Army of the Dead, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonArmy of the Dead, movie (2021)
image © Netflix

Article updated: 2021.06.23

The Army of the Dead (2021) is a contemporary fantasy action film. The movie was reviewed by Kadmon.

Product: Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

Original title: Army of the Dead

Series: -

Setting: alternate Earth

Product type: Film, Genre: contemporary fantasy / action, Style: fantasy, action, zombies, heist, dungeon crawler

Release: 2021.05.14

Reviewer: Kadmon, Type: Male, 40s, Preferences: Immersive, logical story, consistent setting, prefers surprises to spoilers, prefers establishing elements before referencing them

Watched: very recent (2021.05), first time

Rating: Average / Weak (2 / 2- out of 3 points), Enjoyment: Average (2 out of 3 points)

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This is my review of Army of the Dead, a contemporary fantasy action movie from 2021. It's about a team trying to rob a vault in a zombie infested city. The Army of the Dead film is watchable, I recommend it to fans of zombie movies, who don't mind the lack of a logical plot.

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Review (spoiler-free) - Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

I knew that there's this new zombie movie in progress, but I was surprised when reviews started to come up in my news feed. In order to be able to watch those reviews without spoiling the film, I took a look where can I find Army of the Dead. I didn't watch the trailer. I have to admit that I like zombie stories, just like any other fun creatures.

The Army of the Dead film is about a team trying to rob a vault in a zombie infested city.

The film is watchable, if you can stomach the lack of logic, and you don't mind a pointless story. The plot often doesn't make much sense while you watch it, but it retrospect, it will make even less sense, due to the logical problems. The story is consistent otherwise, this can be felt from the beginning to the end. There are no proper character arcs, just quick changes of the characters' minds.

The cinematography is watchable. It shows that they try to lead where should the audience stare, by making everything else out of focus. This is sometimes unfortunate, as you'll watch out of focus images, while you try to find where should you focus your gaze. Sometimes the whole screen is out of focus, just to make things worse. There were plenty of lens flares, probably due to the obsolate cameras the director decided to use. Having dead pixels in some of the scenes is also unfortunate, but I assume those will be corrected in a later release. Othervise, the movie is visually interesting, and still has nice scenes.

The characters are not particularly well developed, with the exception of the main protagonist. The actors were okay, except for the girl (Ella Purnell), who was not convincing at all. Even the zombie showgirl (Athena Perample) was better in her role.

The music score (by Tom Holkenborg) was okay. The chosen songs for the film were also good.

Army of the Dead is a watchable fantasy action film, I think fans of zombie movies might will enjoy it.

My experience

I was not entirely satisfied with Army of the Dead (2021). I happen to prefer stories with well-thought, logical plots, and Army of Dead was nothing like that. Also, it's somehow a weird mix of genres, that doesn't really work for me. As a zombie movie, it's kind of tame. As an action movie, it's pretty long. As a heist movie, it's not very interesting.

Rating: Average (2 out of 3 points), if you watch Army of the Dead as an action movie. Weak (2-) if you also take the plot in consideration.

Enjoyment: Average (2 out of 3 points). Army of the Dead is okay.

Rewatchability: Probably high. If you liked the movie for the first time, you probably liked it for the action scenes.

Chance of watching it again: There's a chance. Although I didn't like the story, the action was not bad. So I might watch it in the right circumstances.

Chance of watching a sequel: Very likely. But I'm not sure I'd run to watch it, unless the story is written by some competent writer.

Army of the Dead, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonArmy of the Dead, movie (2021)
image © Netflix

Will you enjoy this?

If you like dumb action movies, you might like Army of the Dead.

If you prefer straight horror movies, you might not like Army of the Dead, as it's not really frightening or scary.

If you'd like to watch it because you love heist movies, Army of the Dead is somewhat disappointing as a heist movie. After the typical heist build-up, things are just accomplished without any problems.

If you don't mind illogical elements in your movies, you can enjoy Army of the Dead.

If you like twists of expectations, you might enjoy this movie, as there are plenty of unexpected things in it.

Watching for plot points

If you are interested in zombie stories, I think it's worth watching the Army of the Dead movie for the zombie-related plot points.

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Army of the Dead, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonArmy of the Dead, movie (2021)
image © Netflix

Review with spoilers - Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

The movie is probably a bit too long for my tastes. It takes 50 minutes until the team even enters the city, to start their mission. As we didn't get either exposition or character backgrounds in the previous 50 minutes, it would have been easy to cut it to 30 minutes or so.

After watching the movie, I've read that they replaced one of the actors after shooting. The integration of her scenes were done seamlessly, I didn't notice any problems with the replacement.

