After a decade of making some of Hollywood’s greatest superhero films, director Zack Snyder has returned to the monsters that made a name for themselves – zombies that this time have taken over Las Vegas.
In “Army of the Dead”, which will be shown in limited theaters on Friday and May 21, the desert gambling metropolis was cordoned off after it was overrun by blood-splattered, carnivorous hordes of the undead.
An armed group of mercenaries tries to infiltrate the city in an attempt to raise millions of dollars from a vault under the Strip. Just hours before an atomic bomb is dropped on the gruesome residents of Sin City.
For a director who made a name for himself in 2004 with a remake of George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” – who ridiculed rabid consumerism by letting go of zombies in a mall – it was an easy task.
“It’s a zombie movie about a gang of zombie killers who go to zombie-infested Vegas to get the money,” Snyder recalled the Netflix bosses.
“So it wasn’t like they were like, ‘Oh my gosh, let’s not do this movie. Nobody wants to see this!'”
Despite its bold, high-octane fun, the film – a tribute to genre films like “Escape from New York” and “Aliens” as well as raid films like “Ocean’s Eleven” – is a real emotional weight for Snyder.
It’s his first brand new film since he stopped directing the star-studded DC superhero epic Justice League after his daughter’s suicide in 2017.
55-year-old Snyder came up with the idea for a “Zombie Heist” movie years ago, but rewritten it to refer to the relationship between tough father Scott (Dave Bautista) and estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell) focus.
“As a person, I developed further when I made ‘Dawn’,” he said at a virtual press conference.
“And just having a relationship with my kids and being a father … that part of the movie really got a lot more important to me than maybe 15 years ago.”
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He added, “Dave’s character is trying to reconnect with his daughter … yes, it’s a zombie heist movie, but in the end it’s a character movie in many ways.”
– “Worse than Zombies” –
Of course, other profound changes have hit the world since Snyder began filming Army of the Dead in 2019, which gives the film an uncanny conscience.
The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the 24-hour lights and casino floors of Las Vegas – and Hollywood itself – as former President Donald Trump was fired from office by US voters.
In the film, refugees from Las Vegas are quarantined in cages and subjected to random temperature controls by brutal guards while partisan news channels ask, “Quarantine: Truth or Fear?”
The decision to drop an atomic bomb on Las Vegas on July 4th came from an unnamed US president who thinks the idea of fireworks on Independence Day is “really cool” and “patriotic”.
“There were a lot of crazy things that made the movie better one way or another,” Snyder said on the movie’s press releases.
“We wanted to focus on how a zombie plague affects the disenfranchised and how the government could use something like a zombie plague to lose certain freedoms,” he added.
“The interpretations are completely different now than at the beginning. But the panacea for zombie films is still the same: in the end, people are worse than zombies.”
amz / to