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  Army of the Dead What Happens In Vegas Slays In Vegas
Year: 2021
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighofer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Garret Dillahunt, Tig Notaro, Raul Castillo, Huma Qureshi, Samantha Win, Richard Cetrone, Michael Cassidy
Genre: Horror, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Recently, there was a convoy of US military trucks travelling across the Nevada desert from their base in Area-51, transporting a top secret and highly dangerous cargo. The driver at the head of the convoy was not to know there was a man being pleasured by his girlfriend in the car up ahead, travelling towards them and straying across the middle of the highway, which has the unfortunate effect of crashing straight into him, breaking open the cargo in an explosion. The surviving soldiers radio for help, but are told not to approach the site, and they find out why pretty quickly - there are zombies emerging from it.

And this happens to be situated next to Las Vegas, so after the undead have made quick work of the soldiers, they toddle along to the gambling heart of the world and proceed to wreak havoc, et voila, you have a movie. Well, sort of, as while you would think Las Vegas has sufficient landmarks and identifying features to make for a visually intriguing and even spectacular horror/action hybrid, for some reason director Zack Snyder chose to shoot most of this in dingy corridors, presumably thanks to not having the rights to use those parts of the city that might have created a bright, kitschy set of visuals that could lift it.

Snyder had made a zombie movie before, of course, his first, a remake of Dawn of the Dead that was considered sacrilege by the George A. Romero fans, but actually was a very decent little shocker that did well by its James Gunn screenplay. This was a lot less lean and mean, more flabby and out of shape, so when you were faced with a film that was upstaged by its own title sequence you knew you were in for a stupidly overlong rerun of zombie cliches that substituted cramped scuffles and snarling extras for tense, well-orchestrated mayhem, not really what you wanted from this kind of material when the other possibilities were better.

Snyder and his team had transformed promising premise and potential for what Netflix apparently thought an action movie should look like, on the evidence of their past results: a bunch of busy yet deadening (no pun intended) scenes that did little but prolong the running time and justify the large budget. Here the story was supposedly a heist flick, where emotionally bruised soldier Dave Bautista took a team of mercenaries into the centre of Vegas, which has now been blocked off to contain the ravening hordes within, all to liberate two hundred million dollars' worth of cash from a vault in a hotel before the place is nuked. They did, at least, have a semblance of personality each to give the cast something to work with, though some did better at that than others.

So there was plenty happening as the action crawled towards its conclusion, but not much of it made an impact, aside from the cool image of a zombie tiger presumably escaped from one of the shows. There were signs that Snyder was not that interested in doing more zombies, as this resembled Escape from New York from some angles, and from others, Mad Max 2 as the leader of the infected is closely modelled after Humungous from that cult classic, and though he never drove any vehicles, he did have his own zombie horse to charge around on. It was a bit off when the villain was more charismatic than the leads, especially when he did not have any lines other than "AARGH!", but that was what you were stuck with, and that's without factoring in the far too lengthy introductory scenes that did not focus on the big plan, as a heist movie should, just so we know what's going wrong. There was a try at a tearstained finale, and a hard to believe coda (mind you, if you've got that far...), but a Vegas horror movie should be a lot more fun than this. Maybe the place brings out the worst in people. Music by Junkie XL.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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