With COVID-19 currently keeping people from going to their local movie theatre, several streaming services have been pumping out their own films to hopefully please their subscribers, both old and new. Netflix in particular has been releasing several films over the last few months, like the brightly-coloured animated movie The Mitchells vs. The Machines, and Zack Snyder’s gory zombie film Army of the Dead.
Do these films live up to the hype? Let’s take a deeper dive.
NOTE: There will be an attempt to not spoil anything about the following films.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
All hail our lords and saviours of comedy movies: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
For those who don’t know who Lord and Miller are, they are the geniuses behind several incredible films throughout the last decade, such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the Jump Street movies (21 and 22). Their filmography only gets larger with their new movie.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines (produced by Lord and Miller) is the delightful story of Katie Mitchell who is beginning to head to art school. Meanwhile, her father Rick, a nature enthusiast and hater of technology, doubts if Katie can succeed with what she is doing. Eventually, the entire family, including Katie, Rick, Linda (Katie’s mom), and Aaron (Katie’s dinosaur-loving, little brother), decides to take a long road trip to Katie’s college. However, a robot apocalypse emerges during their journey and plans to get rid of all humanity. It’s a long journey as the Mitchells try to gel together while attempting to defeat the evil A.I.
To start off, the animation is very beautiful and fresh because of the different animation styles used. It allows for a lot of comedic expressions and sometimes, even breathtaking visuals. The movie itself is really funny, showing the struggles that older adults have with new technology and how many of us use technology constantly. There is also Monchi, who is an adorable pug that will make you giggle throughout the film.
The two main themes that hit home in the film are family and following your true passion. In the film, Katie is shown to be a creative, quirky person who has loved to create funny YouTube shorts ever since she was a child. However, her father Rick has been butting heads with her since he believes that doing art and video animation is not a suitable job to maintain a steady life. He is also torn by how he and Katie are not bonding as much compared to when Katie was a little girl.
There are a lot of individuals out there in the world who are attempting to release their work towards a public audience whether through art, music, film, and more. However, it is a rocky road for many to make their work famous and it is also difficult to handle people who are unreasonably criticizing them for no good reason. These individuals can relate to Katie and her journey of finding a crowd who enjoys her work and understand her as a person.
In addition to following your own passion, family plays a major role in the Mitchells’ expedition. The Mitchells are represented as not a perfect family. They are dysfunctional, loud, and would be the last group of beings any person would choose to save the planet. In addition, Katie and Rick’s relationship has torn a bit due to Katie’s obsession with her films and Rick’s grief that he rarely spends time with her lately. However, through it all, the family learns that their imperfections make them who they are as people and begin to mesh more over the course of the film.
There is an argument to be made that this movie is an animated classic right out of the gates. There isn’t really anything wrong with it. If there is a nitpick, it would be some of the things that occur during the film. However, that may be a stretch to say. If you haven’t watched it yet, it is a must-see film on Netflix.
Army of the Dead
Coming off his successful vision of the Justice League film, Zack Snyder has been seen as a saviour for many DC Comics fans, as many fans have pressured Warner Brothers Studios to release the #SnyderVerse. Although that has yet to be released in any form, Netflix decided to give Snyder almost 90 million dollars to direct, produce, and write the story of his new film, the Army of the Dead.
The story involves a zombie outbreak occurring in the city of Las Vegas, causing the entire area of Las Vegas to be quarantined. However, a casino owner recruits a group of mercenaries, soldiers and safecrackers to successfully recover 200 million dollars of cash in a safe beneath his casino. The issue: it is found within the zombie-infested area of Las Vegas. Potentially a suicide mission, this group of skilled individuals plans to hopefully get the money without being devoured to death by the zombies that inhabit what is left of Vegas.
To start talking about this film, one of its main strengths is its bloody gore. Being an R-rated film, it lives up to its title by showing immense amounts of zombie action and frightening images. Snyder’s fun action sequences do show themselves in this movie. In addition, it was a nice refreshing sight to see a cast filled with diversity in a thriller like this and the few comedic bits were fun to watch as well.
However, despite the great action, the film itself was a bit underwhelming while viewing it. The Army of the Dead poster especially may be a bit misleading. An extra action scene or two could have helped make the movie more enjoyable, as the film does not start the money heist quickly but instead takes a longer time than expected.
The location of Vegas is also underutilized to its full potential. When one thinks of Vegas, they think a lot about its vivid, coloured lights and many casinos. Although the demolished casinos and wreckage look interesting, seeing more of the demolished Vegas area could be appealing to the audience.
As for the story, it’s your typical zombie movie with all the fun heist stuff associated with it. However, the odd part of this movie is that it tries to include some ideas that seem intriguing on the surface but does not go into full detail. There have been discussions around whether this film will spawn a cinematic universe of sorts with a potential prequel or sequel.
And as for the characters, they are unfortunately all over the place. The acting for all the characters is fine as no one seemed particularly offensive. However, it seemed as if the majority of them had no real reason as to why they wanted the 200 million dollars other than the fact they are highly skilled with weapons and safecracking. More specifically, there were two characters (that I will not spoil their names) that made arguably dumb decisions that were based on weak and unreasonable motivations. This caused more conflict within the story than needed and could have been avoided entirely.
Lastly, to return to the Vegas location aspect, the movie also should have taken place more at night rather than during the day. It would have increased the horror element that the film was going with on top of the thriller portions.
Overall, this is a fun, gory movie with a couple of plot holes and some interesting ideas that are not explored more. If you turn off your brain with this film, it will be a lot more enjoyable.
Netflix, Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead Poster. Netflix, 2021.