"I'll just get my gear."

Army of the Dead

I’ve been waiting for Zack Snyder’s ARMY OF THE DEAD since it was first announced in 2007, at which point he’d only directed DAWN OF THE DEAD and 300. Snyder would’ve produced and they had commercial director Matthijs van Heijningen (who later did the THE THING premaquel) set to direct. My understanding of the premise was that Las Vegas was walled off to contain a zombie outbreak, a team of mercenaries were hired to go in for a heist, and the hero was really trying to rescue his daughter who was stuck in there.

14 years later it exists in what could only be an entirely different form, since it’s directed by Snyder himself, rewritten by a guy who was 13 years old when it was announced, starring a guy who was a WWE wrestler and hadn’t even been in a David DeFalco movie yet, made with technology that didn’t exist, distributed on a service that didn’t exist. As always, Snyder is unpredictable. I definitely wouldn’t have guessed that I’d be happier with his 4 hour redux of JUSTICE LEAGUE than the zombie movie I’d already been waiting several years for when he did MAN OF STEEL. But here we are.

ARMY OF THE DEAD did not live up to my hopes, so I will share many complaints about it. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it – it’s an entertaining movie, especially for straight-to-Netflix. I recommend watching it if you’re into this sort of thing and won’t pull your hair out that it’s either surprisingly sloppy or prioritizes setting up anime spin-offs and fan theory speculation over telling a good story.

If it was ever intended to be connected to DAWN OF THE DEAD, that sure changed. It starts with the beginning of the zombie outbreak, which seems to be alien in origin. Newlyweds participating in a highway blowjob (a risky activity with a 0% survival rate in movies) collide with an army transport coming from Area 51, a big Hulk looking guy escapes from the truck, bites the soldiers and turns them into zombies, which head for Las Vegas.

One Snydery zombie battle musical montage opening credits sequence later we’re in a world where Vegas has been overrun by zombies, sealed off with a wall of shipping containers, and an unnamed president (Trump) has announced he’ll nuke the city on the 4th of July. Scott Ward (Dave Bautista, HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN), a highly decorated hero of the zombie wars who now flips burgers for a living, is approached by notorious casino owner Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada, RINGU, THE LAST SAMURAI, THE WOLVERINE) with a job offer: put together a team, sneak into Vegas and get the money out of my safe before it’s nuked, you get to keep $200 million.

So Scott goes to some old buddies and some others. You know I love a good old fashioned recruiting-the-team sequence. He gets his BWBFs (best war buddies forever) Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera, EMPIRE STATE) and Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick, GRIDIRON GANG, MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA), plus helicopter pilot Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro, LUCY IN THE SKY), goofy German safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer, VALKYRIE), and for some reason a young guy they don’t know named Mikey Guzman (Raul Castillo, KNIVES OUT) who’s internet famous for videos of doing trick shots on zombies.

To get the team in, Scott has to swallow his pride and ask for a favor from his estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell, NEVER LET ME GO, MALEFICENT, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN), who has barely spoken to him since he killed her (zombified) mom and who volunteers in the camps along the border wall.

What are the camps? I am unclear. I assumed they were for refugees, but later you find out the people are kept there against their will. I guess maybe they’re quarantined, that’s my best guess. Kate is not happy to see her dad, but accepts payment to connect him to a guard named Lilly (Nora Arnezeder, MANIAC) who will bring the team in. But when Kate realizes her friend Geeta (Huma Qureshi, GANGS OF WASSEYPUR) went in and never came back, she insists on going in too.

Maybe because of the alien factor, the zombie rules are unusual. Most of them are classical Romero style ghouls called “shamblers,” but to the surprise of the zombie war veterans the place is now run by intelligent, acrobatic I AM LEGEND type zombies Lilly calls “Alphas.” They were directly bitten by, and are now disciples of, the escaped alien zombie or whatever, referred to in reference materials as Zeus. This tall, ugly long hair reminded me of GHOSTS OF MARS, and I didn’t realize it was because the same guy, stuntman Richard Cetrone (MISSION OF JUSTICE, BEST OF THE BEST 4), actually is the main monster from that movie.

Lilly immediately becomes a stand out character when she reveals her plan (which I won’t spoil) to negotiate entry from Zeus’s zombie queen (stuntwoman Athena Perample), a very cool-looking character who moves bizarrely and pounces like a dancer playing an animal. Lilly guides the team through unique and cool obstacles including a territorial zombie tiger named Valentine (yes, specified as belonging to Siegfried & Roy) and halls full of asleep-standing-up zombies liable to wake if anyone bumps them.

Their benefactor sent along his head of security Martin, an untrustworthy asshole played by Garret Dillahunt (LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, BRAVEN) in his usual entertaining manner. So we have intrigue among the team as Martin tries to screw over Mikey’s friend Chambers (Samantha Win, MAN OF STEEL, WONDER WOMAN), who quickly earns our respect with some badass moves and a Vasquez-homaging bandana headband (there are a million ALIENS nods/lifts, which seems to bother people, but not me).

There’s a surplus of cool if one-dimensional characters here, at least for a while. It’s fun to see standup Notaro apply her wisecracking to a grizzled military lady. The joke of Dieter being a scaredy cat with no zombie killing experience somehow works after he and the giant Vanderohe bond over a shared tendency to ponder weird shit. And Scott is another really appealing character and performance by Bautista, a unique actor and movie star who always brings a quality to his movies that no one else could. His sincerity is the movie’s biggest strength, bouncing off a strong performance by Purnell.

There’s an important scene where Scott and Kate are on the roof looking for a backup generator and he proposes a plan for her to go to college, him to run a food truck, and the two to be family again. She blurts out something honest: sounds nice, but she’s hated him for so long she doesn’t think she’ll get past that. She immediately regrets her words and tries to rephrase it but – and this is by far the most human moment in the movie to me – Scott says he understands, and turns away to start working on the generator. Just politely suppressing the pain of the crushing blow, trying to numb the pain by pretending it’s nothing, not looking her in the eye, moving on to the mission.

He may not realize that this running away from his emotions into his work is exactly what he’s just learned caused their falling out in the first place. It was weird to suddenly get emotional in the middle of this thing, and now that I’ve tried to summarize the scene I realize it’s because it’s a feeling I relate to that’s not easy to articulate. (And also because Bautista is phenomenal in that moment and nothing is cooler to me than a giant tough guy being emotionally vulnerable.)

There’s also something to be said for the monsters as characters. There’s a bit of a mythology and storyline for them that has to be conveyed without dialogue, and I love that shit. I like that feeling of spying you get watching the goings-on of a bunch of non-humans doing weird shit crammed into a hotel. I love Zeus having a cape and a bullet proof mask and riding a horse, and everything that happens with the queen (SPOILER: including when she’s a severed head) is even better.

But this is also a place where the director’s usually impeccable visual gifts come up short, with uncharacteristically muddled visual storytelling. This may be partly a stylistic choice – he goes lighter on the slo-mo and heavier on the handheld than usual. It may also be budgetary – it doesn’t seem stylized like 300, but many of the outdoor scenes are distractingly green-screeny, the choice to constantly put the backgrounds out of focus failing to hide that. (There was also an actor replaced in post-production, and many of that character’s dialogue scenes play like Space Ghost Coast to Coast interviews to me.)

So it’s possible Snyder’s ambitions were too much for a Netflix budget and he wasn’t able to shoot what he normally would. But he does weird things like giving Zeu’s queen another companion who looks similar to Zeus, that I had to keep reminding myself was not him. I wondered if the queen was supposed to be the bride from the car crash in the opening scene, but she’s not. Did I miss something in the opening montage that explained where she came form? And if not, isn’t that something that would be worth explaining? I think it would. There’s also a Zeus scene of some significance where I was torn between two completely opposite interpretations of what was supposed to be going on (SPOILER: I think the baby was dead and he was growling in anger, but maybe it was alive and they were all celebrating since he holds it up Simba style).

Other issues seem to come from the script, which is credited to Snyder, Shay Hatten (JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3) and Joby Harold (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD). Some things that either weren’t explained, or I failed to comprehend: why was Geeta stuck, unharmed, in that hotel room? How did Kate know that was the building she was in? Why did everyone act like they only had to get outside of the wall to avoid the fallout of a fucking nuclear bomb? Was there a reason given for why Tanaka couldn’t help them get past his own security system and into his own safe? Also, I think there’s a pretty huge flaw in the premise once you get past a major plot twist, so SPOILER: we know that Tanaka already sent in a team that failed – their bodies are found (somehow decomposed) outside of the safe. But we find out Tanaka doesn’t actually care about the heist at all, he really sent them in so that Martin could sneak off and try to get an Alpha zombie to weaponize. So why did he need a team at all, or a fake mission to give them, and after it failed spectacularly, why did he do it again?

Okay, I suppose there’s a quasi-answer to the last part. When Vanderohe sees the mummified bodies he suggests that maybe they’re not the previous team, they’re them, and they’re stuck in a time loop, doing the mission over and over. I liked that because I took it as Vanderohe being a space case and/or just fucking with those guys. But the next day I saw on Twitter that the bodies really have identical clothing and jewelry, and Brian Collins sent me a quote from Snyder confirming that it’s supposed to be them:

“When I was with the costume designer, she was like, ‘Oh, so we’ll just put some zombies on the ground’. I’m like, ‘No, it’s them.’ And she goes, ‘how is it them?’ And I go, ‘I don’t know, how is it them? You tell me’. That’s always fun.”

So it becomes a Choose Your Own Adventure. Either you ignore it because it’s just some bullshit thrown in on a whim without a meaning or explanation in mind, or you take it seriously and figure out what it means for the story. Of course some Snyderites on Twitter chose the latter and are convinced many of the scenes intentionally don’t make sense because we’re watching a selection of scenes from various timelines.

(Snyder also threw in other tiny details to theorize about – turns out some of the zombies have robot parts?)

There is one thing I like about the time loop idea, but this necessitates we move on to a FULL ON SPOILER ZONE for the rest of this review. So – make good choices for yourselves.

I do think it would be cool if there was a straight-to-Netflix-non-theatrical sequel where they get to try again and do better. Because almost every complaint I’ve made here would be much easier to forgive if there was a satisfying victory at the end. Instead it feigns being a fun crowdpleaser action romp long enough to then say “Ha ha fuck you nihilism 4eva.” George Romero, who spawned this entire genre as well as Snyder’s movie career, correctly felt that the status quo could never be restored in his movies. But when he killed Peter in DAWN OF THE DEAD he realized it was a mistake and reshot it. Even the way more serious and bleak than this DAY OF THE DEAD allows for some sense of victory and survival at the end.

Obviously characters you like need to die in horror, and this was a deliberate choice. If you want us to feel like anything could happen, I guess you kill off a character that we like, and then another character that we like, and then all of the characters we like, leaving only one survivor, who failed at her mission (at least as far as we know, since they didn’t bother to verbally or visually confirm that Geeta died in the helicopter crash). It should be called DON’T GET ATTACHED. Even the opening credits are like a short film with a devastating ending where the central character dies and fails. To really rub it in, the first and last kills in the movie proper are characters who seem to have died off screen but then return in a really badass and exciting way and then – psyche – quickly die anyway.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, it mostly works, but in thinking about it further I started to wonder if this dedication to subverting audience satisfaction was also the reason for the lack of follow through on some of the cool things it sets up. There are these apparent blunders like making a huge deal about Vanderohe’s love for his giant saw weapon and Mikey’s fancy trick shots but not doing much with them, or establishing the existence of desiccated zombie piles said to reconstitute in the rain and then not having it ever rain. It’s like if in GREMLINS they said not to get them wet or feed them after midnight and then they never got wet or fed after midnight.

