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Movie Reviews - Army of the De4d (2021)

Army of the De4d is a 2021 American zombie heist film directed by Zack Snyder from a screenplay he co-wrote with Shay Hatten and Joby Harold, based on a story he also created. The film features an ensemble cast consisting of Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma Qureshi, and Garret Dillahunt. It follows a group of mercenaries who plan a Las Vegas casino heist amid a zombie apocalypse.

Snyder conceived the idea for Army of the Dead as a spiritual successor to his 2004 debut film Dawn of the Dead. Originally from Warner Bros. Pictures, the project was announced in 2007 with Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. attached to direct. However, the film spent several years in development hell before Netflix acquired distribution rights in 2019. 

With a US$70–90 million production budget and Snyder also serving as cinematographer, principal photography took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, in mid-2019. The film underwent reshoots in September 2020 after several sexual misconduct allegations were made against cast member Chris D'Elia; he was replaced by Notaro using green screens and CGI.

Army of the Dead was released in select theaters in the United States on May 14, 2021, and was digitally released on Netflix on May 21. Critics praised the film for its humor and found it would appeal to fans of "both Snyder and ensemble action flicks," but criticized its runtime. It became one of the most-watched original Netflix films with an estimated 75 million viewers over its first four weeks while earning $1 million at the box office from its limited theatrical run. A prequel, titled Army of Thieves, was released on October 29, 2021. An anime series titled Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas is scheduled to be released on Netflix. A sequel, Planet of the Dead, is in development.

Army of the Dead - Movie Reviews

Army of the Dead Synopsys 

A United States military convoy traveling from Area 51 collides with a car on the highway outside Las Vegas. The convoy's cargo, a zombie, escapes, killing and infecting several soldiers before heading into the city. There, they infect most of the city's population. After a military intervention fails, the government quarantines the city.

Six years later, casino owner Bly Tanaka and his associate Martin approach former Las Vegas resident and mercenary Scott Ward about a job to recover $200 million from his casino vault in Las Vegas before the military deploys a tactical nuclear strike on the city. Ward agrees and recruits his former teammates Maria Cruz and Vanderohe, along with helicopter pilot Marianne Peters, German safecracker Ludwig Dieter, and Chicano sharpshooter Mikey Guzman, who brings along his associate Chambers. 

Martin joins the team to give them access to the casino. Ward's estranged daughter Kate, who works at a quarantine camp, directs them to Lilly, a smuggler familiar with the city, who also recruits Burt Cummings, an abusive camp security guard. When Kate learns Lilly escorted her friend Geeta into Las Vegas, Kate insists on joining the team over Ward's objections.

After an encounter with a zombified tiger upon entering Las Vegas, Lilly wounds Cummings and explains that a group of intelligent zombies known as "Alphas" will allow safe passage in exchange for a sacrifice. An Alpha female known as the Queen takes Cummings away to the Olympus casino, where the Alpha leader Zeus infects him. Lilly leads the team to a building full of hibernating, normal zombies. Ward creates a path through the zombies with glow sticks. When Chambers accuses Martin of ulterior motives, he diverts her off the path, and she wakes the zombies. After she is surrounded and bitten, Guzman shoots the gasoline canister on her back, killing her and the surrounding zombie horde.

Arriving at Bly's casino, Ward and Kate turn on the power, Peters prepares a helicopter on the roof, and Dieter works on the vault. Martin and Lilly stay outside under the pretense of keeping watch but instead lure the Queen into the open. Martin beheads her and takes her head. Zeus discovers her body and returns her to the Olympus casino, revealing that the Queen was pregnant with a zombie fetus. 

Enraged, Zeus directs the Alphas to the casino. A news report reveals the government has brought forward the nuclear strike, giving the team approximately 90 minutes. As Dieter opens the vault, Ward discovers Kate had left to look for Geeta. As Ward and Cruz are about to search for her, the Alphas appear and kill Cruz.

Martin traps the team in the basement, explaining that Bly cares only about the zombie head, which can create a zombie army for the government and is worth more than the money in the vault. When he steps outside, he discovers Lilly stole the Queen's head, and the tiger mauls him to death. Vanderohe attempts to fight Zeus but is easily overpowered. 

