Known for his affinity for slow-motion action sequences, Zack Snyder may not have the most glittering recent filmography in the eyes of critics, but he’s certainly got a dedicated fan base. The famous “Release the Snyder Cut” for the Justice League only enhanced his presence in Hollywood, and now, he’s very much locked in as one of Netflix’s lead movie creators. Under the Netflix banner, he now has two film credits – both from 2021.
Seemingly running away with the post-apocalyptic heist genre bend, first came Army of the Dead, which was all Snyder’s work, followed by a prequel, Army of Thieves, which was penned and produced by the director of Dawn of the Dead and 300.
Starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, and Ana de la Reguera, the zombie flick was a big hit for the streaming giant and even made $1 million at the box office in one week.
Soon after its release, Snyder and Netflix announced that there would be a sequel to accompany Army of the Dead and its growing universe, but nothing has come to fruition just yet. Luckily, the popular Army universe is set to expand again.
A well-liked zombie flick for Netflix
You won’t be hard-pressed to find many people who see most of the Netflix Originals range as poorly written drivel, quickly manufactured to keep attention for several hours at a time. Quality productions like Marco Polo get canned, while Adam Sandler was allowed to run out a whole host of bore-inducing flicks until he hit on a gem.
Army of the Dead was at least a crowd-pleaser, with Snyder’s fandom helping to empower his distinct style. Soon after its release, Army of the Dead made it to the number one spot worldwide.
Considering the set-up of the film – needing to enter a Las Vegas crawling with the undead – it’s a bit of a surprise that it was so well appreciated. Then again, Snyder has proven his quality in the realms of horror and action. The status of the film among Netflix subscribers was only enhanced when the Oscars put out a poll to find the most popular of a select group of popular films, with Army of the Dead coming out on top.
This didn’t help its overall reception among critics and many fans, though. Army of the Dead currently sits with a distinctly mediocre 57/100 from critics as well as a 5.9/10.0 from users on Metacritic. Sometimes, you don’t need an awards-contending, boundary-pushing, or thought-provoking movie to win over the crowds, though. As Netflix has given it the green light and Snyder has been badgered a fair bit about it, it’s safe to say that the two see the movie as a success that can be built upon.
A labour of love for Snyder
Perhaps one of the main elements that shone through in Army of the Dead – especially in the face of Justice League – was how much freedom Snyder was allowed to make the movie. Apparently, he started on the first draft of the film way back in 2011, and had been buying Canon Dream lenses from eBay over the last five years to snag the soft and organic look that he envisioned.
He also got the stars into a Zombie Boot Camp to learn how to use weapons and work as a unit and spent five weeks filming at dusk to get the perfect first encounter shot. Perhaps one of his craftiest moves was to film in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in his first stint as director of photography.
The movie is, of course, set in Sin City on the other side of the continent, but LV and AC have many similarities. The casino focus is, of course, the main thing, with the subtle differences being too small to worry about for the film. For example, both cities lend a different rule set and style to online blackjack.
While Vegas Single Deck tends to be more popular, the Atlantic City Gold Series offers a welcomed variation in play. Being a zombie wasteland in Army of the Dead, blackjack didn’t really come into play, but dusty slots did. In interviews, such as with Men’s Health in 2021, Snyder seemed particularly pleased to discover the abandoned casinos in AC for his zombie hive.
Army of the Dead 2 is alive and in the works
Army of the Dead 2 will have a straight sequel, Snyder has said, with it potentially being more of a sci-fi action movie with horror elements – but still with a heist in the middle of the zombie madness. However, the sequel to his Netflix hit isn’t all that he is working into a multi-movie universe. On the way in 2023 is Rebel Moon – his take on a Star Wars-like movie. Importantly, there is already a prequel as well as an anime spin-off series, Lost Vegas, but that has been delayed due to technical reasons.
Speaking to Collider, the filmmaker said that the Army universe is “still alive and well in my mind,” following on to explain, “I know exactly what I would do.” First, through, they need to work out where Rebel Moon could be going, as it’s a big commitment and requires a lot of attention to detail. With Rebel Moon coming out on 22 December 2023, and a sequel said to be shot back-to-back, it’d be fair to assume that work on Army of the Dead 2 might not gain momentum until the end of the year.
Rebel Moon is taking precedence over an Army of the Dead sequel for now, but given his passion and years of work put into the universe, it’d be a surprise if the zombies aren’t resurrected as soon as possible.
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