Is it possible that was deliberately trying to disappoint us? For laughs? Ha ha, you thought something cool was gonna happen, but it didn’t. DID I BLOW YOUR MIND?

I don’t know, but the one area I can think of where ARMY OF THE DEAD does operate in a traditional crowd-pleasing manner is in setting up two very hissable asshole characters and then giving them extravagant, “deserved” deaths. I mean, I love that, but it’s telling me maybe this movie isn’t trying to be cruel to the audience, maybe that’s just a side effect of it being cruel in general.

I’m positive I would like this movie better if it gave us more of a victory at the end, but I think this nasty approach can be justified in one way. There’s an obvious irony to the fact that the sole survivor, Kate, is the person who wasn’t planning to go in with them in the first place, and that she failed to save the person she went in for (or even get the money). But of course it can’t be said that she got nothing out of it, because she made peace with the father she hated, before it was too late.

That’s obviously the point of this story. I don’t know if it was rewritten to be that way, or if that was the idea all along. But for a director who lost his daughter to suicide to make a movie where only the daughter lives and her dad and everyone else die, obviously there’s something there.

(But also I’ve see some argue that she got them all killed by running off to fail to save Geeta, causing them to come after her. So maybe if she’d stayed home her dad could’ve lived and she’d have more time to make up with him.)

ARMY OF THE DEAD is cool, it’s fun, it’s so fucking stupid, it’s kind of infuriating, kind of fascinating, I wish it was so much better, but I think I like it. So yeah, a Zack Snyder movie.

P.S. I think we’re pretty safe from ZAnon cultists around here, but before anyone gets on my ass about any of this you should know I’ve been digging into Zack Snyder movies since before you were born young man

     DAWN OF THE DEAD
     300
     WATCHMEN
     LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE
     SUCKER PUNCH
     another piece about SUCKER PUNCH
     (300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE)
     MAN OF STEEL
     another piece about MAN OF STEEL
     and another piece about MAN OF STEEL
     BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
     JUSTICE LEAGUE
     ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE

so there

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 at 10:01 am and is filed under Action, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

117 Responses to “Army of the Dead”

  1. Sounds like they really should’ve given us another season of Z NATION instead.

  2. “Why did everyone act like they only had to get outside of the wall to avoid the fallout of a fucking nuclear bomb?”

    Yeah, that bothered me with True Lies, as well. Return of the Living Dead was more realistic.

  3. Yeah this one is weird…I enjoyed it as a piece of trash I’d never watch again, but it was pretty weak overall. Frankly if Bautista wasn’t in it I may not have watched it at all but I love that guy. A lot of people hated the cinematography…I wouldn’t want more movies looking like that, but thought it was an interesting experiment. I actually think Tig got integrated pretty well, I think if no one knew she was inserted no one would have noticed. Since we DO know that, everyone just watches for it. But it’s not like where they had to use stock footage of Livia in The Sopranos…that stuck out and I didn’t know she had died at the time I saw it, I don’t think (I came to the show way later).

    Actually the time loop being real DOES make sense given that robot zombie…so tat’s interesting. Maybe they’ll give a shit when they write the next script. I thought the same thing bout the safe, why would they have to break into it when the guy who OWNS it sends them in? As for the head subplot I can go with it…maybe the head was the main objective, but at the same time if you could ALSO get your 200 mil back that’s a pretty nice bonus.

  4. Great review. I had a similar response, you touched on my gripes & feelings about the films issues. I also agree that this films feels like it is in part shaped by the tragedy of loosing his daughter the way he did. I wonder if those elements were there over the years of development or got added to the production later? While I still enjoyed this film it did feel like a bit of a regression for ZS.

  5. the cash carrot was only 50mill, with the core 3 getting 15mill each, the pilot getting 2mill, and 300 – 500k for the rest of the team, and the olympus was shouted out as to where the zombies where turning folks so the daughter did have a legit clue to that location for geeta. as far as the “escape the zone” for the radiation, wasnt it established that it was going to be a low grade nuke? not sure what that equates to as far as a rad zone, but i guess that makes it ok? i was pretty conflicted with the first viewing and after a rewatch yesterday, i feel like your review aptly describes good/bad nature pretty succinctly, hopefully the branching media that they sacrificed the material for pays off down the road.

  6. This is where my indifference to cinematography pays off. The movie looked fine to me. I could see everything I needed to see, and the things I could see were worth seeing. Beyond that, I don’t give that much of a shit what a movie looks like. This Barbara Walters “shot through a screen door” soft focus look isn’t my best one but whatever. I’ll take it over the colorless dirgery of THE SNYDER CUT, that’s for fucking sure.

    Speaking of that whole fiasco, THE ARMY THAT’S DEAD was good enough that it gave Snyder a reprieve from what I had thought would be a lifetime boycott of ever fucking wanting to hear his goddamn name ever again. Snyder finally took the three-foot stick out of his ass and allowed a little human personality to intrude on his pompousness, and this allowed his imagery to pop for the first time in years. Fast, funny, gory as hell, and full of colorful characters who you can tell apart but aren’t so likable you don’t want to see them torn to pieces, it’s easily the best zombie thing in a decade. These prequels and anime spin-offs can eat a bowl of whole wheat dicks (that sounds an awful lot like “world-building,” a phrase that I think we all agree has no business being used in the same sentence as the name Zack Snyder) but for a single-serving bloody lark, it’s aces.

    No more superheroes, Zack. They’re no good for you. You can’t kill everybody in the movie the way your bliss tells you to when you’re dealing with century-old corporate trademarks. Just make your own characters and you can splatter them all over the screen whenever you want. Since you kinda suck at creating people we give a shit about, that seems like a win-win for everybody.

  7. Well, shit, I spent the entire movie and up to the point of reading this review, thinking Omari Hardwick was Michael Jai White and that they *really* wasted his potential. Don’t I feel like a racist asshole who couldn’t tell 2 black actors apart?

    After I watched this I thought, it was okay. Now I’m leaning more towards, yeah, it wasn’t good.

    *SPOILERS* I thought I imagined the robot zombie. I said out loud, did that zombie have a terminator face? Then I thought I had mistaken the blue sparkly details the alpha zombies had with metallic robot parts. Also, the blueness thing makes me think the baby died, because it was blue when he first pulled it out but then it faded to red.

  8. Mike the nuke thing didn’t bother me either, it’s like those test nukes in the 50s where they’d have a bunch of soldiers watching it. They didn’t all fall over dead. Not to say I’D want to be anywhere close to a nuke but can be done with a small enough one.

  9. Really great review. I’m on the same page. I enjoyed it well enough when I was watching it, but it’s got a lot of issues. Going by the premise and the director and cast this should have been a home run, but it’s only a single.

  10. Franchise Fred

    June 1st, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Gotta correct your highway blowjob fatality statistic. Mary Steenburgen alone is responsible for 2 (Parenthood and Book Club) which did not result in death. Both escaped with minor injuries.

  11. “I actually think Tig got integrated pretty well, I think if no one knew she was inserted no one would have noticed. Since we DO know that, everyone just watches for it.”

    Agree 1000%. I wish I hadn’t known beforehand, because I definitely wouldn’t have noticed; every character was shot in close-up with virtually nonexistent background due to weird/stupid depth-of-field trickery anyhow, so whatthefuckever. Yes, giant plot holes; yes, tons of potentially cool shit that didn’t pay off; yes, nihilism for its own sake; yes, weird Terminator zombies that made me think I was going crazy or that this was gonna go all Westworld before the end…still, I enjoyed it while it was on. Bautista is a ridiculously good actor – he gives the kind of performance The Rock shocks people with in stuff like Snitch or Pain & Gain, but he does it *every time*. And the actress playing the zombie queen was great, too. I won’t watch this again, but I’m glad I watched it once.

  12. Muh, those people are called Downwinders and they got cancer. Down in the southwest when they were testing the bombs people used to bring picnics and sit on the hillsides and watch the mushroom clouds.

  13. My first thought after seeing this. “Shouldn’t James Cameron be calling his lawyer?”

    Didn’t care for this. Snyder’s Dawn of the dead remake was much better.

  14. I made the fatal mistake – as with LAND OF THE DEAD – of really looking forward to this. Bautista is great in many roles. I thought BUSHWICK was brilliant and he has a kindliness behind the toughness. I also loved Synder’s DAWN OF THE DEAD, and he can direct beautifully. But ARMY OF THE DEAD felt like a very good 1h30m movie trying to escape from the fluff. Verna Fields would have turned this into a great film. Why does it seem that almost every major release is over two hours? Movie-makers seem to be trying to replicate TV binge-watching without the content. The beauty of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA touches close to four hours but there is so much in there. With AOTD it would have been so easy to sort out. THE WALKING DEAD could have been great too. Ah well, on we wander…

  15. This was a failure on all fronts for me. The out of focus cinematography was an egregious, unforced error, and I will never watch another movie that does it. Worse than the shaky cam handheld stuff from the mid-2000s. When your whole aesthetic is predicated on hiding visual information from the viewer, you have entered a death spiral from which you cannot escape. It’s even worse that Snyder did it, since his best attribute as a filmmaker is presenting clean, visually interesting tableaus.

    The “team” was uniformly juvenile and uninteresting. The movie seemed to expect big laughs every time the German guy screamed like a girl. Dave Bautista’s daughter looked like she was attending the first weekend of Coachella, not infiltrating a Zombified war zone. Naturally, she was useless and got everybody killed. I like Garret Dillahunt, but his character was more one-dimensional than a Cartesian coordinate. His betrayal of the rest of the group was telegraphed so hard that I was actually surprised the film did not subvert it in some way, and it goes without saying that it made zero logical sense for him to wake up the zombies in a fit of pique. (I will grant that his death scene was the best part of the movie and made me laugh). Everyone else was a nonentity that I’ve already forgotten.

    I usually find something worthwhile in Snyder movies, but this one had basically nothing going for it, apart from an interesting opening credits vignette. Sorry for the negative vibes.

  16. Well, obviously the nuke thing doesn’t matter – it’s almost a joke that the characters are being ludicrously flippant about it, and Snyder uses our experience having recently been Trumped to explain why the government would do something so reckless and stupid. Either you find it distracting or not. But I don’t think the interpretation that it’s a very small, wimpy nuclear bomb that’s not a danger to anyone nearby fits with the idea that it will definitely wipe out each and every zombie within the walls. Either it’s one or the other.

  17. Maggie I am aware of downwinders…I mean no one’s arguing you can’t end up getting cancer. But that’s like saying they should be super scared of what may happen down the line, much like criminals are always certain they’ll be caught and go to prison for 20 years. People willing to go into a zombie zone with thousands of fast running zombies with just what they carry on their back aren’t necessarily thinking long term.

    I mean hell, some guy was in the blast zone of BOTH atomic bombs we dropped and lived to be a really old guy (same with his wife who was in at least one).