Dieter sacrifices himself to get Vanderohe into the vault safely. Ward, Lilly, and Guzman make it to the lobby, where zombies attack them and swarm Guzman, who detonates his grenades, killing the zombies at the cost of his own life and destroying the money he carried. Zeus confronts them on the roof. Lilly distracts him with the Queen's head as Ward and Peters escape. Zeus fatally impales Lilly, who destroys the head by dropping it off the roof.

Peters takes Ward to the Olympus casino to retrieve Kate. Inside, Kate finds Geeta and kills the infected Cummings. Zeus chases them onto Peters' helicopter, and Ward accidentally shoots Peters, causing the helicopter to fly haphazardly. Zeus overpowers Ward and bites him. As the nuke destroys Las Vegas, Zeus is distracted by the bomb flash, and Ward kills him. The nuke's shockwave causes the helicopter to crash, killing Peters and Geeta. Kate survives and finds Ward, who gives Kate money to start a new life before turning into a zombie. Kate kills him and breaks down in tears as a rescue helicopter arrives.

Having survived the blast, Vanderohe exits the vault with the remaining money and later rents a plane to take him to Mexico City. On the flight, he discovers that he has been bitten.

Army of the Dead Movie Reviews

Box office

Initial estimates said the film made approximately $265,000 on its first day of release, $323,000 on Saturday, and $192,000 on Sunday, grossing $780,000 over its opening weekend at 430–600 theaters. The figure was below industry projections, which had estimated a $1.5–2 million debut based on pre-sales but had a better theatrical opening for a Netflix film compared to the $200,000 earned by Roma in 2018. Over its first 10 days of release, the film grossed over $1 million.

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, which categorizes reviews only as positive or negative, 67% of 280 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "An ambitious, over-the-top zombie heist mashup, Army of the Dead brings Zack Snyder back to his genre roots with a suitably gory splash." According to Metacritic, which assigned a weighted average score of 57 out of 100 based on 43 critics, the film received "mixed or average reviews". PostTrak reported that 83% of audience members gave the film a positive score. Upon its streaming release, some viewers criticized the film after finding several dead pixels on their screens.

Collider reported that critics praised the film for its humor but criticized its runtime, which was 148 minutes, and found that it would appeal to fans of "both Snyder and ensemble action flicks." Brian Tallerico of said the film was better than Dawn of the Dead but worse than any zombie film by George A. Romero, who also created the original Dawn of the Dead in 1978. 

While noting that the film was "pretty deliberate" and "lean" despite its runtime and criticizing its characters, Tallerico said the film was clever and gave positive remarks to its action sequences, writing that they were "the kind of fun, clever beats that keep Army of the Dead alive." Owen Gleiberman, from Variety, had a similar response, lauding it for being able to tackle several genres concurrently while also stating that it lacked substance, like "good diner food served with extra ketchup."

Writing for The New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis praised the film's opening sequence, soundtrack, and Snyder's direction, while also giving negative remarks to its characterization and Bautista's acting. Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson, on the other hand, commended Bautista's performance and the film's characters and cited the film as a return to form for Snyder. 

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four, noting its over usage of "horrific bloodshed," but wrote that it was an "extremely well-executed entry in the [zombie] genre with some wickedly sharp humor and the obligatory heartfelt family reconciliation moments sprinkled among the exploding heads and dripping entrails." For Time, Stephanie Zacharek summarized the feature film by writing that it was "too scattershot, perhaps too derivative and definitely too long. But it's definitely a movie, as well as a perfectly acceptable turn-your-brain-off entertainment."

Cast: Army of the Dead

Dave Bautista as Scott Ward
Ella Purnell as Kate Ward
Omari Hardwick as Vanderohe
Ana de la Reguera as Maria Cruz
Theo Rossi as Burt Cummings
Matthias Schweighöfer as Ludwig Dieter
Nora Arnezeder as Lilly
Hiroyuki Sanada as Bly Tanaka
Tig Notaro as Marianne Peters
Raúl Castillo as Mikey Guzman
Huma Qureshi as Geeta
Garret Dillahunt as Martin
Samantha Win as Chambers
Richard Cetrone as Zeus
Athena Perample as Alpha Queen

Source: Wiki

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