Cover

The covers and posters make Army of the Dead look like it's a comedy movie with their vivid colours, although it's not.

The trailer

The trailer is okay. It misleads the viewers, so they won't really know what will happen in the movie, so that's good. The only thing I didn't like in it is that it makes the film look like some action packed story, with a lot of zombie fighting, instead of the slow burning heist & family drama we get.

Promise of the first scene

Soldiers carry some secret cargo. This is an interesting start, the story could still get anywhere. I have no clue where will it go.

Execution: The soldier plotline started the whole story, so it's probably a good start.

Plot summary / Synopsis

Soldiers carry a secret cargo from Area 51. We see flying saucers covering them until they leave the base. The convoy gets in an accident. A zombie (Richard Cetrone as "Zeus") gets out of the cargo, kills all of them, and reaches Las Vegas. Zombies take over Las Vegas, but a wall is built around the city, trapping them.

Years after the event, the government decides to nuke Las Vegas to destroy the zombies.

A survivor (Dave Bautista as Scott Ward) gets an offer from a rich guy (Hiroyuki Sanada as Bly Tanaka). If he retrieves 200 million dollars from his casino vault in Las Vegas, he can keep 50 million.

He gathers people for the job - a black guy (Omari Hardwick as Vanderohe) as muscle, a woman (Ana de la Reguera as Maria Cruz) as eye candy, a safecracker (Matthias Schweighöfer as Ludwig Dieter), a pilot (Tig Notaro as Marianne Peters), a latino gangster (Raúl Castillo as Mikey Guzman) and his girlfriend (Samantha Win as Chambers). The employer knows about a helicopter in the city they can use to get out. The employer also sends his chief of security (Garret Dillahunt as Martin) with them. They hire a guide (Nora Arnezeder as Lily, the Coyote), who also recommends that they take a security guard (Theo Rossi as Burt Cummings) with them. Ward's daughter (Ella Purnell as Kate Ward) also goes with them, as she wants to find a missing woman (Huma Qureshi as Geeta).

When they enter the city, the guide shoot the security guard in the leg, and leaves him as sacrifice for the intelligent alpha zombies. She tells them they they take this victims to their lair, in a casino building. When the chief of security gets threatened by the gangster's girlfriend, he leads her into a wrong way, so she gets attacked by zombies, killing her.

They get to the target building, and open the safe. Near the safe, they find decaying bodies of the still alive team members. They think they might have come from an alternate timeline.

Meanwhile the chief of security captures an alpha zombie and cuts her head off. It is revealed that the zombie he killed was pregnant with the kid of the original zombie, so he gets angry. We see that the missing woman was captured by the zombies, but she is still alive.

The girl leaves to find the missing person. Luckily the zombies left the building to attack the team.

When the zombies attack, the chief of security closes the exit and leaves them to their fate. The zombies attack the vault, so the safecracker pushes the black guy in, and closes the safe on him. Two members of the team gets out alive, while the chief of security is killed. During the fight, they kill some cyborg zombies. While they prepare to take flight with the helicopter, the original zombie attacks them. Only Scott Ward and the pilot survives, and they go to the lair of the zombies, to find his daughter. They find her, and also the missing woman she was looking for. The original zombie attacks them, chases to team to their helicopter, and jumps inside. They kill the original zombie, just in time before the nuke hits Las Vegas.

The helicopter crashes due to the shockwave. The pilot dies. Scott Ward was bitten, so his daughter kills him. We see a helicopter landing nearby.

Then we switch to the nuked down ruins, as the black guy crawls out under the radioactive rubble, carrying bags of money. He walks to a city, and hires a private plane. He suddenly feels unwell, and realises that he has been bitten by the original zombie.

The setting

Contemporary alternate Earth. It looks just like our own Earth, but there are zombies, flying saucers, and humanoid robots or cyborgs.

Army of the Dead, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonArmy of the Dead, movie (2021)
image © Netflix

The zombies

These are fast zombies. They possess regular human abilities. Even cyborgs or animals can get zombified.

Killed by brain damage, even a small damage kills them. Their skulls seem to be softer, it's easy to penetrate it with knives. Desiccation disables them, but if they get wet, they are reactivated. Decapitation disables the body, but the head stays active.

If the zombie bite kills them, they turn in a couple of minutes. If they are just bitten, it takes longer.

There's a hierarchy for the zombies, similar to the hierarchy of the vampires in the Vampire: The Masquerade or the Plague in the Warpath series. There's the originial zombie, that is intelligent and super-powered. If he turns a human, it will become an intelligent and fast alpha zombie. If an alpha zombie turns a human, it will become a regular, stupid but fast zombie. I assume that the 3rd generation only create regular zombies.