    I agree with Redacted about the Dilahunt character, you’d think there may be some sort of wrinkle to this obvious setup…but then we forget it’s a Zach Snyder joint!

  18. I know “a great movie isn’t what it’s about, it’s how it’s about,” but for a movie with the can’t-miss premise of zombie heist movie–and the cheaper, more cynical ‘real’ premise of “Aliens but with zombies,” which still isn’t the worst thing in the world–Man. It’s like Snyder isn’t even bothering. For all the talk of world-building and universes, there’s pretty much no effort made to pretend these aren’t characters in a dumb movie doing dumb movie things.

    I keep getting stuck on Garrett Dillahunt as the Burke character (or, rather, a secondary Burke working for the real Burke, who doesn’t even get a comeuppance) and how the good, sympathetic characters are already talking about wasting him before he’s done anything slimy or untrustworthy. Because this is all a dumb movie and he’s the dumb movie traitor guy. No need to pretend that these are all real people and they’re taken in by his bullshit, or even to have them be wise to his bullshit and outthink him. No, they’ll just treat him like an untrustworthy weasel based on nothing, until he acts like an untrustworthy weasel, which takes them by complete surprise.

    I know I’m not supposed to ask for this kind of movie to be smart, but can it at least try not to be dumb?

  19. Yeah, the fact that they didn’t even get revenge on the businessman who sent them there…it’s like what the fuck? I’m sure Snyder will be answering all of these questions in the second sequel to the spinoff which sets up a new limited prequel series. Make sure to see them all if you want to know what the fuck is going on!

  20. “I know I’m not supposed to ask for this kind of movie to be smart, but can it at least try not to be dumb?”

    I know, right????

    Yeah, you think you’re making THE DIRTY DOZEN by way of OCEAN’S 11 filtered through a Zombie Apocalypse, but as long as what you’re actually doing is ripping off ALIENS for vast chunks of your running time, can you at least aim for HALF the intelligence of it’s writing?

    One of the (many) beautiful things about ALIENS was the subversion of who you think Burke really is . For the 1st hour at least, Burke is actually the nicest guy in the movie. Played with casual good humor by Paul Reiser, he’s the voice of reason, frequently reigning in and even trying to admonish a clearly PTSD-ed Ripley when she flies off the handle. It’s after they reach the colony that he begins exhibiting the Corporate Lackey Asshole demeanor hiding behind the suit and smile, especially when he sees the financial windfall from smuggling out some Xenomorph embryos.

    ARMY OF THE DEAD has the Dillahunt/Burke Rip-Off character become the object of scorn, derision and suspicion right off the bat. The Vasquez-rip off turns to him and says, “I don’t trust anyone but I especially don’t trust you?”Errrr…why?He’s a White Man in Authority? She doesn’t like his shades? What’s the commentary you’re going for here?

    And speaking of the Vasquez rip off, she crashes through the window fighting off a horde of zombies, not even severely injured or dying at that point, there’s a dozen of her team-mates standing barely 2 feet away heavily armed and they make a judgement call to leave her “cause she’s dead already???”

    Motherfucker, I swear to God Hollywood scripts these days get banged out while the writer takes a shit and then hits send before the flush.

    It pains me to write all of the above as I’ve shouted myself hoarse, especially around these parts defending Zack Snyder, but freed from the shackles of Studio Micro Management, you’d think he’d push back against a script containing more holes than a lesbian orgy.

    I enjoyed the last hour, when Snyder ramps up the action spectacularly, giving you some Hard R-Rated Zombie Carnage with the slo-mo scaled way back. I loved that he swapped out his usual monochromatic visuals for a rich and vibrant color palette. And that killer intro! The rest is hot garbage.

  21. KayKay, Dillahunt is a lackey for THE MAN here. We know we can’t trust him, so it’s no surprise what so ever that it turns out we can’t. It could just be a stroke of genious writing. And besides, it’s…Dillahunt! By casting him you’re sending some signals.

  22. “ARMY OF THE DEAD has the Dillahunt/Burke Rip-Off character become the object of scorn, derision and suspicion right off the bat. The Vasquez-rip off turns to him and says, “I don’t trust anyone but I especially don’t trust you?”Errrr…why?”

    Obviously, the characters had all seen Aliens.

    This had some dumb, fun moments, but the dumb really outweighed the fun. I’m fine with Zack Snyder movies…some I enjoy, some I don’t…but this one felt lackadaisical in execution. It was a great premise for a Summer movie, but it felt too jammed-full of half-baked ideas and concepts that never helped to move the story along or provide any sort of explanation for the events that happened.

  23. “And besides, it’s…Dillahunt! By casting him you’re sending some signals”

    pegs, by that logic, if Sean Bean was part of the group, I suppose at some point someone’s gonna turn to him and say, “I don’t think you’re gonna make it ,buddy” :-)

    It speaks to some of the benefits of against-type casting.

  24. “but it felt too jammed-full of half-baked ideas and concepts that never helped to move the story”

    Not to mention blue-balling the audience with the expectation of some cool developments which it never pays off:

    Blonde guide standing amidst a sea of corpses: You should see when it rains, and they come alive.

    Cool! Can’t wait for that….oh, sheesh, I guess not

    Pregnant Zombie! Zombie baby! A Zombie hierarchy! Wow, can’t wait to see how it twists the narrative further…shit, I guess it doesn’t.

    Bautista’s daughter is such an annoying piece of shit I can’t wait for her gruesome death….ah fuck!

  25. I loved the Snyder Cut, to my own surprise. “Holy shit,” I thought, “maybe Snyder has leveled up and his movies will be good now.” So I was pretty excited for this…

    Reader, I was bored silly. This is the most boring Zack Snyder movie I’ve seen.

    A Snyder movie can be over the top, it can be pretentious, it can have too much slow-mo, and I’ll still defend it. But I draw the line at fucking boring. No thanks.

    I turned it off halfway through.

  26. SaragossaManuscript

    June 2nd, 2021 at 3:30 am

    Surprised no one mentioned the music. It was the cherry on the top of the cringe sundae that was this movie for me. Nice to see Tig and Bautista though. Zombie cat was my favorite character. Just make a whole movie about zombie cats next time please Mr. Snyder.

  27. Terrible movie, one of those that doesn´t seem so bad while you are watching it but after it ends you realize you just waste a whole evening and has been scammed any legit entertainment.

    “I think if no one knew she was inserted no one would have noticed. Since we DO know that, everyone just watches for it. ”
    Similarly, if you didn’t know who Snyder is and what has happened to him in the last few years, you wouldn’t read some crazy things I have read about this movie (not here though). “It’s the most personal since Sucker Punch”, “he is noticeably freer than in his DC movies of him”,
    “He tries to deal with the death of his daughter from him” … Bullshit !! He doesn´t give a fuck about anything that happens here and i´m sure he only has directed it because his only universally well recived movie was Dawn of the Dead and it didn´t look like the Snyder Cut was ever gonna get out (which, by the way, really, really liked).
    But clearly he doesn´t give a fuck about the characters, who beyond the Pilot and the Safecracker are absolutly blanks, not even stereotypes; doesn´t gives fuck about the barely explained heist, which the german guy solves mostly offscreen !! Doesn´t give a fuck Las Vegas overriden by zombies, beyond the opening credits it could happen in any city and they may as well by robbing a bank. He doesn´t gives a fuck about the action set pieces or visual gags he usually excells, here he give us the most generic of his career. And certainly he does not care about Bautista’s relationship with his daughter, its Stock Trauma 101 that fills so many blockbusters nowdays, that scene that Vern single out it didn´t even registers to me, it was something out of a crappy Lost subplot. The only thing he seems to gives a minimum of care is this new zombie mithology with the Alphas, because in Snyder´s world even the zombies are divided in naturally born superior and inferior races, but what we briefly see of their rites and inner workings was interesting.
    And yes, it’s mindbending that he doesn’t even bother to show whether the woman they’ve been trying to rescue throughout the whole movie survived or not or to give a closure to the rich guy that has basically kill them all.
    I could be listing plotholes and non-payoffs all day, so i will only add a few that I have not seen mentioned anywhere:
    -When they are recruiting the black guy (I’m surprised anyone can remember the names of any of the characters) he says that he has PTSD from all his years killing zombies and that he starts to see them as the people they used to be .
    This never comes back and he justs kills them with no problem, he even he seems to enjoy it.
    – Whats the deal with the third guy who accompanies the Latinos to the meeting? The one who says “I didn´t realize you guys were for real with this zombie thing” and then just leaves without even getting a close up. Is it supposed to be a meta joke? A set up for the sequels? Que?
    – When the traitor guy locks them up with the metal grid why they don’t cut up through it with the radial saw? Instead they used with a fucking concrete wall !!
    – If helicopters can´t fly in Las Vegas without getting shoot down why they think they can just fly out? Why can’t they come back through the same container door they went in?

    The whole thing feels like has been thought backwards, if i´m allowed to play the armchair writer: wouldn´t be more interesting if the mercs were hired to take the alphas head from the beginning , or a simirlarly “honest” objective, but before going in they decide “hell, since we are here may as well take some money that nobody is gonna miss” and then the greed get the best of them and they get fuck up. But i guess it too easy to see those things from the outside.

    Also really funny in one of the interviews with Snyder where he says he doesn´t want to judge the characters or tell you what you should think of them. Yeah, right, that’s why only the two completely bad (the rapist and the traitor) are the only ones with horrible deaths and the rest die sacrificing heroically in some way or another.
    Long time reader here, by the way, but i hardly ever get carried away by movies anymore, positively or negatively, to write anything. So congrats to Snyder for broke me down, i guess.

  28. So let me get this straight. I’ve spent the last several months publicly cursing Zack Snyder’s name and wishing his magnum opus would be shot into the sun so no one would ever have to talk about it again…and I’m STILL the guy’s biggest fan around here? Damn, man, this motherfucker can’t catch a break.

    For the record, you all aren’t wrong about your complaints. It just never occurred to me to give a fuck about any of them. This movie announces itself as a stupid zombie comedy right from the jump and I guess I just took its word for it.

  29. I’m with you, Majestyk. I had a reasonably good time watching it, and I’m not a fan of neither Snyder nor zombies.

  30. I really wanted to love this movie. When I heard it announced, I was excited. When the trailer hit, I was counting the days. Then I saw it and all the disappointment set in. Did they not have the required 5yr old on the writing staff to point out plot holes? When the heist portion of the plot was introduced, flying off with 200 million (in cash) in a helicopter, my first thought was “do the writers know how much space 200 million takes up, and how much that weighs?” When the characters pulled out duffel bags, all I could think of was “this is going to take many trips”. Add the shaky cam footage, the constant red herrings and the ‘wouldn’t it be cool if?” feeling of all the zombie “innovations” to the trope and I was thoroughly unhappy with wasting 2 1/2 hours.

  31. Majestyk, just for the sake of a discussion, how does ARMY OF THE DEAD announce itself, “right from the jump” as a stupid zombie flick, unless you’re pre-disposed to lumping everything in this genre under that all-encompassing umbrella? Sure, there were stripper zombies and an Elvis one in the opening scenes, but that just worked organically given the kitsch factor of setting the movie in Vegas. The intro promised a wild, over-the-top and tongue in cheek tone, certainly not a dumb one. And given that I became a Snyder fan from DAWN OF THE DEAD, still a great movie, it was reasonable to expect he’d knock this one out of the park as well and equally reasonable to be disappointed when I got a mish-mash of unrealized concepts and drop dead stupid writing in parts.

