Cinema Dispatch: Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix

Directed by Zack Snyder

Considering everything that the guy has gone through in the last few years, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he took several years off instead of going back to making movies.  Still, it does seem to be his passion as Zack Snyder certainly makes film with an enthusiasm and gusto you don’t often see from big budget filmmakers, an d what better way to get back into the swing of things than to go back to his roots and make another zombie flick?  I’m certainly rooting for him, but is this the triumphant return that we’ve all been waiting for, or is he still a bit rusty from working on tent pole superhero movies for so long?  Let’s find out!!

Following a botched military transport, the ZOMBIE VIRUS infects the city of Las Vegas AND NOWHERE ELSE which is convenient because it means the US government can just build a giant wall around the city and leave the zombies to their own devices while also ensuring all the survivors are free from the zombie virus.  The state of things is tenuous at best however as the survivors are kept in camps near the city run by NOT-ICE-AGENTS, and since we’re living in a Capitalists hellscape even in our fantastical zombie films, people are sneaking in and out to try and scrounge up a bit of cash from the many casinos to perhaps make their lives better.  Because of this the US government has decided to nuke the city to kill off all the zombies which means it’s the PERFECT time to pull off the biggest heist of them all as a casino owner (Hiroyuki Sanada) hires a group of mercenaries, many of whom were part of the efforts to save survivors, to go into the city and take ALL the money from his vault mere days before the nuke is launched; money that would have probably would just burn to ashes anyway so it’s practically there BEGGING to be collected!  Our heroes are the ultimate Dad Guy named Scott (Dave Bautista), his friends Maria and Vanderohe (Ana de la Reguera and Omari Hardwick), a safe cracker named Ludwig (Matthias Schweighöfer), some dude who posts zombie shooting videos on YouTube as well as one of his cohorts (Raúl Castillo and Samantha Win), a pilot to get them out of there (Tig Notaro), and a Coyote who helps people get in and out of the city (Nora Arnezeder).  On top of that, Scott’s daughter (Ella Purnell) finds a way to tag along as she is searching for someone who got lost in the city during one of those casino runs, and there’s one dude hired by the casino owner (Garret Dillahunt) to keep an eye on things and perhaps has an agenda of his own.  With this rag tag group of bad asses and scumbags, can they pull off the ultimate heist without getting bit by a zombie or getting a face full of nuclear fallout?  Is this plan as straightforward as they were led to believe, and what have the zombies themselves been up to since being locked up in the city?  Do trained mercenaries just not watch movies, or do they assume that this is the ONE plan that won’t go wrong?

“If things get spicy in there, I’m just gonna call an Uber and get the heck out of there.”     “Yeah, I think the zombie blighted wasteland is outside their service area.”     “Sheesh.  So much for being a market disruptor.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Widows

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Widows and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Steve McQueen

Is it time for another cinematic confession?  Alright, so I’ve never actually seen a Steve McQueen movie all the way through.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of Shame and I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, but based on those films and what we’ve been shown of this one I get the feeling that I’m not gonna be the biggest fan of his work.  What can I say?  I’m not the biggest fan of overly oppressive mood pieces even if the subject matter justifies that tone, but unlike other kinds of movies of filmmakers that I’m not too fond of I’m rather open to what this guy has to say here because even if I don’t like what I see on screen at least I’m fairly confident that the director is trying to ENGAGE with their audience instead of completely alienating them (*cough* Eli Roth *cough*).  Will this film be the perfect introduction to the director’s body of work, or did he already reach his peak and nothing else will quite measure up to it?  Let’s find out!!

Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is just having a TERRIBLE week!  Not only did her husband (Liam Neeson) die in a horrible fiery explosion, two million dollars went completely up in smoke which she is now being held responsible for since said two million was STOLEN by Liam Neeson and his crew of crooks (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, and Coburn Goss) from a local gangster who’s the slightest bit miffed about all this.  It’s made especially bad because said gangster Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is also running for local office against the golden boy Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and could have used all that ill-gotten gain to fund his campaign; presumably through shady 501(c) groups considering where the money came from.  Thanks, Citizens United!  Anyway, him and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) have given Veronica a week to pay him back which is PROBABLY not all that feasible, but as luck would have it her husband left her a notebook that had detailed plans for their next heist; one that could not only pay back Jamal but will give her a nice payday to keep her afloat while she figures out what to do next with her life.  She enlists the help of two of the widows, Linda and Alice (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) as well as Bell who is another person in need of some fast cash (Cynthia Erivo) to hopefully pull off this heist, though without any actual experience committing crimes, pulling guns, and breaking into places, their success seems dubious at best.  Will Veronica and her slapdash crew of desperate widows manage to pull off such a dangerous heist?  What exactly happened the night their husbands died, and could it have had anything to do with this plan that was left behind?  Is it just me, or could this easily be an Amanda Waller prequel?

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“If I can get these women to pull off this heist, imagine what I can do with super villains!”     “I don’t know, that STILL seems like a bad idea.”

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