The original zombie is not dead. We see that his hair grows as time passes. He is probably also able to get women pregnant. His blood contains glowing blue materials. His baby also has glowing blue veins.

There are alpha zombies, that are clever and organised, and also faster and stronger than regular zombies. They have a theory that when the original zombie turns someone, it becomes an alpha. If an alpha turns someone, it becomes a regular mindless zombie. Some of the alpha zombies have glowing blue eyes. Some of them are also robotic, probably those with the blue eyes.

The original zombie used a helmet to protect its brain. It was also able to ride a horse.

They can fall asleep standing in the dark. They are awaken if they get touched, or if someone shines light in their eyes. They start to wheeze, and it takes a couple of seconds for them to become active.

They can communicate with each other through howls.

Some people think that the alpha zombie females can be impregnated by the original zombie.

The message of the story

I'm not sure there's one. "Don't trust casino owners"?

The structure of the story

The scenes of the Army of the Dead film are mostly played in sequence, following the same storyline. There are some flashbacks, referencing events that occured during the movie.

It has the usual arc of the dramatic structure - beginning, action, resolution.

Parallels with other stories

There are many references in the Army of the Dead film to other movies.

Aliens (1986)

  • The company wants to use the creature as a bioweapon: The same here.
  • Burke's betrayal: The chief of security betrays and closes them with the zombies.
  • Burke's demise: The chief of security gets killed after he betrayed the others.
  • Death of Vasquez: The latino woman gets blown up with the zombies.
  • Ripley saving Newt: The daughter goes into the lair of the zombies alone, to save the missing woman from the leader of the zombies. This was not a shot-for-shot reference like the others, but a thematic one.
  • Bishop coming back with the dropship: When they reach the top of the building, the helicopter is not there. But it appears after a short while.
  • The Alien Queen gets on the dropship for a final fight: The original zombie jumps on the helicopter for a final fight.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

  • "You really scared me": A soldier falls to the ground, and another soldier says "You really scared me". Then he is about to lend help for him, when he is dragged down by a zombie. (This was noticed by an IMDB user.)

I am Legend (2007)

  • The leading creature and his girlfriend: We see very similar scenes with the original zombie and the showgirl zombie.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

  • Caesar rides a horse, and rises his spear before the attack: The original zombie does the same, before attacking the intruders of his lair.

Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

  • What a piece of junk: The pilot says something like this when she first sees the helicopter.
  • Falcon's hyperdrive failing: When the helicopter breaks down, the Falcon's failing hyperdrive sound is played. (This was noticed by an IMDB user.)

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Things I liked

  • I liked the zombie animals.
  • I liked the intro scene about the fall of Las Vegas.
  • The planning montage of the heist was fun.
  • I like Athena Perample's portrayal of the zombie showgirl.
  • I liked the concept of the time loop, but they didn't do anything with it in this movie.

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How does it compare to the other works of the creators?

I haven't seen any other movies of the screenplay writers (Joby Harold, Shay Hatten), so I can't tell whether the illogical movie is their fault. I have seen a couple of movies from the story writer (Zack Snyder), and most of them were also a mess. I enjoyed the action scenes in 300, Sucker Punch, Wonder Woman, even the Justice League, but the stories are weak.

I've seen a couple of movies from the director (Zack Snyder), and I consider him a good director.

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Army of the Dead, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonArmy of the Dead, movie (2021)
image © Netflix

Analysis of the story - Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

While I liked the action scenes, I didn't like the story. There were many problems that prevented me from enjoying Army of the Dead.

Problematic elements

The convoy: In the beginning, the military convoy goes too tight together for my tastes. The US doctrine I've found recommends 100 meters between the vehicles. And we even see the weakness of this in the film. The head vehicle, that's supposed to cover the front, steers away, letting the civilian car to collide frontally with the cargo carrier. They just didn't leave any space to handle the problem.

Also, it seems a little early for me that the drivers get distracted. It might be believable if they have spent 2 days of constant driving in an uneventful trip, but the movie makes it look like it happened a couple of minutes after they've left the base.

The explosion of the truck: Let's assume this is artistic licence. The container could have fallen off due to the collision even if the truck didn't explode, so the story would be basically the same. And people like to watch explosions.

The container: Why didn't they seal the container properly? For example, welding it shut, if they leave the original zombie inside without any restraints. Some regular prisoners get more attention than this.

The plan of the military: If they wouldn't mind the zombie getting killed, it would have been easily killed by the soldiers, if they were told to aim for the head. If they wanted to recapture it without harm, it would make more sense to command the soldiers to leave the area. But then, why do the soldiers try to leave on foot, while there are still multiple cars to take?

