of Comicbook.com also found a lot to like about the movie, despite some chaotic plotting, giving Army of the Dead a very impressive 4 out of 5.
"It's certainly messy at times and a couple of the subplots don't quite find their footing, but it's an imaginative and absolutely thrilling ride that is hard not to enjoy."
Aside from the action, many have praised the performance of Dave Bautista, with Robbie Collin of the Daily Telegraph saying, "Everyone here has been cast for their faces, not their names - and Snyder's camera examines the toll taken by the heist on each one of them closely, most of all Bautista's, which remains one of the most soulful in modern Hollywood."
Josh Wilding of ComicBookMovie.com echoed these sentiments saying that "Zack Snyder makes zombies cool again in Army of the Dead, but falls into bad habits along the way. Dave Bautista, however, steals the show, and the movie is fun, dumb, and wacky enough to make this a franchise we hope to sink our teeth into again."
Rolling Stone's K. Austin Collins argued that the zombie movie fails to properly flesh out certain elements, leaving some interesting details unexplored, relying instead on the talents of the ensemble cast.
"Because the movie doesn't - not even when going so far as to, say, give us a taste, a literal taste, of zombie-on-zombie, rotten-flesh-on-rotten-flesh romance - what winds up standing out isn't the movie itself, so much, but the cast carrying it."
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap felt similarly saying, "While it's the best film Snyder has made since his last of the Dead, it's also one that continually hints at the more satisfying work it might have been." Slashfilm's Chris Evangelista meanwhile certainly found a lot to enjoy, though wasn't sure whether this was a good thing, likening the experience to the seedy city at the movie's center; "There's a certain fun to be had in Army of the Dead, but it's the mindless, ugly fun that you wake up the next day regretting. Come to think of it, it's kind of like a trip to Las Vegas."
While the response has been largely positive, there have been some detractors, with Molly Freeman of Screen Rant finding Army of the Dead to be a shallow cinematic outing despite some thrilling action set pieces.
"Snyder's Army of the Dead delivers some compelling action and shocking visuals, but isn't clever or fun enough to be more than a shallow zombie flick."
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw too was far from enamored with Army of the Dead, finding the whole thing to be a humorless slog.
"It's all just one monumental splatterfest, where the zombies' army of the dead face off against people who aren't very alive, and all basically without jokes."
Of course, like most of Snyder's work, the director makes movies that tend to appeal to a very specific fanbase, for which Army of the Dead should prove very satisfying. At least according to Digital Spy's Ian Sandwell...
"Will Army of the Dead change the minds of Snyder critics? Probably not. But for Snyder fans and anybody in the mood for bloodthirsty zombie action, the movie hits the jackpot."
Directed by Zack Snyder, with a screenplay he co-wrote with Shay Hatten and Joby Harold, and starring an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Samantha Win, Huma Qureshi and Garret Dillahunt, Army of the Dead takes place following a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world.
Bautista leads the pack as Scott Ward, a displaced Vegas local and former zombie war hero who is now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home. Ward is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) with the ultimate proposition: Break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours. Driven by the hope that the payoff could help pave the way to a reconciliation with his estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a team of experts for the heist.
Scott soon finds an unexpected emotional hurdle when Kate joins the expedition to search for Geeta (Huma S. Qureshi), a mother who's gone missing inside the city. With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in, only one thing's for certain in the greatest heist ever attempted: survivors take all.
Army of the Dead is scheduled to be released in select theaters in the United States and digitally on Netflix on May 21, 2021. The first 15 minutes will be released during a special online event this Thursday. Despite evidence to the contrary, the streaming giant have a lot of faith in Snyder and his ability to spawn a franchise, with an Army of the Dead prequel, Army of Thieves, also being planned. The movie will center around one of the central characters from Army of the Dead, Ludwig Dieter (played by actor Matthias Schweighöfer), who will also step up as director , with the story exploring the initial days of the Las Vegas zombie outbreak.