Army of the Dead (2008)

Army of the Dead (2005)

A Lost Treasure. An Epic Adventure. Unspeakable Terror.

A group of students arrange to go off-roading in the desert as a birthday present. Along for the ride is their professor but he has an ulterior motive for going into the Mexican wilderness – in his possession is a map which will lead him to the discovery of ancient Conquistador treasure. However the treasure is guarded by an army of skeletons who are unleashed to kill any who would try and steal their precious gold.

 

There should be more films about killer skeletons. Or just armies of skeletons in general. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad had a duelling skeleton. Jason and the Argonauts had a thrilling climax with an amazing skeleton fight. The Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness had a skeleton army attacking a castle in its finale. Even A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors had Freddy’s skeleton come to life towards the end. It’s no coincidence that all of these films rock. So when I saw the cover for Army of Dead, I had to see it as soon as possible. Let’s just say that the previously unblemished reputation of evil skeleton films reviewed on this site has been well and truly harmed.

Let’s get down to the ‘bare bones’ of the film: the skeletons themselves. The CGI looks shoddy and I mean really shoddy. In some instances they don’t seem to have been superimposed into the setting as most of the background is black and they seem to be walking in mid-air. They all act in the same manner too. They all raise their swords at the same time. They all march in line. They all smirk at the same time. It’s as if they just produced one model on the computer and pasted it about eighty times (or someone just filmed the computer screen to avoid the whole process). The massive army is never seen on the same screen as the humans and it seems to take forever to get remotely close to them. When the skeletons do appear in the same frame as humans, there’s only one of them! You never get the impression that they’re in any danger. The army seems to attack one skeleton at a time or just fire arrows or cannons from a distance (I know that’s because of the budget constraints but come on, why lure us with the prospect of an army and then cheat us out of it at the last).

I have to say that the first attack on the camp is pretty entertaining but apart from that, the skeletons don’t do a whole lot. For some reason, the blood is also CGI so whenever one of the cast gets stabbed, it’s all computer animated. Surely they could have given us some real blood. It’s not like corn syrup and red dye is expensive. The explosions are also CGI too so that means whenever a car or petrol can blows up, there’s just a really bad fireball covering it on the screen but you can still see it unharmed in the background of the effect. Blow stuff up for real or don’t blow it up, that’s my motto!

As for the rest of the film, well the only reason I wanted to see this film was because of the skeletons and so I knew what I was getting myself in for. The story is terrible. The acting is appalling. I can’t believe they actually put Miguel Martinez’s name (the guy who plays the professor) on the front cover. His delivery is laughable at best, offensive to Shakespearian actors at worst. There’s not a very big cast but part from the two leads, the rest of the characters aren’t fleshed out. Heck, I can’t even remember some of them speaking so when their car is blown up, I’m sat thinking whether I should give a damn. And just to add spice to the plot, there’s a love triangle going on, the professor hires some mercenaries to help him track down the gold and there’s some older geezer there who has a shotgun handy for trouble. These minor sub-plots add nothing to the film except talking, bland dialogue and padding between skeleton attacks. Come to think of it, the first attack is about fifty minutes in so be prepared to sit quietly or hit the fast forward button.

 

I really wanted to like Army of the Dead for the sole reason that seeing evil sword-wielding skeletons fighting with humans is worth the price of any film. However I was proven wrong. You might as well go back and watch Jason and the Argonauts again. It’s say to sad but in the twenty-five years since that was released, skeleton special effects have gone backwards!

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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