If they put a tracker into the zombie, they will be able to find it later. The best way to handle the situation would be probably if the soldiers would close themselves into the cars, so the zombie would waste time trying to get inside, thus allowing reinforcements to arrive, who could capture the zombie.

Parachutes: During the fall of Vegas, we see parachute soldiers jumping into uncleared spaces. The zombies don't have any ranged weapons, so they could just fly around in a helicopter, killing all of them, and only send in the infantry when there's nothing moving in the vicinity.

The wall: A wall like that might work against regular zombies, but there are intelligent zombies here, who can use tools. They could find ways to climb over the wall, or break through it.

Scott Ward: It seems to me that he spent the past couple of years by working at a fast food restaurant. How does he keep his physique? It takes an awful lot of protein to keep his muscle mass, and that cost a lot.

Airspace: Why is it that they can't fly in, but they can fly out? Do they think that the soldiers outside won't notice an unmarked helicopter flying out?

The safecracker: Why would they need a safecracker to crack the safe, if it's the owner of the safe who sends them there? He would know every access code. Also, he would know what kind of booby traps are there, and how to disable those.

The required space: When they go through the plan, they seem to take it seriously. How come none of them start to think about how will the carry all that money out of the vault and out of the city with the helicopter? 1 cubic meter (ca. 35 cubic foot) of money is 4 millions of USDs in 100 dollar bills, and that weights 40 kg (88 pounds). Given that the helicopter has circa 15 cubic meters of space, they could put about 60 millions of dollars inside, so it would take 3 turns, even if they really push it. And most likely they would be caught after the first flyover.

It would be a lot more efficient, if they would just grab the bags, and walk to the gate with the money, until they haul everything out.

On the other hand, the helicopter wouldn't have been able to take the whole team, so it was fortunate that most of them just died.

The camp: They built the refugee camp right at the wall. That means, that in case of a zombie breakthrough, the camp would be their first target.

The daughter: Why is the daughter so stupid that she wants to go, just because she used to babysit the kids of a missing person? Coyote would know who are they looking for, the girl is unnecessary.

Also, the fact that she joins the team shows how unreliable she is. The daughter promised to the missing woman that if the woman goes missing, she'll take care of the kids of the woman. Yet, at the first opportunity, she leaves the kids alone for days - or probably, forever, as they are taken to another location, and she'll be in jail. Perhaps she thought that fighting zombies is less scary than taking care of kids.

The online zombie killers: The zombie-infested area is closed, and you are not allowed to enter. Yet, there's a team who frequently go inside to kill zombies while broadcasting it online. They don't even hide their identitiy. I'd assume they would be quickly arrested by the authorities.

The guy who leaves: When they meet with the employer, one of the guys just leaves the team. I feel that this scene is totally unnecessary. It's not interesting, it's not funny.

The open door: As noticed by an IMDB user, they left the door leading to the city wide open.

Ill-prepared team: When they go into the zombie infested city, why don't they dress for the occassion? Everyone wears casual clothing, instead of something protective. Even biker clothing would be enough. The employer tells them they can get any kind of hardware they require. Yet, they look like some kind of post-apocalyptic band of survivors.

Sharpshooters: It was interesting to see that basically every single shot they take, hits a zombie in the head, killing it. They don't miss, they don't shoot at other body parts. They are extremely efficient, especially for people, who didn't practice combat, at least not for the past couple of years. There efficiency is even more surprising, as some of them never even met zombies, or never even handled firearms.

Against the original zombie, who wears a helmet, this becomes a disadvantage, as they only shoot at his helmet all the time. If they would just destroy the muscles on his body, or shoot his legs, they wouldn't have any problems with him.

The fuel can: When the latino woman gets attacked by the awakening zombies, why doesn't she just ditch the helicopter fuel can? She still carries it when she dies. She could have even poured it out and light in on fire to keep the zombies at a distance. (Edit: Yes, I know, she carries it so there could be a spectacular explosion.)

Getting herself killed: Why does the latino woman tell the chief of security she knows he is up to something, especially in a middle of a dangerous situation, when there are no witnesses? Is she really this dumb? And if she actually is, her mental capabilities should have been established earlier.

Betrayal: When the latino woman gets back to the team, why doesn't she warn them about the misgivings of the chief of security? She had plenty of time to do so.

Too lazy to help: When the latino woman gets attacked by the zombies, why don't the rest of the team do something, besides blowing her up? They have plenty of weapons and plenty of time to kill the handful of zombies that try to swarm her. Yet, they decide to leave her to her fate.

Being noisy: We see that the team is able to kill zombies with silent melee weapons. Why do they use firearms, when those lure more zombies to attack them?