    So you basically critic-proofed yourself in advance by deciding you weren’t gonna give a fuck about any of the movie’s shortcomings? Cool. But by that logic, SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE should have been CITIZEN FUCKING KANE , given that MAN OF STEEL and BvS:DAWN OF JUSTICE gave you ample notice that JL would logically continue Snyder’s Grim Dark version of the DCEU. So why is that movie the biggest blight on the cinematic horizon (given your comments) while the deeply asinine ARMY OF THE DEAD is such an enjoyable romp? Did you decide ahead of time you were gonna hate the former but love the latter? That’s not a dig, by the way. I myself am hard-wired to detest certain movies right off the bat. Anything with Melisa McCarthy or Amy Schumer for instance. I hate those movies even before the cameras begin to roll.

    Just curious on how we hard-wire our reactions to certain movies ahead of watching them.

    P.S: Another curious observation: I also see words like “stupid zombie comedy” and “reasonably good time” in relation to AOTD but this fucking movie even skimps on the feel good ending which you expect from stupid comedies that give you a good time. Virtually EVERYONE dies. The fact that the Strong Silent Hero bites it while his Asshole Daughter doesn’t eradicated my last vestige of goodwill.

    P.P.S: Am still a Snyder fan. It’s gonna take more than one giant miss-step for me to hate the guy. And, NO! SUCKER PUNCH and THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE are NOT mistakes in my book.

  32. I mean, the Richard Cheese song that talks back to the movie was kind of a dead giveaway that we should not be taking any of this very seriously, in my opinion.

  33. Also, you are misinterpreting me. I am not apologizing for any “shortcomings.” After years of fucking garbage “elevated” horror that expects me to stare at mopey sadsacks in gray rooms experiencing pretentious metaphors for the grieving process for two and a half hours at a pop, a movie that is just like “Hey guys! Here’s some crazy splattery crap! It’s colorful and it means nothing! Enjoy!” was exactly what I wanted. Anything that attempts to make the movie make more sense or explain more or be consistent or whatever the fuck would actively make the movie worse for me. Fuck all that. I never asked for another zombie movie, but if one absolutely has to be made, please just use it as an excuse for a succession of ridiculous gags and save all that other garbage for the ghost movies. I wanted a geek show and a geek show I got. I don’t apologize for a good time.

  34. Apropos of wandering over to the Cop Out review recently, is Zach Snyder some kind of Earth-X Earth-2 Ultimate Universe Counter-Earth version of Kevin Smith? A guy who almost peevishly refuses to work on or improve his craft no matter how long his career stretches?

  35. “I don’t apologize for a good time.”

    Nobody should. If I’m not planning on apologizing for watching the Snyder Cut 3 times (twice in color, once in B&W) practically back to back, then neither should you if AOTD rocked your world for 2.5 hours.

    Am content to part ways on those amicable terms.

  36. I wouldn’t say it rocked my world but I definitely had fun. That’s about all I ask of a movie these days.

  37. grimgrinningchris

    June 2nd, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    I don’t have too much to add that hasn’t already been said (both complaints AND kudos).

    My lady and I mostly enjoyed watching it and are glad we did… though I doubt either of us will revisit it any time soon.
    Did dig a fair bit of the action, a couple of the characters and some of the zombie designs… including but not limited to the queen and “patient zero” with the cape… so it definitely wasnt a waste of that 2 hours…

    SPOILERS FORTHCOMING

    My main complaints are
    The headache inducing blurry/dark shooting that’s been mentioned before.
    The rub your nose in shit bummer of them killing every single likable lead… leaving the most useless, annoying, fucked up and got people killed than helping anything or anyone as the only survivor.
    And as Vern and others have mentioned- the lack of Vegasness- save for the (better than anything else in the movie… Hi, Zack Snyder- opening) and two scenes on a casino floor- this really could have been any city and any building anywhere. Lame.
    It’s like Vern’s issue with movies set around Halloween that don’t lean into the holiday and it’s unique iconography.

    All of that said, I would have forgiven ALL of those issues (and it would have gone a long way towards fixing the last one.) If Siegfried had shown up with a big ornate crate and made the zombie Tiger disappear.

  38. Even though I think the Snyder Cut is a lot better than this, I mostly side with Majestyk in being taken aback by some of the vitriol here. You guys are right about what’s bad about it, but in the scheme of the movie, those things don’t determine what makes it enjoyable for me.

    And it announces itself as a stupid zombie movie from the start because the inciting incident is road head.

  39. I dunno, Majestyk, I actually liked this movie precisely BECAUSE I took it as a two and a half hour metaphor for the grieving process. Sure it’s sloppy and over-long and self-indulgent, but it also felt like Snyder’s very personal way of saying goodbye to his daughter buried under there. I just lost my mom and we didn’t have anything even close to a proper goodbye, and Bautista’s final scene with his daughter floored me. The way he comforts her, the way he tells her “you don’t have to do that”, when she’s trying to tell him it’s not that bad – it’s the best acting of Bautista’s career which is a sentence that sounds like a joke but really means something to me. It’s two people finally coming clean and laying everything bare and shedding all layers of bullshit even though it’s obviously way too late but at least they’re getting it in there. Maybe I’m in a nihilistic mood, but I actually kinda felt in the movie’s Snyder-ian way, it actually was a victorious ending, which didn’t rub me the wrong way like it did Vern. Whereas 300 seems to say “Death comes for us all, it’ll get you eventually. The best you can hope for is to go out like a boss on your own two feet sticking it to the man and becoming a legend”, this movie counters with “When death comes, the best you can hope for is to make amends in your life and let the people that you love know how much they mean to you.” It’s simple and powerful and I also love that this movie is basically Snyder’s way of telling his daughter “I don’t care about any youthful mistakes you made, or any naive terrible ideas you had. I would have gladly traded the life of me and all my friends for you to be safe”.

    So yeah, I absolutely loved this movie but I still think it’s kinda in the bottom tier of Snyder movies. His dialogue for the first time seems to be going for an almost Yorgos Lanthimos-level of on-the-noseness, which is sometimes hilarious (courtesy of Notaro’s dry delivery), but mostly just lazy. It’s like The Art of Self-Defense where I’m wondering how much of the dialogue is parody, and how much is it a placeholder that was supposed to be replaced with real dialogue at some point. Also, the plot is shockingly really, really similar to the DTV House of the Dead 2, which is extra weird since Theo Rossi (the ICE agent metaphor guy) is in both of them.

    *I’m not sure why the 50 or so Aliens homages didn’t bother me, when stuff like the last Resident Evil ripping off Robocop really rubbed me the wrong way. But I do think that Garrett Dillahunt’s death scene is a glorious meta response to Paul Reiser’s death in Aliens. Snyder basically seems to be saying “Hey remember how you didn’t see Burke die? Well now you’re going to get an exact copy of that scene except we’re going to linger on his death way, way too long until it becomes comical.”

  40. Neal: You’re right, I should have chosen something else as an example of the kind of doleful subtext that overwhelms so much modern horror, because this one actually IS a metaphor for the grieving process. But it’s an ENTERTAINING metaphor for the grieving process, and that’s just fine with me.

  41. Sorry to hear about your mom, Neal. And I really like your reading of the movie. I understand why it’s become a punchline that filmmakers and/or online essaysists say every movie is “about grief” or “about trauma,” and there are many movies that are intentionally about those topics that don’t really do it for me. But I’ve found, especially closer to my parents’ deaths but even to this day, the exaggerated ways death is sometimes dealt with in horror really does help me to process it. I mean, the extravagant awfulness of the tragedy that kicks of MIDSOMMAR honestly made me feel seen (as they say), because that’s kind of how life can feel sometimes. And I definitely agree that some of ARMY OF THE DEAD is dealing with real emotions in a way that’s unique to Snyder’s ridiculous filmmaking. And that’s kind of beautiful.

  42. neal2zod: Regardless of my own feelings towards this movie, you have my sincere condolences for your loss. And if this film in any way helped in processing your grief, then that’s a far greater justification for it’s existence than adding coin to the Netflix coffers.

  43. Just realized that there must be some universe where Larry Cohen was the one who put the proof in this pudding. Now imagine the crazy shit he would’ve pulled with “zombies have taken over Las Vegas and a group of commandos is pulling a heist before it’s nuked.”

  44. Franchise Fred

    June 2nd, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Oh no, Neal2Zod, I’m so sorry for your and your family’s loss.

  45. neal2zod- I have missed you, and wondered what your thoughts would be on a number of our discussions here recently. Glad to see you again but very sorry for your loss. My condolences.

    Kaplan- I must admit I don’t really get the Smith\Snyder comparison. I guess you could say Snyder hasn’t develop much as an artist since 300 or perhaps WATCHMEN, but he’s very technically proficient, and the escalating budgets imply a certain learning curve. Smith has pushed himself a little more than people might give him credit for, but he seems not to be willing to refine his technical skillset, and in the last 15 years seems to default back to going to “eh, I’m just a goof, and in many ways films are a side role to my life as a professional orator”. Unless you mean Snyder as a storyteller?

  46. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 4:40 am

    I think Smith HAS pushed himself. It’s his audience pushing back that’s the problem.

    Any time he steps out of his wheelhouse either visually or story wise the “fans” cry foul.

    Hell, next to Dogma, I think Jersey Girl is his best. In no small part from handing the camera (which was his stepping out his box on its own) over to Villa Zsigmond and standout performances by Raquel Castro and George Carlin.
    But then everyone, ESPECIALLY the fans, shit all over it… so he went back to the well.

    He got that out of his system with Clerks 2 and had a minor, hit critically and financially (more from DVD sales than any bigger BO haul than usual) with it.

    So then he steps outside his box again and makes 2 really fucking weird horror movies that work to varying degrees but still remain amazing acting showcases for Michael Parks.
    And the fans (and quite a few critics) shit all over those as well, despite being very interesting on their own, even when they dont work, and definitely him at least TRYING something new.

    Then he made Yoga Hosers… and we just won’t talk about that.

    And then… back to the well.

    Like he progressed and then regressed when he realized that all his fans want us him fucking around with his friends in low budget stoner comedies. And he prolly figured after all these years that that’s what he has the most fun and least stress doing anyway.

    But he did progress and he did try to do very different things- whether they were all successful (financially or creatively) or not.

    On the other hand, Snyder has done nor even tried either of those things. At all. Bigger stars, bigger budgets (well until Army… but I think all the $ they threw at him to do TSC weighs that out.) same shit.
    And this from someone who still unabashedly loves everything he did pre-MOS.

