Tag Archives: Theo Rossi

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.

Luke Cage Season 2 (2018) TV Review

Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Mike Colter as Luke Cage
Simone Missick as Mercedes “Misty” Knight
Theo Rossi as Hernan “Shades” Alvarez
Gabrielle Dennis as Tilda Johnson
Mustafa Shakir as John “Bushmaster” McIver
Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard
Reg E. Cathey as James Lucas
Created By: Cheo Hodari Coker

After clearing his name, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) has become a celebrity on the streets of Harlem with a reputation as bulletproof as his skin. But being so visible has only increased his need to protect the community and find the limits of who he can and can’t save. With the rise of a formidable new foe, Luke is forced to confront the fine line that separates a hero from a villain.

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Note: Features spoilers for Luke Cage Season 1

My last tv review was of Iron Fist Season 1, ever since then, The Defenders, The Punisher Season 1 and Jessica Jones Season 2 have all come out and I’ve watched them but I haven’t reviewed them (I may end up reviewing those seasons later on). I recall the first season of Luke Cage well, the first half was really good with great characters and storylines and was a gritty crime drama, and the second half had a massive quality drop and tonal change, becoming really silly and goofy. As whole it is solid but still felt like a mixed bag. So I was really not sure what Season 2 would bring us. On the whole, Season 2 it works quite well and is a noticeable upgrade over the first season, for the mere fact that it is a lot more consistent in quality. Like with most of the other shows, it can still feel drawn out, and on top of that Luke really wasn’t as good here as he was in Season 1. But Season 2 is still a pretty good season and well worth a lot of praise, and it’s a shame that this is the last season of the show before it was cancelled.

Season 2 has yet another one of the Netflix marvel issues, with it being 13 episodes long and once again it does feel drawn out. However, even if the episodes pacing slow down quite a bit, usually they end up making up for it by having great character and acting moments or something similar like that, so you don’t feel like your time is being wasted or anything. There’s lots of storylines going on at once and they all interwoven well, some are more interesting than others but I generally liked them all. The supporting characters were quite interesting and had their own stories going on while Luke was having his. A theme I noticed that was constant throughout this season is the relationship between parents and their children, with Luke Cage reuniting with his father and Mariah Dillard reuniting with her daughter. As for how this season ends, it’s not bad but it’s a really weird way to end the season, bit of a cliff-hanger. The end of the season puts Luke in an interesting position that makes me interested in what direction he’ll go in next time we see him on screen. And I don’t mean next season because as I said, Luke Cage got cancelled, so I’m not sure how or where his story will continue next.

Luke Cage as a character in the first season actually worked well even if some of the supporting characters shined a little more than him, it still felt like his shot. Unfortunately, he has downgraded from the first season. Mike Colter still plays the role as best as he can, but he can’t help but feel rather uninteresting and at times annoying and downright unlikable, especially early in the season. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really get much better as the season progresses, he doesn’t go on a noticeable character arc. Danny Rand/Iron Fist in his second season has managed to improve upon all of his faults and became a better character than the first. Luke did the opposite here. Simone Missick as Misty Knight is once again a highlight in this show, here she’s dealing with the aftermath of the events of The Defenders where she got one of her hand cut off (and yes she eventually gets a robotic hand to replace it). She’s also really good in this season as well. Another standout from the first season is Theo Rossi as Shades and he’s also great here. He’s one of the most interesting characters in the show and you don’t really know what he’s going to do next, it’s hard pinning down his character. He has a lot of scenes with Mariah Dillard (who I’ll get into a little later). In terms of new characters, the biggest standout is the late great Reg E. Cathey as James Lucas, Luke Cage’s father. The two of them have a rocky relationship and it was interesting seeing how their relationship was developing. Cathey does give a final great performance and the scenes between him and Colter are really good. We also get some brief but solid appearances by Finn Jones as Danny Rand and Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing (from Iron Fist) and they all feel like they should actually be there and they serve a purpose, it’s not just a reminder that all these shows are connected.

Season 1 had one great villain in Cottonmouth and one really poor villain with Diamondback. This time, the two villains this season were both great, them being Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) and Mariah Dillard (Alfred Woodard). It does feel like the show switches between the two villains in terms of focus at times, like one would be the one that Luke Cage has to deal with and then it switches to the other. Bushmaster is a great villain, and like many of the Netflix marvel villains has his own backstory that explain his action and motivations. On top of that, he’s also is a physical threat to Luke Cage and he doesn’t need a goofy suit like Diamondback to do it, so that adds another threatening aspect to him. Mariah Dillard was established in the previous season and she was good, it established her as someone going on a darker path once she kills Cottonmouth (which coincidentally signalled the drop of quality for the rest of the season). In season 2 however, she’s on another level. She goes into way darker territory this time, and Woodard is fantastic in the role. She’s a complicated character and you see that in scenes with her daughter, and it’s just interesting seeing what she would do next. Woodard’s performance is among the highlights of this season, she has some truly fantastic scenes here. I know some people however didn’t really find her character all that great so if you didn’t like her in the first season, just a heads up that you’re going to see a lot of her in the second season.

Like with the first season, Luke Cage does well to separate itself from all the other Marvel Netflix shows with its style, and much of its style has continued over to the second season. Generally the show is directed rather well. The action in Luke Cage is some of the weakest of the Netflix shows. Not that I blame the show too much, it’s hard to have the main character feel like he’s vulnerable against enemies while also being invincible. Jessica Jones has abilities but most of the show is her using her other skills instead so she isn’t involved in too many fighting scenes. With Luke Cage however, some of the ‘fight scenes’ are usually obligatory, to show off that Luke is bulletproof. The reason that it is rather poor is that it usually ends up being Luke walking into a room, people try to fight or shoot him (obviously failing), he knocks them out or gets them to give up information, rinse and repeat. To their credit, they do spice it up with some fights between him and Bushmaster, which are entertaining because Bushmaster can actually hold his own against Cage (in fact its usually Cage who has the more trouble during these fights). Also like in the first season, the fights are all filmed pretty well, you can actually see what’s going on. However, I think its pretty clear that the show’s highlights are more with the characters and the story than the fight/action scenes.

Season 2 of Luke Cage still does have its faults, it can be slow and drawn out, there isn’t much tension in the fight scenes (again), and Luke has downgraded as a character. However, it is much more consistent than Season 1, the supporting characters are great and it just felt better and was solid overall. It’s unfortunate that we aren’t getting another season, it was getting better. I’m not sure when or where we’ll see Luke Cage or the rest of the characters again but hopefully it’ll be soon.