Lack of urgency: The characters often spend time on unnecessary things like chatting, instead of hurrying to complete their plan. Even after they get notified that the nuke will be dropped in 90 minutes, why do they spend their time celebrating, or even idle talking? Are they this suicidal?

The repair of the helicopter: The helicopter that was deserted for years, and it caught fire when it was started. It seems to me unlikely that the pilot was able to repair it in an hour, alone, without any replacement parts.

The booby traps: The employer tells them that the traps are going to be a minor inconvenience. Even though we clearly see that the second is likely to kill anybody, while the third is certainly going to kill whoever steps on it. If he had any intention of getting the money, he should have told the team a bit more about the traps.

The booby trap activation: The whole thing doesn't really make sense. If the traps are activated by pressure, anything pushed onto them would work. If they are both pressure and heat sensitive, then a walking cold body is not the best idea to simulate a human. They should have at least heated up the zombies, probably by setting them on fire, or pouring hot water on them.

The decapitated zombie: When the guide says they'll be in trouble if the zombies find the body, why didn't they hide it? Or burn it, so it won't be found?

Betrayal again: When the chief of security closes the door on the guide, why does he stop to taunt her? He is standing on a gridwalk, and the guide has firearms. Sure, it's not easy to hit him through the mesh, but it's not impossible.

Zombies in uniform: It looks like some of the zombies wear the same clothes. It's either they were in uniform (that's a possibility, as they could have been casino employees), or they just used different shots of the same zombie actors, without changing their clothes.

Fast zombies: I get it that they are fast zombies in this movie, but they are so fast, that they can follow the helicopter on foot, and reach the building at the same time the helicopter does. Even the leader on horse would have a very hard time to keep up with the helicopter.

The missile: As noted by an IMDB user, the missile wouldn't accelerate and burn when it approaches the target. By that time it would be just free falling.

The missing woman: What happened to the missing woman in the end? We see her reach the helicopter, but then she disappears. The daughter doesn't even look for her after the helicopter crashes.

The timeline: The fact that the story happened several years after the fall of Vegas, was told very late in the movie. It caught me by surprise because it goes against the logic of the things we have seen. If it had happened years ago, the employer had plenty of time to get a sample from the alpha zombies. They could have even captured the original zombie, because there's a finite number of zombies in the city, and they could just snipe them from the top of the wall, until they are able to storm their hideouts.

The nuking of Las Vegas: It might make sense to nuke the city if it happened just a few days after the fall of Vegas, as they couldn't know the capabilities of the trapped zombies. However, as it happened after several years, it doesn't really make sense how were they unable to clear the city by conventional means. The zombies are stupid brutes, even the smart ones. It's hard to imagine they could slow down a well trained and properly protected commando. If they were afraid that the zombie strain would somehow remain alive, it might make more sense, but there's no mention of that. Also, as we know there are plenty of underground places the zombies can hide in, there's still a chance that they will survive the blast. So, after nuking the city, the first thing to do would be to send those commandos to get rid of the rest.

The ending: I feel that it was ridiculously bad. We watch a whole movie, getting attached to some of the main characters, just to see that none of them survives in the end, and their whole mission was pointless anyway. The only character that survived the event is the daughter, who is a really unsympathetic one, and even if she survives radiation sickness, she'll be imprisoned for a couple of years. So it's not a very happy ending for her either. For many viewers, investing emotions into characters that will utterly fall, is a waste of time.

The last couple of scenes with the black guy are unnecessary. The story already got its end, I feel that this just got into the movie to bait a sequel. And due to the radiation sickness, it's highly unlikely that he'd be able to reach another city by foot, while carrying the bags of money, as paper is heavy, and he is weak. He might be more resistant due to the zombie infection, but that means that the rest of the zombies might also be protected.

The daughter: I feel that the inclusion of the daughter is unnecessary. Her reason to join the team (to rescue a woman she barely knows) is laughable, or at least not very well established. If she was her partner, that would have been enough of a reason. Then she just leaves the rest of the team, to go alone to find the woman in the lair of the zombies. I just couldn't fathom her reasoning behind this. Then, when she manages to rescue her, she doesn't care about the woman any more. Her "emotional" scenes are mostly just padding.

The grand plan

Let's see what the real plan of the employer could have been, but neither makes much sense.

Plan A: Get into the city to get a sample of an alpha zombie: Let's just forget for a second that in all those years after the fall of Vegas, there would have been plenty of opportunities to do it. Why would they hire a bunch of bank robbers to complete the mission? Why don't they just hire guides like Lily the Coyote, who have actual experience in the city? We also see that the employer has military connections, they could just send in a bunch of commandos.

The chief of security says that an alpha zombie is worth 2 billion dollars, and that's plenty of money. For that amount, they could have organised a team of professionals.

