Tag Archives: Raúl Castillo

Army of the Dead (2021) Review

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Army of the Dead

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Dave Bautista as Scott Ward
Ella Purnell as Kate Ward
Omari Hardwick as Vanderohe
Ana de la Reguera as Maria Cruz
Theo Rossi as Burt Cummings
Matthias Schweighöfer as Ludwig Dieter
Nora Arnezeder as Lily
Hiroyuki Sanada as Bly Tanaka
Garret Dillahunt as Martin
Tig Notaro as Marianne Peters
Raúl Castillo as Mikey Guzman
Huma Qureshi as Geeta
Samantha Win as Chambers
Director: Zack Snyder

After a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries takes the ultimate gamble by venturing into the quarantine zone for the greatest heist ever.

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Army of the Dead was one of my most anticipated movies of 2021. I’m not a massive fan of zombie movies, I don’t mind them or dislike them, and in fact I enjoy most of them. It’s just that nothing much draws me into them. However, the fact that Zack Snyder is directing had me interested. His first feature film was a remake of Dawn of the Dead, so it was nice to see him go back to his roots. It’s also the only other movie from him other than Sucker Punch which isn’t based on a source material, be that an existing movie, a comic book/graphic novel or a book series. The prospect of a zombie movie meets heist movie, and one set in a zombie filled Las Vegas, sounded very entertaining. So, I knew at the very least it would be a good time, and having watched it I can say that it certainly was that.

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As advertised, Army of the Dead is a mix between a zombie movie and a heist movie, with a team brought together to pull off a job with the twist that they’re up against a lot of zombies. Some could say that the plot is pretty standard and predictable, and in some ways it was, but it worked alright for the film and had enough interesting things to make it feel fresh. Overall, the script was pretty good, all the subplots meld perfectly together and I was satisfied everything by the end. There isn’t a lot of time to go deep into character backgrounds but there are moments given to make us care enough about the characters and see why they are there. The worldbuilding is also amazing, the world of this movie is really fleshed out, with a lot of potential for future stories. This is also Snyder’s most comedic movie, while being one of his darkest. Some moments work better than others for sure, but the comedy mostly worked for me, and the dark humour really gives the movie a lot of personality. Despite the premise and how it’s advertised, I wouldn’t say that Army of the Dead is a dumb movie that you turn your brain off before watching. It actually does have some motives beyond just being another zombie movie. There’s even some social and political commentary. Much of the movie revolves around a refuge crisis, and has quite a cynical view of the US government and people in general. That’s quite in line with a lot of other “of the Dead” zombie movies, which quite often have present social commentary. It is also surprisingly serious at points, while there might be some familiar emotional beats, it doesn’t feel forced in and is sincere. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fun movie, but ultimately at its core, Army of the Dead is about a man overcoming grief and trying to reconnect with his daughter. The importance of family and the pain of less is at the centre of the movie, making the film a weirdly fitting pair with Snyder’s other 2021 film, his Justice League. It is a long movie at 2.5 hours, and while that can be daunting, I thought it was the right length even if you really felt the length. It takes its time in the first section but it’s worth it, as it’s setting up and establishing the world and the characters. After that point, I was completely on board with the movie all the way to the end.

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The cast are all great and I generally liked most of the characters, each of them served their own role in the story. The standouts for me were Matthias Schweighofer, Tig Notaro and Nora Arnezeder. Dave Bautista is in the lead role as a former mercenary takes to gather a team to pull off the heist, and he’s great. Bautista has been good in past movies like Blade Runner 2049, Spectre and the Marvel movies, but this is definitely the best performance I’ve seen from him so far. The relationship between him and his daughter (Ella Purnell) felt very convincing. The rest of the cast including Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Garret Dillahunt, Raul Castillo, Samantha Win and more also do well in their part.

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Of course there’s Zack Snyder’s direction to talk about, which is all around great. I really wish that I got to watch it on the big screen instead of at home on Netflix, because it really felt that it was meant to be seen in the cinema. Army of the Dead actually sees Snyder helming the role of director of photography himself, and as expected, it’s a great looking movie. The practical and digital effects are pretty good, as is the makeup on the zombies, and I really liked how the zombies were portrayed here. There are a lot of fantastic action sequences, very well shot and choreographed. Not to give too much away but the highlight action scenes were one mainly involving Samantha Win’s character that felt something straight out of a John Wick film, and the entire third act which escalates the insane action. Army of the Dead also joins other Snyder films like Watchmen, Batman v Superman and Justice League for very stylish and excellent opening sequences. Junkie XL’s score fits the movie perfectly, and even makes many of the scenes better, especially the moments of action.

