After HBO Max released Zack Snyder’s director’s cut of Justice League, which received so much positive feedback from both critics and the nerds, it proved that he has an outstanding vision for comics cinema. Snyder came out with Netflix’s newest hit “Army of the Dead,” which ranks 1st in Netflix’s top 10 list in the Middle East at the moment.
Army of the Dead: a homage to all zombie comic plots, and so much more
The movie opens with a clever scene involving a military transport colliding with a pair of newlyweds “celebrating” their marriage while driving down a Nevada highway. A bit of dialogue reveals that the convoy has recently come from Area 51, and that their undefined payload is so dangerous, that their military-grade weapons won’t make much of an impact. This dialogue is quite smart, as the two soldiers give guesses as to what they’re moving. Is it a piece of Raa’s mace? Emilia Heart, but ALIVE? Are they moving the holy grail? What, should they not be moving “an alien?” Here, the other soldier starts to express his admiration for his friend’s guess involving an extraterrestrial theme. This short dialogue is a whisper to the nerds out there, because this movie is definitely for you.
When the large container holding the deadly passenger is damaged, it opens, and the soldiers who survived the accident quickly turn into the undead, before climbing a hill to set their sights on the city of sin, Las Vegas.
Survival stories and PTSD in Army of the Dead
Over a cover version (of course) of “Viva Las Vegas,” the movie quickly sums up the story of the zombie infestation in a shimmering extravaganza. The topless zombie showgirls attacking a middle-aged man on the floor of a casino represents “the sin of lust,” and the officer represents “the sin of pride,” while the seven deadly sins continue on in sin city.
The city is infested, and the government fights to get out as many survivors as it can before the entire city is walled off. The tragedies of loss and trauma fly one by one in a very clever montage, focusing on the heroic survival of our main players, and delivering a whole genre of zombie comics.
Then comes a heist in the middle of zombie-infested Las Vegas
Under the instructions of Mr. Tanaka (a wealthy man with very questionable activities), a team of badass men and women gather up to go into the zombie-infested city, to try and loot 200 million dollars from a casino.
The team consists of a helicopter guy (butch sassy woman), a lock opener (basic nerd), two badass strong men, and one woman (they are literally just badass zombie killers).
The characters aren’t shallow, but aren’t really strong either. Scott Ward, for example, is nothing more than a father, a soldier, and a really big man. You can see that Snyder didn’t put much effort in building up the characters because to him, they serve a specific purpose only, which is to create a continuous homage to zombie comics. As a result, the characters came off as very comical, and somehow unrealistic.
The politics were flavors and not a real factor in Army of the Dead
You can see how the whole zombie disaster was blamed on the military’s mistake. The survivors from Vegas who couldn’t leave after the infestation, were locked in humanitarian camps that don’t follow the American authorities, and are now under the barbaric control and abuse by the peacekeeping forces that have taken over the camps. The movie refers lightly to the inhumane violations, but does not take it further than a mere flavor. And of course, one of the abusive soldiers was willingly sacrificed to the zombie king, in order to grant our main players access to Las Vegas.
The fast, intelligent, and tactic zombie genre
The movie portrays the modern concept of fast zombies, which Snyder previously used in his zombie master Dawn of the Dead. But, in this movie, he gave zombies a form of tactic intelligence, as well as a king, queen, and alphas (strong and fast zombies which descend from a direct bite of the king).
The coyote (because any heist needs a coyote), says that the city is your prison, but it’s their kingdom. From there, you can understand how Snyder made the zombie community as savage and barbaric monsters, but still have basic social attachment that forms a community.
They obey their king and sympathize with each other, whilst sharing a mutual goal to act upon. I’m not sure if this is an old comical product or it’s Snyder’s brand new idea, but it was amazing.
We don’t know where the zombie king came from, but wherever the military brought him from, he didn’t ask for it. And, when he infested Las Vegas with his plague, he was only following his animalistic instinct. Once the players gave the zombie queen her sacrifice (the abusive officer), they were granted safety, which was taken away from them once Tanaka’s security man cut the queen’s head off. He declared that Mrs. Tanaka doesn’t care about the money, and that he was sent to cut off this head, take it back to the black market, and learn how to potentially make an army of the dead.
This betrayal is what lead to the final rage of zombies that killed all the characters (it’s not really a spoiler, all the characters die at the end of zombie movies).
This plot came out as a reflection of the not-so-far crimes of the white man against the less “civilized” nations, be it in Africa or the Americas.