Also, if this is the real plan, then why does the chief of security goes back to the casino after he completed the job? He was right at the gates leading into the city at the time, so there must have been something else. (Or it was bad writing.) There was also no need for any helicopters, so why bother with it?

Plan B: Get into the city to get a sample of an alpha zombie, while trying to get money from the casino: This also makes sense, as even a millionaire could do with additional money. However, we see that the employer didn't really put effort into getting the money, he neglected to mention the deadly booby traps, and he didn't even tell them the combination to the safe. Also, even after they really got the money, the chief of security locked them in, preventing them to complete the mission and getting the money out.

If he didn't lock them in, and just let them get away, they could have hauled the money out for the employer. If he had to get rid of those who knew he got the alpha zombie sample, it would have been enough if he killed the guide girl.

In this scenario, there might be a need for a vehicle to carry the money out, but a helicopter is still not a great choice, as it's very hard to go undetected by the soldiers outside.

Plan C: Get into the city to get a sample of an alpha zombie, while trying to get money the casino, then get the hired guns be killed: This seems to be plausible, not leaving any witness behind, but then, why bother with completing the whole casino job? The whole thing with the casino was the cause why the chief of security failed his mission. Also, instead of the chief of security, who seems to avoid killing people directly, send in some hardened veteran, who wouldn't mind blowing the brains of the living.

The heist

Heist movies are interesting, because the criminals planning the heist have to gather the right people, have to prepare a clever plan, then they have to execute the plan, overcoming the security people who try to stop them. In Army of the Dead, there's practically none of those.

When the protagonist gathers the team, everything runs as expected, everyone automatically joins the party without any questions. There's one guy who refuses to join, but we don't even know who he is, or why would he be important, so it doesn't really matter.

The plan is just given to the team by the employer. Although there are a couple of holes in that plan, the team won't even think that through, they just accept the plan as is. I'm glad though, that we are shown the plan, so at least we can compare that to the progress of the heroes. There are some movies, where they keep the plan a secret, so the audience doesn't even know what to think about the unfolding events.

When they get into the building, there's no security or intelligent opposition anywhere. This takes the edge out of the heist, as they can just walk inside the buildings and do whatever they want.

The "heist" in this movie is closer to dungeon crawlers, where a team goes inside uninhabited buildings to take anything left there, while fighting monsters who happen to infest the area.

Movie posters

Most of the posters are misleading. It's probably useful for this movie, as more people will watch it, but I still consider it a problem.

Subversions of expectation

While this could be done in a funny way, or have it work like a twist in the plot, I've felt that these elements were just taking extra time in the movie, without any purpose.

  • Showing us flying saucers in the beginning, that won't be referenced any more in the movie.
  • Introducing the circular saw of the black guy, that won't be used by him in the mission.
  • Telling us about how dehydrated zombies are reactivated by rain, but no rain happens.
  • Showing us dead versions of the main characters, without any explanation given.
  • Showing us robotic zombies, without any explanation given.
  • Spending time with the rescue of the missing woman, than totally forget about her.

Unanswered questions

What's up with the flying saucers in the beginning?

What's up with the decaying bodies of the team members? Did they really come from an alternate dimension?

What's up with the robotic zombies?

What was the plan of the daughter? Why did she join the team? What did she want to do when they got inside? What was her plan after she left the rest of the team to go after the missing woman? How did she plan to get out of the city?

Why do the zombies kill the captured males, but keep the females imprisoned? (Edit: The original script explained this, as the females were to be used to carry the children of the original zombie.)

What happened to the woman they've rescued from the zombie lair?

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Possibilities of improvement

  • Edit the story in a way that it looks like the whole heist is organised by Scott Ward. Then, it's not unbelievable that they don't have the right equipment, they don't have professional people, or have to break into the vault.
  • Cut the parts where they state it's been years since the fall of Vegas. It would be more believable if it happened recently.
  • Cut some scenes from the preparation phase. Let them enter the city at about 30 minutes.
    • Cut most of the recruiting scenes, because they are just padding.
    • Cut the scene when the guy leaves the first meeting.
  • Cut the scenes with the daughter. Let the movie end with the helicopter crashing, and fade to black.
  • Cut the scene about the explanations about the desiccated zombies and rain, as it won't be used.
  • Cut the scene when the latino girl comes back.
  • Cut the alternate timeline scene, as it doesn't get anywhere.
  • Cut the ending scenes with the black guy.

How it could have been better?

If the casino was not the property of the employer, it would make more sense why they need to break in.

If the alpha zombie collecting would have been a private endeavour on the chief of security's part, and the employer didn't know about that, it would also make more sense.

