How could a zombie heist film possibly be boring? Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” somehow manages to answer that question, with an awesome concept bogged down by a torturous two-and-a-half-hour runtime, dull characters, and surprisingly banal action.
The film follows a former mercenary who assembles a team to rob a casino in zombie-infested Las Vegas just days before the U.S. government drops a nuclear bomb to destroy the city and its undead inhabitants. Alongside this horror heist is a subplot about an oppressive refugee camp filled with the potentially contaminated and an attempted link with the mercenary’s estranged daughter.
With the right material, Snyder is a brilliant director, capable of crafting tense, exciting, immersive action movies. “Watchmen” is a superb film, blending richly drawn characters, exciting fight sequences, and bold philosophical questions in an exceptional adaptation of Alan Moore’s iconic graphic novel. “300” is wildly fun, with phenomenal action set pieces, endlessly quotable dialogue, and perfect use of the slo-mo with which Snyder has become so closely associated.
The film’s opening and title sequence demonstrate the excellence Snyder can achieve. It is pretty close to perfect, teasing the threat with a tense and hilarious first scene before launching into a high-energy montage establishing the undead threat’s Las Vegas containment in a lively, exciting sequence. It’s a shame that the rest of the movie fails to live up to its promising beginning.
Instead, the subsequent two hours drag with protagonists as lifeless as the zombies they face. Between the clichéd writing and dull performance, Dave Bautista’s turn as the protagonist lacks both the emotionality and entertainment needed to craft a compelling central character. As an actor, he fails to deliver the required charm or emotional depth to carry a film.
The weak character writing is not a sin that can be attributed to the entire film, as the background members of the crew are lively and fun, with specific personalities that both stand out and gel as a cohesive ensemble. As with many heist movies, the team-building scene was another comedic gem, and one of the only moments
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