Tag Archives: Saw

My Thoughts on: Army of the Dead (2021)

warning: minor spoilers below for Army of the Dead

I was originally going to skip this film altogether because I normally avoid zombie films (I’m scared to death of zombies and the undead in general). However, after I was able to successfully get through Spiral earlier this week, I decided to give Army of the Dead a try because after all, why not? I’ve been proven wrong before with scary films (the Saw franchise being a notable example), so maybe Army of the Dead would be a similar case where finally, FINALLY, I would find a zombie film I could get into.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way.

Don’t get me wrong, Army of the Dead does have some good moments in it (I’ll get to them shortly) but as a whole….I just don’t like it. I don’t know if I went in with the wrong expectations or I’m just not that familiar with how Zack Snyder makes movies, but Army of the Dead by and large was nothing like what I expected it would be. For one, it’s much too long and worse, it begins with a first act that, after a killer opening, is almost dead on arrival afterward. I feel like if you’re going to do a big zombie heist film, you should get to the zombie action part sooner rather than later and the movie just took way too long to get to where it needed to go.

Thank goodness there were some fun moments along the way. The zombie tiger is one of my favorite parts of the whole movie and I love the role it plays within the story as a source of karma. I also love that I was right about the tiger being one of Siegfried and Roy’s (well who else in Las Vegas would have white tigers?).

And then there’s Dieter (the safecracker, played by Matthias Schweighöfer). To quote Looney Tunes, I like him, he’s silly. Seriously, Dieter is my favorite non-zombie character as he’s probably the closest you’ll ever come to seeing how I would act in a zombie apocalypse situation. It was genuinely fun to watch his character arc develop from beginning to end. Also, his chemistry with Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) is genuinely funny. It’s an odd couple pairing that totally works (if only the rest of the film had clicked so well as those two).

On the zombie side of things (outside of the tiger), I was really intrigued by the film’s presentation of “Alpha” zombies. I’m pretty sure the concept of “smart zombies” has been explored before, but I like what Snyder was going for, the idea of there being a type of zombie that still continues to have some form of functional society and order, even if it’s taken on a cruder form. There’s even a mention of “trading” being done with the zombies, which is something you really don’t encounter that often (or ever??) in zombie films and it’s a plot point I wouldn’t mind seeing explored further. I really did enjoy the performances of the two lead zombies. Since we can’t understand zombie speak, most of their performances is channeled through their movements and body language and that was all very well done.

Oh, and on a quick note: I LOVE Tig Notaro, you’d never guess she’d been digitally inserted into the film after the fact.

But these good things don’t change the fact that most of the film rubbed me the wrong way, particularly in how it ends. I had a feeling early on that things wouldn’t end well for most everyone going in to Las Vegas because it’s a zombie film and that’s how zombie films work. But for the love of all things holy in cinema, one of the film’s primary subplots was rendered absolutely moot by how the ending pans out. What was the point of trying to rescue that one character if they die in the end? I get that not all stories have a happy ending but that plot trope in particular drives me crazy. As for the ending scene itself (not THAT scene with Vanderohe, the one before that), I get it, I do. It tugs at all the right heartstrings and is downright heart wrenching. But…I might have felt it even more if the preceding hour hadn’t bummed me out with disappointment.

If you enjoy Army of the Dead, I am genuinely happy for you and I’m glad you enjoyed the ride. But for me, it just felt wrong for the most part, and I felt more disappointment than satisfaction by the time the credits rolled.

Let me know what you think about Army of the Dead in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)

I finally did it.

After years and YEARS of hemming and hawing and chickening out of watching a new Saw film in theaters when I had the chance, I finally summoned my courage and went to see Spiral: From the Book of Saw in theaters.

Here’s the good news: I did make it through the entire film without bailing out. Since this was my first time watching a Saw film in theaters, that was huge for me and I’m so proud of myself for making it all the way through.

However….is the film any good? Well, I’m not entirely sure and that’s a big part of what I wanted to talk about in this review.

Here’s the thing about the story of Saw: after the conclusion of Saw: The Final Chapter, I thought the long and twisted story of the Jigsaw Killer had finally come to an emphatic end, rendering the need for any future sequels nonexistent. That’s why I ignored the Jigsaw film when it came out, it didn’t seem necessary. After all, in-story the Jigsaw Killer died a LONG time ago, what more could the story possibly tell us?

As it turns out, Spiral: From the Book of Saw decided there was in fact more to be told. But not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, NOT in the way you might expect if you’ve watched the previous 8 films. For most of its runtime, Spiral: From the Book of Saw does not play like a Saw film, even the trap sequences feel different in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on. Oh, the classic “Saw death trap” look is there, but if you compare these traps to the ones in, say, Saw II or Saw III, there’s a distinct difference in how they play out. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad, but it was disappointing, because even in the midst of my fear and discomfort, I could tell that the earlier films would’ve scared me MORE than what this film was doing.

However, there were promising glimmers in this story that spent most of its time trying to decide what type of film it wanted to be. It felt like Spiral was yo-yo’ing between being a twisted cop drama and a traditional Saw film. Which is to say, outside of the trap sequences, it doesn’t feel like a Saw film at all (even the references to John Kramer didn’t help). But as I said, there was a glimmer of promise that came in the last 5-10 minutes of the film when the story finally came together as only a Saw film can. Once all of the puzzle pieces were assembled and the true diabolical plot laid bare, I was enraptured (if utterly terrified). There is the potential for a fantastic new villain here, one that I desperately want to see explored in a sequel.

I didn’t think anyone could top the twisted logic of John Kramer’s Jigsaw, but THIS new villain, oh they proved me wrong. If a sequel is permitted to go forward, I would love to see what this character could do now that we know who and what they are. Plus, given how the film ends, it’s fairly obvious the door is wide open for this sequel to happen. But will we get that sequel? I’m not sure, like I said most of the film is pretty uneven and can’t decide what type of film it wants to be. I think it might have worked slightly better if they’d leaned a little more into the traditional ‘Saw movie’ mold, but I also understand why the filmmakers would want to try a different format too.

If the goal of Spiral: From the Book of Saw was to scare and terrify, then congratulations it succeeded with me, because I stumbled out of the theater an absolute wreck (though I admit I do scare easily). For that alone, I have to call this film at the very least a passable success.

But was it GOOD? Well, no, not really. Now that the adrenaline has worn off, I can admit that much. It had its enjoyable moments, and I was never bored, but there was too much back and forth in tone to make this film “good.”

Maybe I’m wrong though. Let me know what YOU think about Spiral: From the Book of Saw in the comments below and have a great day!

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