Week Of 05.23.2021 Movie Reviews

Reviewing Army Of The Dead And Dream Horse

After a busy post Mother’s Day weekend, we get a quiet one this week as a film released theatrically for limited audiences last weekend comes to Netflix streaming in a new Zack Snyder project - Army Of The Dead. We also got a very small and long delayed feel-good horse racing film from Bleeker Street in Dream Horse.

But first, a reminder of what my grading system for movies works like
- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film I’ve Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Graded Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
- Reminder: Reviews For These Films Can Change Over Time And Will Be Reflected Over At Our Letterboxd

With all that out of the way, lets get to the review already...

- The Plot: Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble: venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.

- My Review: This film had two massive things going against it in terms of trying to win me over. A) As my review of JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE SNYDER CUT showed, I am not easily wowed by Zack Snyder’s work. B) I am not the biggest fan of Zombie movies - even Romero’s classics. With that bias entering my review of this I would note this didn’t end up turning me off as much as I feared it would - but it also didn’t strike me as the fun action romp so many other critics have said this is. Overall this was an okay film…just an okay film.

The things I didn’t like range from terrible dialogue, over the top gore and action, a body count that starts to become nothing but blood and guts on screen just cause by the third act, strange character decisions as if to force certain subplots and story beats, trope characters, predictable story turns, and a film that overstayed its welcome with a bit of a “F*ck You” ending as I like to call the sort of finishes to a film this one has.

However as much as there was plenty that I didn’t like, this had good things as well. Its got one of the best intros I’ve ever seen to a film, some of the actions sequences here are really cool to watch unfold, there’s actual attempts at lore building with the Zombies in this in ways too many other Zombie properties don’t attempt, the characters did at least have good motivations and personalities to them, and Dave Bautista is a highlight in this in the lead role even with the subpar material he’s given. (Just don’t bring Zombies back into the wrestling ring Dave - WWE watchers will understand that reference).

Overall this felt like an okay time killing horror action flick that is where it belongs on Netflix. Its the typical mediocre material I expect from Snyder, but to the film’s credit there’s also a lot of interesting and new concepts here that made the Zombie part of it more palatable to me as someone who isn’t a fan of the Zombie subgenre. C+ for ARMY OF THE DEAD. Its okay movie to put on at home on a lazy afternoon, but honestly had it come out theatrically I would have advised you just wait to rent it instead of wasting a trip to the movies and a paycheck on concessions.

- The Plot: The inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town bartender, Jan Vokes. With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream and compete with the racing elites. Their investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks and becomes a beacon of hope in their struggling community.

- My Review: On paper this long delayed small and intimate flick, made seemingly as something your Grandparents could watch while you soak in the newest blockbuster, should have been in the vein of other small films like this of the nearly half-year. Movies like SENIOR MOMENT or HERE TODAY that ended up feeling like reject Hallmark films more than something to see on the big screen. However I am happy to report this ended up being a nice charming crowd pleaser that all in all I think was the first film worthy of the theatrical experience since STOWAWAY and the first from an actually theatrically released film since GODZILLA VS KONG.

Toni Collette is in the lead role here and as someone who hasn’t been as wild about her recent films as others have (Sorry but I really did not like I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, found HEREDITARY to be a tad overrated, and don’t get me started on my befuddlement for the love KNIVES OUT gets from everyone but my wife and I), I will admit she’s always been a great actress and her performance in this proves it as she shows her range. The entire ensemble here of the various village folk and how they end up getting behind this Horse really grabs you into the plot and makes you find yourself on the edge of your seat as the climatic race starts.

The only thing that keeps this from getting higher grades from me is that as crowd pleasing and well shot and acted as it is, it still ends up feeling like a really well made Hallmark movie or a good but not too memorable festival flick. There is no SEABISCUIT type of vibes here, its not a groundbreaking sports flick. But all in all I’d honestly recommend folks curious about this one go to the local theatre and enjoy this on the big screen. Its just a well done feel-good film. B- for DREAM HORSE. After almost two months of mediocre films, this is a refreshing little treat just as Summer blockbuster season is upon us.

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