  47. I don’t see how Smith “going back to the well” is appreciably different from any other filmmaker with a signature mode. He’s certainly been a lot more varied in his approach than far more respected writer-directors like, say, Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach or Paul Thomas Anderson, who’ve never even attempted to tackle material as disparate as RED STATE and REBOOT. Plenty of other filmmakers also fail to reach escape velocity from the style of film that made them famous. De Palma made other kinds of movies but will always be associated with Hitchcockian thrillers. John Woo has done sci-fi and period pieces but will never top his vintage HK action period. So it’s unsurprising that Smith periodically revisits the bedrock of his career in between less successful experimentations. At least Smith owns his characters and his world and can explore them however he wants. He’s not selling the remake rights to carpetbaggers. I don’t see how Smith gets slagged on for not showing growth or whatever for further exploring his own creations when we live in a culture almost entirely comprised of hired hands remixing other artists’ work. David Gordon Green is some kind of auteur for doing lame HALLOWEEN fan-fic but Smith is a hack for making sequels to his own movies? I don’t get it. It’s the fucking world that can’t move on, not Kevin Smith.

  48. I think that’s a solid point, but honestly the majority of the world has moved on from Smith and that’s the problem for him. Smith is the AICN of film directors, who came up in the world at that point in time where referencing DAREDEVIL or even anything specific about STAR WARS was like a secret handshake that relatively few knew but plenty were curious about, it was thrilling to be in on and exotic to witness. Now everyone knows that handshake, those kind of references were the backbone of the world’s most popular sitcom for ten years that no one will admit to liking, and his other calling card, transgression, isn’t that big a deal after SOUTH PARK, FAMILY GUY, a million Apatow and Fauxpatow movies and James Gunn smuggling barely disguised seamen jokes into family friendly blockbusters. That’s why I think you hear fewer and fewer paeans to CLERKS and CHASING AMY each year, and that’s a large part of why a lot of people aren’t that excited when he announces MOOBY VS THE SHIT DEMON or whatever.

    But, people like working with him, people like watching and listening to him, and there’s still a fairly small but loyal following out there who will count down the days to MALLRATS II and CLERKS III when the release dates are confirmed, and when they get there they’ll enjoy ever second of them, and there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

    Don’t get me started on Wes Anderson though. I mean unless you want to read two or three sentences about why I don’t like him that much.

  49. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 8:11 am

    I totally brain farted on Zach & Miri. Which I actually think is very very funny and the cast overall is great.

    But it underperforming was the real impetus for him leaving the Weinsteins (well that and a huge fight with Harvey- and realizing that he was going against Gretaky’s “don’t chase after where the puck is… be where the puck is going”- or something similar- quote and making a subconscious effort to go after the Apatow crowd- going so far as allowing to s of Apatow-ish improv, when he’d previously made actors slavishly stick to his scripts and the cadence in his head of how the dialogue should be delivered) and striking out with a trio of three totally off brand, weird ass movies finding independent and crowd sourced funding for all three and then after getting mostly grief, even for the two I actually really liked… going back to the well of making stupid pop culture obsessed and backwards looking fan blowies of movies.

    And for a middle aged stoner, the dude is still motivated as fuck. He still has like 10 podcasts and hosts twice that from his possession on his site, daily blogs, books, writing for comics, tours constantly.
    Love him or hate him (and as self effacing as he can be he can also often suck his own dick harder than Tarantino- which CAN get tedious)… the dude ain’t lazy… he’s just (and sadly for me) resigned himself to what his fans want from his movies.

  50. I don’t know if Smith’s fans who shit on his different types of movies, its’s regular audiences who might not normally watch a Smith movie but are drawn to these other things and then are a little surprised by the slapdash quality of them.

    Majestyk, you’re mistaking a director’s style for just making movies about his smaller and smaller universe of characters. Let us know when Wes Anderson is making his fifth sequel to Rushmore.

    I think Pacman pegged Smith right…he came in at the RIGHT time. Where the reference was everything, quality didn’t matter but he referenced STAR WARS and it gave nerds the FEELS so that was enough. It’s not really enough now.

  51. And you let me know when Anderson makes a film as different from his regular brand as RED STATE or TUSK.

  52. I’d say Bottle Rocket isn’t like Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    Making a film different is nice, but making a film different that actually works is nicer.

  53. I’m not trying to make it a competition. I’m just saying that Smith gets shit for not branching out when other directors are far guiltier of that than him.

  54. Varying opinions of his Mike Meyers movies aside, I do think it is interesting that David Gordon Green has ended up with a more Altman-like career than Paul Thomas Anderson.

  55. Majestyk, have you never seen criticism of Anderson doing the same basic thing? It’s not like that’s not said about him either.

  56. Also, you know what movie I like, THE WENDELL BAKER STORY. Great movie featuring both Undercover Brother AND Seymour Moskowitz, and they all get funny things to do. I wish they’d solve everybody’s problems and get Luke Wilson write and direct a bunch of DTV sequels to RUSHMORE, Bill Murray would be too busy being a pissant somewhere so Max Fischer could team up with that awesome Wilson from all the Drew Barrymore movies instead, he would be like, the industrialist’s assistant you didn’t see in RUSHMORE 1 and it’d be like the BEETLEJUICE cartoon where instead of antagonistic the characters are nice to each others, like they go on educational adventures with the teacher lady. Also they can recast Max Fischer with DJ Qualls or whoever, I don’t give a shit.

    It would be good, instead of all these Jason Schwartzman indie movies and grossly-overtextured and boring go-motion Wes Animus movies that he keeps “directing”. Leave the cartoons to the cartoonists please, this means you too Mr. Zombie, who has even less of an excuse because he is actually an amazingly talented cartoonist and animator. Crappy DTV Royal Tenenbaums movies in the style of terrible D.C. direct to video cartoons would be acceptable though, like if they looked awful like the MEN IN BLACK cartoon.

  57. Yeah ALF, Gordon Green has made himself a pretty interesting career! You really don’t know what he might tackle next. Few directors like that out there…Soderburgh for sure. Spielberg is still giving it a go but less sucessfully than back in the day. Scorsese will still make a religious drama. Ang Lee.

    There are directors I like a lot who still make variations of the same type of movie…Tarantino and Lynch, even though the sort of genres they tackle seem different…but in the end doesn;t matter what the subject matter is, the movie will still be a collection of their usual quirks.

    Actually Takashi Miike may have the most insanely diverse career ever. From children’s movies, to stuff so strong they get prohibited from being shown on cable for a horror show that said to do whatever he wanted (Masters of Horror which was INSANE).

  58. Also that joke didn’t work because I thought animus meant like you think you are an animal, like you have an animus, you RPG your favorite animal, like you think you are some kind of dandy suit-wearing happy smiley fox with nice fur and a twinkle in his eye, LOL! Pretend I just said “Wes Animals” instead, that would have been funnier.

    Animals are nice and funny and amazing and much better than some dandy cartoon puppet that likes to dance around to Beach Boy songs and shit without any of that interesting Roald Dahl, no thanks. At least WILLY WONKA AND THE INACCURATE CHOCOLATE FACTORY has Gene Wilder and some cool songs and shit. I’d rather watch fuckin’ Jay and Silent Bob than that “they could have made twenty amazing animated shorts by real animators” vanity-project anthromorphic bullshit. JAY N SILENT BOB STRIKES BACK has precisely two good jokes, what the fuck is the internet and Affleck you was the bomb in phantoms yo. FANTASTIC MR. FOX stinks, it is snoogans or boochies whatever those guys say when they say something is bad.

    ISLE OF DOGS is better and at least kinda weirdly quiet but man, I sure do not like that Fantastic Mr. Fox. I really wanted to think it was good, too. It’s like the anti-THE WITCHES.

  59. Muh – I dunno if you remember Vern’s “Ang Lee Checklist” from THE HULK VS LIGHTNING (aka the best Marvel movie, not that I watch Marvel movies) but I always particularly laughed at “Live Action Yogi Bear”, particularly when they actually made that dumb shit.

    You know what would have been good, if they really did make that in live-action with Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake still playing Yogi and Boo-Boo, like they would have had disgusting CAT IN THE HAT makeup on, it would have been the weirdest fucking shit, now that would be a good animal movie starring some early Saturday Night Live guy. Also does Yogi Bear ride a motorcycle, drink vodka and talk about aliens in that one, if so I will give it a watch.

    Also if any of you ever meet me in person I will do my impression for you of Owen Wilson saying “Hi, I’m Marmaduke, the teenage dog!” in a really friendly voice, followed with wherever my improvisatory comedy stylings take me on that particular day.

  60. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 11:17 am

    I’ll say I can’t AT ALL disagree with either Muh or Mr M in their comments immediately following my last one.

    Though I don’t fully agree with either either, there’s enough there in both to ponder.

    I do think Anderson’s only steps out of the box were purely aesthetic (Fox and Where The Wild Things Are…) ones and Smith stepped sooooo far further out.

    Anderson has made the same movie like 10 times.
    And when it works, it does work better than Smith’s best- he’s a better writer, pulls even better casts and is clearly more technically proficient … but it’s gotten even more tedious and obvious. Smith deserves all the credit for at least trying to branch out so far further (despite the mixed results in the end).

    That said like 3 years ago I booked Seu George at the club I used to work for, doing all of his acoustic covers of Bowie songs in Portuguese, and even wearing his Zissou wardrobe. And even though I have no desire to ever watch that movie again… it was one of the most magical musical nights of my life and a giant feather in my booking cap.

    Though I might feel the same if I booked a night of Smith soundtrack heavy hitters with Squirtgun, Weezer, Soul Asylum, Seaweed, The Goops, Archers Of Loaf, RUN DMC etc…

  61. Neal, sorry for your loss.

    I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I want to tread carefully when reading motives/emotions into someone’s work, but it’s easy to see the parallels of Snyder working though the grief over the loss of his daughter, in his own way. Some of the emotional scenes highlighted in Vern’s review obviously play into that.

    I think Snyder would feel the messy details around the ten minutes or so of Bautista and his daughter are irrelevant, just the noise keeping us busy like what the characters bury themselves in. Why is there so much Excalibur stuff? It’s comfort food. Aliens? It’s an obsession and plasters over the lack of things like “narrative.” The casino owner’s plan wouldn’t matter emotionally so he doesn’t bother thinking through it.

    Something like the time loop seems weirdly optimistic with this reading, almost a coping mechanism to say maybe the dad could get it right next time.

    It’s been discussed and debated to exhaustion whether Snyder thinks deeply about things like theme and what artistic choices communicate (versus what a character says in a script). I think this fits well in line with his larger career, where you can highlight an idea that gets padded out with spectacle, and they don’t usually reconcile. I would like an action-comedy zombie movie. I would like an examination of the strained relationship and awareness when you can’t make amends in time. I think Snyder tries to do both, but only services one well, and it’s the story with maybe ten minutes of screen time.

  62. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE was Spike Jonze, not Anderson, and while it borders on self-parody in places (there are, what, 5 montages set to mopey indie songs?) for my money it was for more sincere and charming than anything Anderson has made.

  63. Also, I would like to say that I feel bad for being off-topic in this thread but also literally cannot believe how thoughtful, genuine, articulate, funny and nice everyone is being in this Zack Snyder thread on the internet with lots of side talk about Kevin Smith and West Anderson (as this lady customer at a video store who had only seen one of his movies distractedly called him once in a moment I still laugh about), this website is one of the only places that I like. Good job at everyone, I am always telling Vern or this one or that one how good they are and awesome at writing, but overall to everyone I would like to say that I really like reading all your posts.

    Also THE ROOKIES was too jokey for my jokey ass the time I tried to watch it while not not in that sorta mood, but I will let you know next time I want to watch Milla and real life cartoons and get back to you all in that thread then.

