Zack Snyder’s New Vegas-set zombie movie Army of the Dead is receiving mostly positive reviews, making it the second of Snyder’s 2021 movies that’s managed to please the critics. Army of the Dead and the Snyder Cut of Justice League, which was released in March on HBO Max, are neck-and-neck on Rotten Tomatoes, with Army of the Dead securing a higher overall score and Justice League reviews having a higher average rating.
Of course, comparing these two movies is like comparing apples and oranges. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a four-hour epic that’s substantially different to the version of the movie that was released in 2017 and was largely comprised of footage from reshoots by replacement director Joss Whedon. A years-long campaign by fans for the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League proved successful, with Warner Bros. investing an additional $70 million to complete Snyder’s version of the film. While not all critics thought Snyder’s cut of Justice League was good, the overwhelming consensus is that it’s definitely better than the 2017 version.
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Army of the Dead also had a difficult journey to the screen. It was first announced back in 2007, but then was left in development hell until being picked up by Netflix in 2019. Snyder’s previous zombie movie, a remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, is generally considered to be one of his best films. Therefore, while it may not have been driven by a fierce fan campaign like the Snyder Cut was, there was a lot of interest in seeing Snyder’s return to the zombie genre (especially after the trailer revealed a zombie tiger). Army of the Dead currently holds a score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to the 71% critics score for Zack Snyder’s Justice League. However, the Snyder Cut actually has a higher average rating – 6.7/10 compared to Army of the Dead‘s 6.3/10.
Rotten Tomatoes’ scoring system has been criticized for reducing reviews to a binary positive (“Fresh”) or negative (“Rotten”) score, which means that a mediocre but generally inoffensive film with mostly 3/5 reviews can end up with a higher score than a movie that gets rave reviews from some critics, while being panned by others. A closer look at the reviews for Army of the Dead and Zack Snyder’s Justice League indicates that the Netflix zombie movie is more of a people-pleaser, with generally positive reviews that praise it for being enjoyable, if somewhat uneven, and the negative reviews saying it falls short of its ambitions and suffers from being overly long.
Meanwhile, the Justice League Snyder Cut has attracted more passionate reviews on both ends of the spectrum. For example, Slant‘s review states that “The film could be taken as an intentional travesty of the superhero genre, if only it weren’t so tortuously tedious,” while Mashable‘s review acknowledges its flaws but applauds it for taking risks: “It’s a movie that cares enough to swing big, even if that means it misses sometimes.”
Snyder’s films have a reputation for being sharply divisive. This has only been compounded by the cult of personality surrounding the director, who has garnered the kind of fiercely devoted fandom that’s usually reserved for actors and music artists rather than filmmakers. But in terms of wider public opinion, both Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Army of the Dead seem to have won people over, and put him in a strong position for whatever project he moves on to next.
More: Read Screen Rant’s Review of Army of the Dead
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