A second trailer dropping for Netflix’s upcoming “original” film Army of the Dead has done nothing but to reaffirm what I asserted watching the first one – It’s time to turn my brain off.
The three minute compilation consisted of the standard “meet the gang” snippets, “here’s the plan” reveal and plenty of undead being mowed down with wacky weapon creations that would make MacGyver blush. Batista leading a rag tag group on a heist in the middle of a “zombie” infested Las Vegas strip is about as Netflix as a film can get from a plot perspective. From the glimpses we’ve been given, there doesn’t seem to be any desire to be innovative or unique. As a casual movie-goer, I can appreciate the film appearing to be a fun and action packed experience that requires little mental investment. As a low tier cinema critic, I can already anticipate the amount of eye rolls and scoffs the film will undoubtedly force me to conceive.
The zombie genre itself is a global phenomena that can be argued has overstayed its welcome, and with every release of a film attempting to capitalize on the unkillable genre only brings with it the same critique I’d administer to a lot of beloved films in the franchise – these are not zombies. I speak only from the viewpoint who considers George A. Romero’s creations and very few iterations afterwards to be classified as zombies. Even googling “zombie films” will generate results ranging from Halloween to The 5th Wave. The idea of the classic zombie that rises from the grave is long gone and in its place we are now given the highly mobile and rabid version of the “undead” that prove to be more free runner meets gymnast than the turtle paced walkers. The issue is not with the inevitable evolution and directions the genre has taken to adapt to consumer desires, but the insistence of capitalizing on the name and essence of the zombie. Army of the Dead radiates zombie vibes just through the title. This is purposely done to capture attention and safely land in the safety net the genre has created for itself. The creatures in the trailer are sentient enough to skillfully doge physical strikes and perform acrobatic maneuvers that go against the general principle of zombie limitations. Army of Darkness is more of a sci fi action film than a zombie film and that’s perfectly fine. Embrace your strengths instead of having to rely on the image of an entity you are not. It’ll only lead to consumers like myself being baited into an unexpected experience I didn’t set out for. Also, they have a zombie tiger….*siiiiigh*.
Will I watch the film? If I’m feeling desperate enough for an action fix, then sure. Will I classify this as a zombie film? No. Will I despise anyone for using the term “zombie” when speaking on this film? Bet your ass I will.