    Please no smiley foxes though. One time I saw some hilarious “coworker flicking through their iPhone photos after explaining something to you enthusiastically” photos of Fantastic Mr. Fox Halloween costumes, it was so gross, actually on second thought that kinda made me like that dumbass movie.

    In conclusion slow motion is popular with everyone and something we can all agree is awesome because why not show off a little and be you, whether it is zombies and Superman or like somebody in fussy clothes with the indie rock playing or whatever. Thank you, the movies, for slow-motion.

    And thank you Outlawvern.com for being a thoughtful and good place.

  64. Thank you all so much for the condolences – between Mom’s deteriorating health and the pandemic, I’ve managed to fall out of love with almost everything in the past year, including talking about movies, which is something I literally never thought I would say. Hopefully I can ease back into my old blabbermouth self eventually.

    Interesting to see Snyder sorta compared to other “auteur” directors – I’m gonna suggest that (get ready with the tomatoes) Snyder might be our generation’s heir to Kubrick or Welles. Not in the traditional sense, but in the sense that he might be the only director who seems pretty divisive and dismissed by some, but seen by his rabid fanbase as a “misunderstood genius who’s ahead of his time”. I’m kinda talking out of my ass since I actually suspect Welles and Kubrick were well-liked at the time, but we also always hear about how Citizen Kane didn’t win at the Oscars, and how Kubrick was nominated for a Razzie for The Shining, etc… The point is, critics/audiences may not have appreciated what they were doing at the time but now they’re beloved, etc… and honestly I can’t think of another director right now with a similar reputation.

    Obviously it happens all the time with albums where you hear people say “Isn’t that crazy nobody liked Pinkerton or Paul’s Boutique or [insert classic rock album here] when it first came out???” And it obviously happens all the time with actors, like how America collectively loved to make fun of Keanu Reeves until we remembered Keanu Reeves is awesome. But do directors even have that trajectory of “disrespected punching bag to possible genius” anymore? I feel it usually goes the other way around now – directors seem to either start off beloved and mostly stay that way(Raimi, Tarantino, Nolan, Coens), or start off beloved then become a punching bag, sometimes with the occasional comeback (Zemeckis, Shyamalan, Burton, Peter Jackson), or they just kinda start off disliked and continue to never get respect. (Boll, Paul W.S. Anderson, Wiseman, Megaton). Directors like Lynch and Malick and Charlie Kaufman are also pretty divisive but I feel they’ve always been respected. Their movies are usually waved off as “not really for me” instead of “man this guy’s a dumbass, huh?”. Snyder is the only director I can think of where his fanbase seems to rabidly love his movies off the bat, his detractors hate them, and then some of those detractors tend to like his movies more several years after they came out. (I actively didn’t like most of his movies upon first viewing and I kinda love them all now, and I know at least 5 people who feel that way about Batman v Superman in particular, which I wish more movies were like now, even though I may have thought it was the worst superhero movie ever made when leaving the theater)

    I guess Kevin Smith may fall into this category but I feel most people, even his fanbase, defend his movies with a “I didn’t think Tusk was that bad!” as opposed to “Tusk is a misunderstood masterpiece”. Also – yes, I know there’s a contingent of people who think Michael Bay is some kind of secret genius, but I just can’t see it and I’ve never heard anyone give a coherent explanation why.

  65. I think because our initial thoughts are captured for all time on the internet, we (as a culture) have been hesitant to change track on things for the positive, saying we overrated something is OK because it implies growth and increasing discernment, but saying we weren’t ready or adept enough to recognise the true worth of something is braver, and therefore harder. I struggle to think of even an individual movie that was truly written off in recent times that has since been reclaimed, SPEED RACER is the most recent film that comes to mind, and even that had its prominent champions at the time (and detractors now).

  66. Ooh, I like this topic. I think P.W.S. Anderson actually is an interesting case of a guy who was hugely hated by “the fans” for at least a decade, but after years of doing his thing has come to be somewhat accepted and even begrudgingly admired (plus hyperbolically worshiped by a small set of “vulgar auteur” people). But maybe I’m projecting my own feelings about him onto a larger group that don’t really pay much attention to him.

    Also, where do you think Guy Ritchie fits into this? I think he went from hip and respected to guy making ridiculous mainstream movies to guy who some of us kind of love for his ridiculous mainstream movies.

  67. So, I’ve got one answer for you: I didn’t know Tig Notaro was added after the fact until a few days after I saw the movie. I couldn’t tell at all; she fit right in from my perspective. Of course, I wasn’t looking for evidence of the switch, either. I’m sure I could pull apart the seams if I went back to pick at ’em.

    For me, the biggest sin of the film was how well they set up for Scott to actually live, then just seemed like they changed their minds — the blue glowing magic goo we see first on the baby, then a few other places, builds a link from the Alphas to “Zeus” and provides some explanation for how the zombie plague spreads. Scott gets bit, but then kills the leader, and we see the blue glow fade. I thought for sure that meant he was not going to turn, because the mothership (so to speak) had been destroyed. Perplexed the hell out of me until the final scene when I saw the way they were setting up a sequel, or series, or whatever they’re doing (that I probably won’t ever watch).

    It would’ve been such a good ending, he lies there waiting to turn, but just doesn’t… and you could even do the trope where she thinks she has to kill him but either can’t do it, or misses. I was like, hell yes this is great. And then… nope. Just the final of several wimpy fakeouts.

    And it was pretty inexcusable that we don’t see what happened to Kate’s friend. That’s prime nihilism right there. After that, the only surprising thing was they let Kate live. I was expecting an end credits scene where we see her stumbling through the desert with radiation poisoning. But instead they add in a CGI rescue helicopter that is somehow just… there for no reason? Anyway, that all makes it sound like I hated the movie. I really liked it. The way Garret Dillahunt’s character got killed was legitimately unsettling, but also satisfying and that is not an easy trick to pull off.

    6/10 — Would’ve been 5/10 except it was fun laughing with folks on Twitter afterward about the dead pixels.

  68. KingNews speaks what I think is the general truth, as I said above…people not knowing Tig wasn’t in the flick would not know. Maybe some SMLL percentage may, but all the people saying how obvious it is, is just being internetty. “OH IT’S SO OBVIOUS!” Man I knew and I was looking at the stuff she shared with the other characters and was like shit they really integrated her amazingly well. I bet that soft focus helped a TON.

    Also agree that not even showing the outcme of Kate’s friend is either just lazy or just lame. Give me a break. I liked the movie oookkkaaaay but shit like that sucked.

    neal2zod, Kubrick or Welles being like Snyder at all is pretty inocorrect. Yeah maybe the Razzies gave The Shining a nom but they’re fucking assholes who like to be cute and they suck as hard as anything. Kubrick was considered…at the time, and before…a major artist. Welles is a harder one…a lot of knives out for that guy to be sure, but that’s jealousy of Hollywood. The fact that the movie was nominated does say something, and Welles did win an Oscar (With Mank) for the writing. And the movie got a SLEW of noms…but to say he wasn’t respected because he lost is like saying The Coen Brothers, David Fincher and Christopher Nolan weren’t respect in 2010 because they lost to The King’s Speech. A piece of pap usually wins an Oscar, I’m more shocked when a deserving movie wins. Not that Green wasn’t a worthy movie. Man there were a lot of serious heavy hitters up that year which, it’s crazy.

  69. Oh and NEWBS! I noticed the dead pixels too! I was like THEY ARE SHOOTING A FUCKING 90 MILLION DOLLAR MAJOR FILM WITH MOVIE STARS AND THEIR CAMERA HAS DEAD PIXELS.

    I figured I’d see the pixels in one scene and that would be that…someone would notice and they’d switch the camera. But no you see those pixels through the whole movie.

  70. Maybe I was too busy staring at the pixels to notice badly composited Tig Notaro, I don’t know for sure.

  71. I didn’t name the character in the review because I agree, already knowing makes it much more obvious. And regular movies that did not replace a character in post-production constantly have scenes where the actors were actually shot separately – this sort of illusion is common. But it is a fact that I can’t watch some of those back and forth conversations and believe that one character is responding to the other character. I can’t come up with a better comparison than what I said in the review – it plays like a Space Ghost interview. But I’m glad if I’m the only one because she’s funny and it would’ve been cool if she really got to do scenes with Bautista.

  72. Oh, to clarify, I was not talking about the compositing, but the scenes where she’s talking to the other characters but not appearing in the same shots with them (most of her scenes early on).

  73. Yeah I thought those were fine…the clip I saw before I knew about the switch was where they bring her on. Yeah they don’t share the screen but at the same time they’re separated by a fence so looks like that’s how it was shot. I guess it’s as natural as that weird-ass dialogue will allow (which is half the problem). A lot of the scenes of characters talking to each other is a little weird I thought.

  74. “Also, where do you think Guy Ritchie fits into this?”

    When it comes to Ritchie I’ve had more mixed feelings than a man watching his cheating girlfriend go off a cliff in his brand new Porsche.

    I first dismissed his early movies as Tarantino-lite, but revisiting LOCK, STOCK & 2 SMOKING BARRELS and SNATCH many times over the years has helped me appreciate them as Ritchie’s own take on humanizing thieving, murdering assholes. And no offense to Americans, but when it comes to the merging of crass profanity with acerbic wit, the Brits frequently operate on a different plateau.

    I enjoyed ROCK’N’ROLLA a little less, but still liked it for it’s great cast and breezy pace. I maintain REVOLVER is a misunderstood masterpiece, not helped by a butchered US version that made no freaking sense! It remains The Stath’s finest performance and Ritchie’s boldest film (just watch it in the original version, for God’s sake!)

    Barring ALADDIN, which I hated with a passion (mainly because I consider Disney’s decision to live action remake their beloved animated classics to be second only to allowing Rian Johnson anyway near the STAR WARS franchise in terms of taking a giant steaming dump on any fans fondest memories of the original), I have enjoyed every one of Ritchie’s mainstream outputs. The SHERLOCK HOLMES movies are still popcorn-munching fun while MAN FROM UNCLE and KING ARTHUR remain criminally underrated. THE GENTLEMAN was a welcome return to his earlier Gangster Thrillers and THE WRATH OF MAN which I’ve seen twice is a splendid merger of Ritchie’s chronology-juggling twisty plotting and a straight up Jason Statham actioner.

    So, Ritchie is A-Ok in my book. I’m confident he’s gonna entertain the ever living fuck outta me whether he goes back to his low budget roots or gets handed 200 million for a summer tentpole.

    P.S. Note I haven’t mentioned the one he did with his Ex. I haven’t seen it. Am convinced no good ever came of a man casting his missus to get in her good books and stay in her pants.

  75. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    PacMan. Doh- you’re right. I might have had a stroke thinking …WTWTA was Anderson and not Jonze.
    Doesn’t change my feelings on Anderson’s movies made calculatedly for disaffected (and naive) teenagers that “just love quirky cinema” but don’t have enough insight to realize they’ve been sold the same #4 concession stand combo over and over again.

    KayKay-

    I’ll give you one example where it worked… same missus, different mister…
    Dick Tracy
    Madonna’s best movie, best acting, best casting IN the role and the soundtrack is far and away her best album.

