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'Army Of The Dead' Review With Casey

Before the action film Army of the Dead was released on May 21, it already made headlines with casting issues. Oh, dear! After the film finished shooting, one of its actors, comedian Chris D'Elia, had accusations surface in June 2020 of inappropriate sexual behavior with multiple teenage girls. The director then digitally removed Chris D'Elia from the film and reshot his part with replacement comedian Tig Notaro, who was filmed by herself and then digitally inserted into the film. That story is ten times more interesting than the movie itself.

It's almost as if Army of the Dead was doomed with issues from the beginning.The most challenging issue being horrible vapid writing, boring acting, and a sad devotion to violent action scenes. The film is about a ragtag group of hardened mercenaries hired to steal millions of dollars from a casino vault in an abandoned and crumbling Las Vegas overrun by zombies. But these aren't ordinary zombies. They are strong sentient zombies with a pecking order and even zombified animals. (I'm sure Siegfried and Roy fans will feel affronted.) 

The zombie stuff is so desperately insane and over-the-top that all the other elements of the film, like human emotion and character development, get left behind like roadkill. Even the promising glimmer of current social commentary on quarantines and people testing for infection gets about five minutes of measly screen time. 


Director Zack Snyder (Justice League, 2017) is still talented at capturing a visually savage and highly stylized universe, like in 300 (2006) or Sucker Punch (2011), but he still cannot get a good story to come to life with relatable characters and plot developments rooted, at least partly, in a believable reality. Without good writing, thoughtful acting, and balanced pacing, what can a narrative film really offer? With Army of the Dead, it offers gratuitous gore and thousands of gunshots.


Being close to two and a half hours long, the only part of Army of the Dead I liked was the end when I could stop watching. If you want to watch a good zombie/heist film, the sequel Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (2020), from South Korea, will not disappoint.       

Casey T. Allen is a native of Utah who graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 2007. He has worked in many capacities throughout USU campus and enjoys his time at UPR to continually exercise his writing.