For dramatic purposes, meeting with the regular zombies first, and then introducing the alpha zombies later, would have been probably better. Although seeing the alpha zombies first creates a suspense, so it could go either way.

If the creators want to include the missing woman, so we'd like to see her escape - make the audience like her, to be emotionally involved. Show us something that introduces her to us.

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Army of the Dead, movie (2021) - Film review by KadmonArmy of the Dead, movie (2021)
image © Netflix

Uses for the film - Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

Plot

  • A zombie gets loose in a city.
  • The government decides to destroy an infected city.
  • If you give a live sacrifice for the alpha zombies, they let you through their territory. This is an interesting element, especially for gaming perspective.

Scenes

  • The beginning scenes about the fall of Las Vegas look good.
  • The scene about nuking the city in the end could be used to depict a similar situation.

Scenarios - Role-playing game

  • The employer knows there's a huge amount of treasure in a vault in a city that is going to be destroyed (attacked, bombed, nuked, sucked into a black hole). The team has a limited time to retrieve the treasure.
  • The team has to retrieve a live sample of a dangerous creature.
  • A scavanger team got into a dangerous place. One of them didn't come back. Another team goes in to find the missing person, who is trapped / captured by locals / doesn't want to be found.

Scenarios - Wargame

  • The attacking team has to break into a vault, and get the treasure out. The defenders want to wipe the attackers out. The attackers have stronger, or better equipped units. Among the attackers there's a specialist that has to spend a number of turns with disabling the defenses so they can get into the vault. If the specialist becomes casualty, they have equipment to break into the vault, but it takes a lot longer to do that. The attackers win if they get at least half of the treasure out of the playing area, with at least half of their units surviving. The defender wins if they kill more than half of the attackers.
    • The defenders can be mindless mobs, if you want to play solo.
  • There are hostages in the lair of the defenders. An attacking team gets in to locate the hostages and get them out of the playing area. The attackers got into the lair while the defenders were distracted, but now they are alerted. The defender chooses the zone where the hostages are kept, or decide randomly (especially if you want to play solo). Deploy the attackers on the edge of the playing area. They have the first turn free. Roll a d6 dice at the end of every turn, and if you roll less than, or equal to the number of turns passed, deploy the defenders at the edge of the playing area. If the attackers reach the zone where the hostages are kept, reveal them. They are non-combatant civilians. The attacker wins if they are able to leave the playing area with at least half of the hostages, and half of the attacker units are still alive. The defender wins if they kill more than half of the attackers.
    • The defenders can be mindless mobs if you want to play solo.
    • If you have plenty of space, the game can be played on multiple levels of a building. The defenders enter the play on the first floor. The attackers can leave the building via the flyer that waits them on the top of the building.

Miniatures - 1/50-1/60 (28-32mm scale)

In 2021.05, CMON announced that they will make an Army of the Dead board game with miniatures. So you'll have readily made models for your games if you wish to include these characters.

The zombies: Human-sized human zombie. The original zombie, the alpha zombies and the shambler zombies all look the same. However, for game purposes it would be useful to make them distinct. For the shamblers, you can use regular zombies. For the alphas, you might use Runners from Zombicide, or even Gen2 Plague mutants from Warpath.

The original zombie: Human-sized human zombie, in a helmet, with a rod (spear). It's probably better to convert the model than looking for one like that. Make sure that he looks distinct from both the shambler and the alpha models you use.

The zombie tiger: Large feline zombie. I couldn't find a good model, but I think you can either convert a normal tiger model to an undead state, or you could paint a Dire Wolf for Warhammer as a tiger.

The zombie horse: Very large horse zombie. There are some zombie horse models out there.

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Similar stories - Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

Movies

Aliens (1986): Tough guys fight against semi-intelligent savage creatures. Aliens is a better movie than Army of the Dead.

Ghosts of Mars (2001): Aliens possess dead bodies, using them as puppets. Tough guys fight against these semi-intelligent savage creatures. The zombies in Army of the Dead are closest to these creatures. Ghosts of Mars is probably a better movie than Army of the Dead.

Invisible Invaders (1959): Aliens reanimate dead bodies, using them as puppets.

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959): Aliens are responsible of zombies waking from their graves. That is probably a less satisfying movie than Army of the Dead.

Movies with fast zombies

28 Days Later (2002)

28 Weeks Later (2007)

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Train to Busan (2016)

Train to Busan 2: Peninsula (2020)

Movies with intelligent zombies

I am Legend (2007)

Land of the Dead (2005)

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

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Frequently asked questions - Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

Is Army of the Dead film based on a book or comics?

No, Army of the Dead is not based on either books or comics.

Is there a post credit scene in Army of the Dead?