    Also, while I’m not a big fan of Ritchie’s Aladdin… the new Jasmine song “Speechless” and it’s staging- and the massive production (with as much or more real people and staging and dancing as CGI) are enough reason for me to give an otherwise underwhelming adaptation a pass.

  76. You guys had a different reaction than me on this one. I thought the film misued Bautista, saddling him with the least fun character and getting too repetitive with the emotional angst it subjected him to. He basically has the same “why did we communicate badly for years” thing with two separate characters and it grinds the fun to a halt. I wish they had gone in more of a Cameron Poe direction and given us a few gestures of pathos but also allowed his high level charisma room to come out and play. Not saying it had to be Drax or anything. Bautista is certainly a great dramatic actor but the movie just lost steam for me when it wasn’t being a silly action flick.

  77. I can see not liking Anderson’s movies, but thinking they are being made in a totally calculated way to appeal to teenagers has got to be the strangest read ever. Those are like the LAST types of movies I could imagine being made for teens, and definitely not off the cuff for simple appeal…they are way too intricately made. If it was just throwing out some junk for people to sit and stare at, I’m sure he could make a slasher or a Scott Adkins movie way easier. They are clearly the result of an artist making a specific work. I mean you may as well accuse the other Anderson of making a period movie about a fashion guy for the mall crowd.

  78. All I know is I liked RUSHMORE a lot when I was 14 and haven’t been able to get completely on board with anything I’ve seen from him since. I don’t know if I’ve changed and he hasn’t, or he’s changed and I haven’t, but it’s very clear to me that it is his fault and not mine.

  79. As someone who’s actually seen Ritchie’s SWEPT AWAY, I’m here to tell everyone that it’s – much like the case with GIGLI – the fans of the pop star in the lead that claims it’s a bad movie. It isn’t. It’s not as good as the original, but, well, Ritchie’s no Lina Wertmüller.

  80. I haven’t seen SWEPT AWAY, but I think GIGLI is genuinely pretty bad; yes there was definitely a strong element of fall of Benifer schadenfreude in the way the press grabbed and ran with the “Worst movie of all time” spiel, but I do think the initial poor reviews were deserved (of note that Ebert was something of a defender, giving it a reasonably supportive 2.5/4 review).

    In the UK Ritchie, at least in regard to his traditional films, has a reputation akin to Nolan; a lot of people thinks his masterworks are among the best films of all time, others can’t stand him. I think most people ignored SWEPT AWAY, forgave REVOLVER and don’t necessarily associate his big budget hire job\franchise films with him strongly, but as best I can tell the view of his “traditional” films has stayed much the same.

  81. grimgrinningchris

    June 4th, 2021 at 4:55 am

    I should have described better.

    I obviously don’t mean the average teenage movie goer that fills the seats of Transformers movies and travel in loud, rowdy packs to PG-13 jump scare movies.

    I mean more Evan Peters’ brief intern character on The Office. “Yeah, I consider myself a cinephile. My favorite films are Citizen Cane and The Boondocks Saints” (not that I am comparing Anderson to Troy Duffy- at all)
    A sort of naive, young pretension (that I should have also included college aged hipsters in as well) like those that at that age get precious about indie rock bands and look down their noses at other genres from pop to hip hop to metal or whatever- not realizing that it’s all just entertainment in different wrappers (and rappers) and they’re being sold a formula no less calculated to push their particular buttons than a Die Hard movie or an 80s glam rock band.
    Shrug.
    And to be fair, I really do like both Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. And I like Owen Wilson and Hackman in TRT (but want to brain almost everyone else). It felt fresh then. But it’s gotten very tired to me.

    And I feel the same about most of Jonze’s movies.
    I love what that guy did with skate and BMX photography and filming in his early days, he’s probably my favorite music video director ever and I’ll probably never be tired of him pranking people as a saggy boobed octagenarian… but most of his actual movies give me the ol “oh, it’s more of THIS… nah”

    I dunno. Yesterday I had too much whiskey and this morning I’ve already had too much coffee. Ha.

  82. I recently watched Ritchie’s THE GENTLEMEN, a movie whose existence I totally forgot (But I guess it might have been caught up in the early Covid days of maybe open, maybe closed movie theatres). When it started and shaped up to be a typical Ritchie flick, my first reaction was: “Oh come on, that again?”, but I have to say this: That motherfucker knows how to come up with extremely overcomplicated, yet entertaining stories, tell them in a perfect flow, finish them on an equally perfect note and effortlessly switches between “funny, dark humored violence” and “really painful and completely unfunny violence” like no other.

  83. Pacman – Excellent thoughts on why as a society we love to say things are overrated yet rarely give something credit for being underrated. And yes, Speed Racer was the first movie that came to my mind too that people seem eager to say was underrated. (I’ve still been meaning to give it a second watch!)

    Muh – Yeah I knew Welles or Kubrick was a pretty sloppy comparison but I just couldn’t figure out a better one at the time, since like I said, things that tend to get a better reputation over time seem to apply more to music or actors, not directors. After some stewing, maybe John Carpenter might be the closest director I can think of with that trajectory? Obviously there was no internet back then so I have no idea what the “fans” thought, but The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China were big studio flops critically and commercially (even though they played so much on TV growing up I would have sworn they were huge hits). They Live was sorta the punchline of “the movie with the fight scene that goes on way too long” before people reconsidered and appreciated it as the Proto-Matrix that it is. These days people really seem to champion even minor Carpenter flops like In The Mouth of Madness and Prince of Darkness too. Crazy I can’t think of a more recent director than Carpenter but that’s all I’ve got.

    Re: Bautista dying, I guess the reason it didn’t feel nihilistic or like an emotional ripoff to me is that Snyder’s already killed his main characters (and the whole team with the exception of a side character) in 300 and Sucker Punch. He killed his main character in BvS and (I guess) Watchmen. Even the feel good ending of ZS’s Justice League ends on a note where they know they’ve averted disaster by creating another one down the road. (And his proposed movie to resolve that disaster ends in the death of his other main character!) So yeah, I can see why some think Snyder films feel like nihilism or bleakness for bleakness sake. Especially when Army of the Dead sells itself as Aliens, plays more like the wacky Alien Resurrection, then ends like Alien 3. I guess I’m just used to Snyder’s certain vibe and outlook on death. Leonidas may have gotten speared a thousand times, but for Snyder, the real tragedy would have been if he bowed to Xerxes, amirite? Rorschach is a big stain in the snow now, but hey, at least he didn’t go along with this world-saving scheme he morally disagreed with. Babydoll is lobotomized but at least she’s not being imprisoned by the man anymore. And yeah, Bautista and all his friends are dead and his buddy is about to start a plague that will inevitably destroy the planet, but at least he got to make up with his daughter! It’s yet another variation on the same Snyder bummer/not bummer ending we’ve been seeing all these years, and I wouldn’t really want it any other way to be honest.

  84. grimgrinningchris

    June 4th, 2021 at 10:09 am

    Zod.

    My lady and I were talking about this this morning.
    Since Vanderdude was apparently bitten by “patient zero” then when he turns, he’s gonna be an Alpha.
    But Alphas don’t turn others into Alphas. Only the OG cape zombie could do that… hence all the pomp and circumstance of bringing living, un-injured, healthy humans to him to be turned.
    Even Alphas just turn their prey into regular slow, dumb zombies.
    So dude is just going to turn the the flight attendants and pilots into mindless “shamblers” which means the plane is gonna crash and prolly wipe them all out… which would effectively end any continued infection or turning… Snyder may have meant the inevitability of him turning to leave things open ended… but by the logic of his own movie, that plane crashing should crush any potential additional spread. Unless someone on the plane survives a fiery crash and explosion with no brain trauma.

  85. And if he ever really does THE FOUNTAINHEAD, “Sure, he blew up a low income housing unit, but at least his amazing aesthetics weren’t slightly compromised.”

  86. Good lord is he really trying for an adaption of that book? Even if he was an idea guy and not purely a visual director (who I appreciate) that will never happen. I’m sorry I’ve been out of the loop. I’d rather him adapt Notes From The Underground or something. As soon as he actually found out about that book. Sorry to muck up your comments Vern.

  87. Vern – Man i really need to finally see The Fountainhead (and finally read your review) since you’re totally making it sound like the Rosetta Stone for Zack Snyder’s entire body of work.

    Chris – ha i never thought about that! I knew as soon as Vanderhoe got sealed in the vault, I knew the ending would be a zombie-fied him escaping from the vault (to mirror the opening, where the O.G. Alpha escapes from HIS vault). And yes, this is before I heard Vanderhoe had an Omega tattoo/brand which would have made it more obvious.

    Btw – not to derail this thread even further, but we recently finished the entire Planet of the Apes series which if you take as a whole, also involves multiple time loops where outcomes stay the same but details change slightly, and there’s at least two literal sets of Alpha and Omegas. (And wasn’t the original abandoned script for Battle for the Planet of the Apes kinda similar to this as well with people crashing into an abandoned city where Caesar was king and ruled over a skyscraper, etc??) At the end of the day, I like that Synder seems like a big kid who somehow keeps convincing big studios to let him explore his influences and obsessions by nakedly smashing them together into a giant, messy, entertaining ball, and then letting people on the internet sort it out afterwards.

  88. That’s why it’s so funny that the people I have decided to call ZAnon make him out to be such a victim. The main reason he’s interesting is that for more than a decade the studio bosses thought he was a nerd whisperer and let him do WATCHMEN, SUCKER PUNCH and photorealistic armor wearing owl war movie (!!!). The only time he got screwed it resulted in him eventually getting even more freedom to release fucking four hour 4:3 (sometimes black and white) JUSTICE-LEAGUE-what-the-fuck-fest. Not to mention that WATCHMEN, SUCKER PUNCH and BATMAN V SUPERMAN each got to have one or more super-indulgent extended cuts of their own. I can’t think of another director in modern times that has had anything near that type of blank check, and I’m sure he’s aware of that himself.

  89. As I wrote on Ars glowing review:

    ——-
    While watching it all I could think was “boring”. On reflection it was awful.

    Less than a quarter of its bloated runtime was zombie action.
    Humorless unless you count failed humor from Dieter.
    Awful “master zombie” with “societal” rules.
    Snooze fest “get the band together” middle followed by baffling execution.

    You don’t even have to talk about the ridiculousness of the team assembled, neither composition nor size, the lack of gear to deal with the quantity of cash involved.

    Lastly the conceit of moving up a nuclear strike at a location known to have civilians and aid workers.

    I love Synder’s execution of James Gunn’s Dawn of the Dead. A much shorter movie with better action, more realized characters and actual levity to break through its escalating tension.
    ——-

    As for budget, Dawn was 26-28, Army 70-90.

    As I tweeted, go watch Dance of the Dead.

  90. In terms of big blockbuster movies, not just little art ones that can be done for five million…WB seems to be pretty good letting certain directors do a lot of stuff. Kubrick, Nolan, etc.

  91. “Not to mention that WATCHMEN, SUCKER PUNCH and BATMAN V SUPERMAN each got to have one or more super-indulgent extended cuts of their own. I can’t think of another director in modern times that has had anything near that type of blank check, and I’m sure he’s aware of that himself.”

    Vern, I’m purely responding to this comment of yours.

