Army of the Dead: Viva Dead Vegas – Netflix Review

Zak Snyder goes back to the undead for a casino heist movie.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Well, the US Military caused a zombie outbreak, like in most of these movies. This time, it lead to the original zombie, codenamed Zeus (Richard Cetrone), making his way to Las Vegas. The city is quickly overrun by zombies and the government walls the city off from the rest of the US. Later, they decide to just nuke the city. Shortly before this is set to happen, former mercenary Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) is approached by millionaire casino owner Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), who hires Ward to break into his former casino vault in downtown Vegas and collect $200 million. Ward, who was present in Vegas when the outbreak occurred and was forced to kill his wife in front of his daughter, Kate (Ella Purnell), agrees. He recruits a team including mechanic Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera), soldier Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), safecracker Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), and pilot Peters (Tig Notaro). They, along with Kate, are led into Vegas by a “coyote” named Lily (Nora Arnezeder), who informs them that this is no normal zombie outbreak. There’s something different about some of the zombies in Vegas, and it’s not just the zombie tigers.

The team is prepared to kick some undead backside.

END SUMMARY

I should probably start off by saying that I am not, in general, a fan of Zak Snyder’s movies. Of the films he has directed, the only one I genuinely enjoy rewatching is Dawn of the Dead. Most of his other films have parts that I really like, but are, on the whole, too long and too self-aggrandizing for my tastes. Yes, they’re better in their “full form” like the full cut of BvS, Watchmen, and Justice League, but if you can’t tell a story in less than 2 hours, just make a TV show. However, I do think that, for the most part, he got it right with his remake of Dawn of the Dead, because it’s funny, has great action, has solid commentary, and just looked cool as hell. This movie at least had much of that, but still had a little too much self-indulgence to keep it as tight as his other zombie film. It’s got too many moving parts and doesn’t focus well enough on any of them. It also literally has an hour without zombies in it and wastes a lot of that on doing character reintroductions even after we got the “gist” of each character in the opening sequence. That said, on the whole, I thought it was worth watching.

Zak Snyder’s corpse mountain.

To the film’s credit, it does one very solid thing in reshaping the zombie genre: Adding hierarchy. In the movie, there isn’t just one kind of zombie, because the effects of the virus that cause zombification are different depending on how close you were to the original subject. It’s like how doing a copy of a copy is always going to be more degraded than the original or the copy. Because of that, the film has both the traditional Romero shamblers but also the more modern running zombies and even some zombies that have rudimentary intelligence. The last element kind of hurts the image of zombies as humans driven on instinct, but I still thought it helped distinguish the movie. 

Damn, those are some creepy zombies.

Also to the film’s credit, the movie removed Chris D’elia after it was revealed that he’s a pedophile and replaced him with Tig Notaro. I would like to endorse this solution to all films in which one of the main characters ends up being played by a guy that needs to be replaced: Just CGI in Tig Notaro. Despite not being physically present for almost any of the film, she fits in perfectly and provides just the right level of levity. 

Let’s just go ahead and replace all controversial figures with Tig Notaro.

The action sequences and the zombie makeup are fantastic. They did a great job making the zombies look like Vegas dwellers, including zombie Elvis. Dave Bautista does a great job playing a guy who is more focused on getting his relationship with his daughter back than getting the money. The heist element works pretty well with the zombie elements. 

Zombie tigers are almost worth it on their own.

Overall, it’s a movie that I do recommend watching. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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