No, there's no post credit scene in Army of the Dead.

Is Army of the Dead a sequel to Dawn of the Dead?

No. Army of the Dead was originally intended to be a sequel, but the writer changed his mind during the production. Army of the Dead is set in its own cinematic universe.

Is there a prequel to Army of the Dead?

A prequel feature movie of Army of the Dead is in the works, titled Army of Thieves. A prequel TV series is also in production, called Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas.

Where can I watch Army of the Dead online? Is Army of the Dead available on Netflix? Is Army of the Dead on Amazon?

As of 2021.05.26, Army of the Dead is on Netflix.

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Resources - Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

Official

Army of the Dead: Official article.

Information

IMDB: Army of the Dead (2021): Database article.

WikiPedia: Army of the Dead: Database article.

Letterboxd: Army of the Dead 2021: Database article.

Rotten Tomatoes: Army of the Dead: Database article.

Reviews with no spoilers - Army of the Dead film (2021)

Doug (for Channel Awesome): Army of the Dead - Doug Reviews: Compensated review video about the Army of the Dead film with no spoilers. He liked the movie.Ł

Nate Zoebl: Army of the Dead (2021): Review article about the Army of the Dead film with no spoilers.

republished on Psycho Drive-In

Obsessive Cinema Disorder 電影強迫症: Army of the Dead Review: Review article about the Army of the Dead film with no spoilers.

WardWorks (for Cross the Netflix Stream): Army of the Dead Movie Review: Review article with spoilers. It also has a non-spoiler section in the beginning.

Reviews with no spoilers - Army of the Dead film (2021) - Italian

Marco Minniti (for Asbury Movies): Army of the Dead (in Italian): Review article with no spoilers, in Italian.

English version by Google Translate

Reviews with no spoilers - Army of the Dead film (2021) - Polish

Tomasz Miecznikowski (for Badloopus): Army of the Dead - zombies for the bold [review] (in Polish): Review article with no spoilers, in Polish.

English version by Google Translate

Reviews with spoilers - Army of the Dead film (2021)

Dan Lee (for Psycho Drive-In): Zombie Casino Heist Confusion in Army of the Dead: Review article of the Army of the Dead movie, with spoilers.

greigzilla (for We've Got (Back) Issues): Army of the Dead: Review article of the Army of the Dead movie, with spoilers.

Jay & Mike (for RedLetterMedia): Half in the Bag: Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead: Review video of the Army of the Dead film, with spoilers.Ł

Ryan George (for Screen Rant): Army Of The Dead Pitch Meeting: Video of the Army of Dead film, with spoilers. Includes a plot summary.¤

Think Story: ARMY OF THE DEAD Ending Explained & Details You Missed!: Video of the Army of Dead film, with spoilers. Includes a plot summary.¤

Vito: ARMY OF THE DEAD: How to Ruin a Zombie Movie (Review): Video of the Army of Dead movie, with spoilers.Ł

WardWorks (for Cross the Netflix Stream): Army of the Dead Movie Review: Review article with spoilers. It also has a non-spoiler section in the beginning.

Reviews with spoilers - Army of the Dead film (2021) - Turkish

Gökhan Cılam (for Science Fiction Club): A Modern Zombie Story: Army of the Dead (in Turkish): Review article with spoilers, in Turkish.Ł?

English version by Google Translate

Analysis - Army of the Dead movie (2021)

Don Kaye (for Den of Geek): Army of the Dead Ending Explained: Article explaining the end of the Army of the Dead movie.Ł

Eric Voss (for New Rockstars): ARMY OF THE DEAD BREAKDOWN! Easter Eggs & Details You Missed!: Video about the details of Army of the Dead.¤

Filmento: Army of the Dead — When a Filmmaker Grows too Powerful | Anatomy Of A Failure: Analysis video about the problems of Army of the Dead.Ł

John Saavedra (for Den of Geek): Army of the Dead: Robot Zombie Mystery Explained: Article explaining the robot zombies in the Army of the Dead film.Ł

Paul (for Heavy Spoilers): ARMY OF THE DEAD Explained: The Biggest WTF Questions Answered | Timeloop, Robot Zombies, UFO & More: Video about the listed topics.¤

Screen Junkies: Honest Trailers | Army of the Dead: Humorous analysis video of the Army of the Dead movie.Ł

same video on Facebook

Supercuts Delight: Army of the Dead Being Devoid of Logic: Analysis video about the problems of Army of the Dead.

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Buying the product - Army of the Dead, movie (2021)

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Have you seen the Army of the Dead film? How do you like the movie? Would you recommend it to others? Do you know reviews or resources you'd like to add? What further thoughts do you have about it? Tell your opinion in the comments!

 

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