    Oliver Stone got to release THREE cuts of Alexander. Ditto Michael Mann for The Last Of The Mohicans. There are 4 or 5 different Blade Runner cuts out there, and I think Ridley Scott oversaw at least 3 of them. He also got to release extended cuts of GLADIATOR & KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. And Coppola got to do 4 versions of APOCALYPSE NOW not to mention re-tool GODFATHER III recently.

    Before I get raked over the coals with comments that Snyder isn’t fit to kiss the dust off the feet of the above mentioned film-makers, want to clarify that my point is, a lot of film-makers who have amassed a certain clout in the industry are accorded this indulgence.

  92. KayKay – “Modern times” was a poorly chosen phrase on my part. I did not mean since the advent of electricity. The directors you mentioned all had their hits in the ’70s, ’80s or ’90s. In this century I guess Michael Bay is another who has been given enormous budgets to make insane movies, but that was on the basis of most of them making massive amounts of money. Snyder disappointed their expectations with WATCHMEN, SUCKER PUNCH and BATMAN V SUPERMAN, but he kept going. MAN OF STEEL was also discussed as a disappointment at the time, but it did well and I don’t think they were being realistic.

    If it’s not clear, I think it’s good that he’s been able to do that shit, there should be a whole bunch more directors given that kind of backing. But it’s rare these days, so I just think it’s funny for someone who lucked out like that to be portrayed as totally screwed over by The Man.

  93. grimgrinningchris

    June 5th, 2021 at 10:03 am

    This is his first movie that I thought was visually stunted. I don’t know if that’s just budget, cgi actor replacement or being more focused on TSC at the same time, or what.
    Dude is generally great at visuals and most of them were pure ass this time around, great at casting and outside of Bautista, Notaro (even as a zero hour replacement), the German guy (who I loved) and the zombie king and queen, the entire rest of the cast was a total fucking flatline- even Dillahunt, who is a damn fine actor, really had sick all to do and didn’t find a way to elevate the dick he had to work with.

    What was up with the absolutely useless former flame character? Did she ever do anything? Ever even kill a zombie? She just took up space on the screen until a dumb act3 reveal that was supposed to give her death me sort of weight. Nope.
    What was up with the buddy of Guzman and Chambers that walked before the mission started? I thought there’d be some payoff to that. Nope. Just some dude that took up space to say three lines and then peace out. Lame.
    Again, I enjoyed the movie, despite its faults it as someone who really never wants to watch MOS or BvS again (save for the third act and WW) this movie just seems too half naked on every level to have been in development as long as it was.

  94. It’s crazy to me that Zack Snyder, whose movies I never like but always thought were visually beautiful, finally acts as his own cinematographer and then puts out a movie that kinda looks like shit. During the opening scene I actually stopped the movie and started up Netflix on a different device because I thought there must be something wrong with it, or my internet connection. While I do think Netflix compressed the hell out of the movie, evidenced by major banding in the sky in that opening scene, I think a lot of the problems stem from deliberate choices by Snyder. From reading about it, the opening took weeks to shoot because Snyder wanted to specifically shoot in natural light at dusk, but then the finished product looks like some dim day-for-night stuff. The old 60s lenses he bought on ebay and retrofitted to the digital cameras make everything soft and muddled, and it was difficult to see what the hell was going on in a few sequences. I read another article about what sounded like an immense and intricate undertaking to retroactively insert Tig Notaro into the movie, but while watching it, it must’ve been easy, because the whole movie looked like a rear projection background, and a number of dialogue scenes were shot like an episode of a CW show, rarely seeing all parties onscreen at once.

    Storytelling-wise, the few scenes where characters discuss their emotions did not feel earned or believable enough to me, especially when Ana de la Reguera’s character confesses her feelings at the last second. I think my favorite relationship was between Dieter and Vanderohe. And I did have to rewind and watch the climax again to try to figure out what the hell happened to Geeta. They only risked everything to save her– her rescue is like the emotional and plot crux of the film– and then she just disappears. What a blunder.

    The French coyote lady was cool. I got big Mackenzie-Davis-in-Terminator vibes.

  95. Random note that I thought I had mentioned but apparently didn’t: Matthias Schweighöfer is a HUGE star over here. But also for some reason everybody seems to hate him and nobody admits to watching his movies, despite them always raking in a shit ton of money (Which I guess is the main reason why Netflix cast him.) Honestly, I don’t have any beef with him, but “A Schweighöfer movie” is pretty much synonymous with “An awful piece of shit movie that only Germany could produce” among the average German movie goer. Germany hates their stars. And their movies.

  96. “Germany hates their stars”

    CJ, does that hold true for Dianne Kruger, Til Schweiger, August Diehl and Daniel Bruhl too?

    Cause all of them do sterling work in any Hollywood film they get roped into.

    And just out of curiosity, do Germans claim Arnie and Christophe Waltz as their own or is that geographical boundary between Germany and Austria strictly enforced?

    FYI, a lot Malaysians like to claim Michelle Yeoh as one of ours. She’s born here, but has spent the bulk of her professional and personal life in HK. We also like to claim James Wan as one of ours because he was born in the Eastern Malaysian state of Sarawak, in spite of his family having migrated to Perth when he was 7 and he most likely identifies as Australian.

  97. grimgrinningchris- Backtracking a bit here, but interesting to hear your Seu Jorge recollections, because I somehow ended up seeing Jorge at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017, and being in a crowd who were clearly enthralled by everything and were excited by the brief display of LIFE AQUATIC footage at the end made me realise I’ll just never be a part of the Anderson crowd. Not that it was bad by any means, but it didn’t move me or make me feel anything really. Just interesting to hear how different people’s experiences can be.

    An interesting note with Anderson is that critics were beginning to turn against him a bit with ACQUATIC and DARJEELING LIMITED, but have mostly been fully on board ever since, despite (even with two animated films) little change to his approach or subject matter.

  98. KayKay: Schweiger is pretty much considered a joke here (despite, just like Schweighöfer, also being one of our biggest cash magnets). In all fairness, it has a bit to do with overexposure. The bigger you are, the more Germans hate you. In that regard, Krüger, Diehl and Brühl were smart enough/had the luck to be cast mostly in arthouse movies that nobody cared about and/or get the fuck out of here. (In fact, I can’t remember the last time when I saw Krüger in a German production.) Although now that I think of it, I do remember some anti-Brühl sentiments pre-RUSH.

    But in general, talking to Germans about German movies and the actors in them is extremely difficult, because 98% of the time it boils down to “German movies bad”. Which is pretty unfair, to be honest.

    Also we see Arnie as an Austrian, but more than once tried to claim Waltz as a German, but he doesn’t play dat shit.

  99. I know Waltz speaks several languages, but can you tell he’s Austrian when he acts in German movies and TV? The difference between Norwegian and Swedish is highly noticeable, but we do understand each other.

  100. No, his German is pretty, well…German. When he gives interviews, you can hear a mild accent from time to time, but I can see how one would see him in a movie and think he is German. Arnie however proudly flaunts his Austrian accent.

  101. How is Fassbender’s German? During promotion for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS they made a big deal of him being half German. And Gedeon Burkhard being bilingual, for that matter.

  102. Honestly, I have no idea. Never heard him speak German and also never watched BASTERDS.

  103. In interviews Fassbender sounds like an Irishman speaking German, reasonably fluent but sometimes reaching for vocabulary and with an underlying Irish accent. In BASTERDS he’s markedly better than that having learned his lines and worked on his accent. I doubt he’d fool anyone though. But hey, his German is way better than Brad Pitt’s Italian! I’d say watch it CJ; I put it way up in the Tarantinography.

  104. I second Borg9 in saying…WTF CJ!!! You need to watch the amazing INGLORIOUS BASTERDS! Chilling and funny the way only QT can be.

    I believe Pitt’s howlingly laughable Italian is Tarantino’s dig at Americans and their inability to adapt or learn foreign languages/accents. Like how Costner couldn’t even be bothered to affect an English accent for ROBIN HOOD.

  105. As the resident Tarantino hater, I politely decline and leave it at that. My dislike for that guy’s movies already took up way too much space on this websight.

  106. CJ – what kind of movies does Schweighöfer do? I assume comedies since he’s used as comic relief here, but it’d be funny if he’s actually a dramatic actor and got cast as the clown.

  107. No problem, CJ. I can respect that, and if you don’t like Tarantino, I don’t think there’s anything in BASTERDS that would make you change your mind. But it does have a lot of German-speaking actors. And Mike Myers.

  108. Borg9, Fassbender didn’t fool anybody here in Norway in THE SNOWMAN either.

  109. Maggie, Schweighöfer isn’t a comedian, but he is well know for very light and forgettable comedies, although he has a bunch of serious roles in his filmography too, including Amazon’s first German production YOU ARE WANTED.

    Borg9: Yeah, from a German perspective, the cast of BASTERDS is incredibly impressive and filled with charactor actors, C-list comedians, punk rock icons, you name it. I guess at some point he just opened the studio door and gave everybody a role who walked in.

  110. Hey-hey, Burkhard was in COBRA 11!

  111. Oh, come off it, Pegsman! You’ll be telling me next that Norwegian’s weren’t fooled by Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris.

  112. grimgrinningchris

    June 8th, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Wait, CJ…

    What punk icons are in Basterds??? Unless you count Schweiger being a punk icon for his role in SLC PUNK! (Sink, you FOOL!)

  113. Apparently Bela B., drummer and sometimes singer of DIE ÄRZTE is somewhere in that movie.

  114. grimgrinningchris

    June 8th, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    I have no clue who that is. Though I booked dozens of Euro-pink bands in the 90s, I think the only actual German band I booked (and 2 or 3 times) was WIZO. Remember them?

    Lots of Scandinavian bands from Randy to Bombshell Rocks to Refused to The Hives etc… but I think WIZO was the only German one.

  115. Well, DIE ÄRZTE are most popular in German speaking countries, but they are HUGE over here and still going strong. Sure, like every punkband they went from every moral group’s boogieman, who sings tongue in cheek songs about incest, bestiality or simply gets boycotted by radio stations for using the word “asshole” several times in a song, to a critically acclaimed band that is beloved by everybody, and of course one can argue if their music is still punk (although they even made song about that a few years ago) but they at least never sold out and still do their thing. Even if their thing isn’t as loud and edgy as it was over 30 years ago. But it’s still fun.

  116. Die Ärzte is one of the German bands I play the most. After Mr Irish Bastard and my girl Nena, of course.

  117. grimgrinningchris

    June 13th, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    I think my real main issue is that this was not the heist movie promised. The plan was get in, crack the safe, try not to get killed by zombies.
    A real heist movie has a complex plan with a huge, clever set of contingency plans. And the cleverness of those plans is what makes the movies engaging. Is watching our protagonists form the plans, set up for them and expect and push through the hiccups and shit that doesn’t go right.
    There was NONE of that in this “heist” movie. None. People have called this Oceans 11 with zombies. No. No. Nope. And another no.
    The Oceans movies are predicated not just on the charisma of their leads (which is more than ample) but on the cleverness and ingenuity of a very complex (and well illustrated) plan… and even moreso in the ingenuity and cleverness of their contingencies when shit went wrong.
    This movie is not a heist movie. It has none of that. Get in, crack the safe, get out. That is not a heist movie. It’s an Asylum attempt at a heist movie by people that have no clue why heist movies are fun.

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