Zack Snyder made his directorial debut with the remake of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead in 2004. He’s returning to the zombie apocalypse with a new movie on Netflix called Army of the Dead. Paul McGuire Grimes of Paul’s Trip to the Movies sits down with him and gives us his review of the movie too.
ARMY OF THE DEAD (Netflix, In theaters)
Zack Snyder made his directorial debut with his remake of Dawn of the Dead. He’s returning to the zombie apocalypse with Army of the Dead. The story kicks off convoy of army trucks that crash into a car. Their special cargo is tipped over and unleashes a zombie onto the roads of Las Vegas. Cut to the zombie apocalypse and the city is walled off trapping the zombies in the Las Vegas strip. The government is set to drop a nuclear bomb on the city, but before that happens a rogue team of fighters head back onto the strip. Dave Bautista leads the group as Scott Ward. He’s hired for a $50 million job from the owner of the casino to head back into the vault grab the remaining $200 million cash and escape via a helicopter on the roof. His team has a set time frame to pull off the heist and must fend off a hoard of zombies on their way in.
-This is a separate zombie story and isn’t meant to be a sequel to Snyder’s other zombie movie, Dawn of the Dead. I get the impression from the overall tone and vibe that Netflix gave him far more creative control than other larger studios had with his recent DC films.
-Snyder wrote, directed, produced and was his own cinematographer on the film. He creates an exciting opening sequence that previews the carnage at hand and there’s no shortage of blood involved. This is a zombie movie after all that Snyder pairs with a traditional Las Vegas heist – an Ocean’s 11 meets The Walking Dead.
-Having a decimated Las Vegas provides for a unique aesthetic as a piece of Americana with its greed and capitalism that’s now destroyed and the final humans still desperate for the remaining cash on hand. There are stressful moments where any wrong movie could awaken these hibernating zombies.
-Some people criticized Snyder’s DC films for being too serious. I think you see more of a playful side of Snyder with Army of the Dead. There are alpha male zombies going after our group of humans with many alpha males in the group some of whom turn on each other in the name of money and survival. Then there’s a zombie tiger who we learn is one of Siegfried and Roy’s tigers. At one point, you are rooting for zombie tiger to kill Garret Dillahunt’s character. This all sounds ridiculous, but this is a zombie movie first and foremost.
-Snyder brings in a little humanity with Dave Bautista’s character who wants to rebuild the relationship he has with his daughter who’s also part of his crew. Themes of fathers and their children should come as no surprise to Snyder fans and gives Bautista more to dig into than just being the tough action hero of the film. Tig Notaro is another stand out in the film. Notaro brings her known dry sense of humor to her character who is tasked with flying the helicopter away from the casino.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
DREAM HORSE (in theaters)
If you’re looking for that feel good, underdog story, check out Dream Horse. Toni Collette stars in this true story as Jan Vokes who works as a part time bartender and cashier at a local co-op in a small Welsch village. She overhears a table of race horse enthusiasts and gets inspired to purchase and raise her own race horse. It’s a lofty goal as there’s less than a 1% chance of a horse actually winning a major race. She first has to convince her fellow neighbors to chip as a syndicate in order to afford the costs that come with owning and training a race horse.
-Dream Horse is that small, but sweet, little tale hoping to give you a little inspiration and cheer in your day.
-It should come as no surprise that Toni Collette completely sells this movie as Jan. She brings a yearning and joy of wanting something more in life than her standard day in and day out of working two jobs. Sometimes you must go all in on a crazy idea to find a renewed sense of vitality in life
-I have no idea how closely this follows the real story it’s based on, but screenwriter Neil McKay takes a fairly simple approach to telling Jan’s story. It’s not overly dramatic, but you can sense some of the traditional beats that come with this type of underdog story and where the moments of conflict will land.
-I get the sense that the director knows this so he doesn’t try to be emotionally manipulative with his audience. He’d rather focus more on the perseverance of Jan and how she brought this community together in unexpected ways as they get excited for Dream Alliance’s potential.
-Dream Horse is a good family movie, and it will be great for older kids who have expressed in interest in animals. Like any good underdog story, it’s touching and will have you cheering. Make sure to watch the final credits as you’ll see the cast stand next to their real life counterparts having fun at the pub.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
DEAR EVAN HANSEN (movie trailer)
2021 is the year of stage to screen adaptations of beloved musicals. Trailers for In the Heights and West Side Story have dropped, and now, here comes Dear Evan Hansen with original Broadway star and Tony winner Ben Platt. Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) directs with a screenplay by Steven Levenson (Fosse/Verdon) Levenson also penned the musical’s book. The film boasts a strong cast with Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Danny Pino, Amandla Stenberg, and Colton Ryan. As Evan’s mom, Heidi, I cannot wait to hear Julianne Moore sing “So Big/So Small”, an Act II anthem that will no doubt leave you in tears.
The musical became a worldwide phenomenon as it tackles teen mental health issues and suicide with an honest and approachable method. The music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul is more than a bunch of catchy ear worms, as the songs became anthems for the teenagers who saw the musical and felt those same pressures Evan is going through.
Opens in theaters: September 24, 2021