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It really is no surprise that Netflix is all in with Zack Snyder and Army of the Dead, with a prequel film and anime-style tv series in development already. The action is satisfying, the cast are great and memorable, and I was quite entertained and invested throughout. If you enjoy any zombie movies, it is worth checking out for sure. It’s so far among my favourite movies of the year, and I’m looking forward to seeing more Army of the Dead follow ups and spin offs whenever they come out.

Wrath of Man (2021) Review

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Wrath of Man

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast:
Jason Statham as Patrick “H” Hill/Heargraves
Holt McCallany as Bullet
Jeffrey Donovan as Jackson
Josh Hartnett as Boy Sweat Dave
Chris Reilly as Tom
Laz Alonso as Carlos
Raúl Castillo as Sam
DeObia Oparei as Brad
Eddie Marsan as Terry
Scott Eastwood as Jan
Director: Guy Ritchie

Mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard (Jason Statham) for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Soon, the marksman’s ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score.

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I was interested in Wrath of Man. Not only was it a Guy Ritchie movie, but it would be his first collaboration with Jason Statham in a long time. The trailer for the movie was alright but it definitely seemed like more like a typical Jason Statham action flick than a Guy Ritchie movie, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect outside of some good action scenes. I still was interested in it however, and it ended up being better than I expected it to be.

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Essentially, Wrath of Man is a revenge thriller meets heist film. The plot wasn’t exactly predictable and was a tad on the generic side, but I found myself invested throughout its runtime. The characters are common personalities as well for a film of this genre, but they’re written confidently and in such a way that we can just focus on what they are involved in. While Wrath of Man features some Guy Ritchie tropes, there’s definitely a lot of distinct differences between this and most of his other films. It’s set in Los Angeles, the dialogue while being Ritchie-esque isn’t quite as snappy, and the characters aren’t quirky. It also doesn’t quite have the dark comedy that those other movies have. Wrath of Man is a dead serious, brutal, relentless, and violent revenge thriller, in fact this is definitely one of the darkest movies that Guy Ritchie has made. The middle section particularly gets grim, bleak and unsettling. At the same time, the tone felt right for this story, and it was well put together. One way Wrath of Man is similar to Ritchie’s other movies is the nonlinear narrative. We cut around to different character sand see their perspectives, even in the past. As a result, it gives the narrative even more context. It does get a little crazy with the time jumps, especially as we see title cards revealing that we are jumping months ahead and behind. The pacing runs a bit on the slower side, especially when we are often cutting back to the same events and just seeing them through different perspectives. A consequence of this is that it makes the movie feel longer than it really is. With that said, the slow pacing was necessary, and it is rewarded greatly with an entertaining and action packed climax.

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This movie has often been advertised as a Jason Statham flick, and he’s definitely the lead character in this. As expected, he plays his role similar to how you’d expect him to, basing it off his previous action and crime movie roles. However, there’s something slightly different to him in this, unlike his past roles (even his straight up villainous roles), he feels actually threatening in this. His character is mysterious and stoic, and he’s got this empty far-away look that makes him actually feel intimidating. He’s ruthless, and in some scenes seems almost like a terminator or slasher villain. At the same time he’s still very much not invincible, just very dangerous. Probably among Statham’s best performances. The rest of the cast are good too, with the likes of Holt McCallany, Scott Eastwood, Josh Hartnett, Jeffrey Donovan, Eddie Marsan and Andy Garcia providing solid support work.

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Guy Ritchie directs this, and his work here is really good. Even though I previously said that its different to a lot of his previous movies, you still do feel to a degree that it’s a Guy Ritchie film with the way things are shot and edited. It’s a very well shot movie, there are some impressive long takes, the movie even opens with a great long take. Despite how it was advertised, Wrath of Man isn’t an action-packed movie. Outside of a couple of action scenes in the first two acts, most of the action takes place in the last act, and it’s brutal, bloody, and kind of realistic. You feel every shot and impact, and the build up to it all is just as effective. One of the standout aspects from this movie immediately was the foreboding score from Chris Benstead, making an already unnerving film even more haunting. It has a sense of doom and dread that fits with the film, even sounding like something from Joker. It keeps the tension rising throughout the movie, creating this unsettling and intense atmosphere. Speaking of which, with the level of violence and intensity, it really makes the movie stand out in Ritchie’s filmography.

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Wrath of Man might actually be among Guy Ritchie’s best movies. The plot isn’t anything special or unpredictable, but the bleakness, the intense and haunting atmosphere, the non-linear narrative, and the fantastic action sequences, along with some solid acting and directing, it all combines to make an experience that I’m glad I saw, especially in the cinema. If you are a fan of Guy Ritchie’s movies or Jason Statham’s movies, I do recommend checking it out.