In 1590, Coronado dispatched a division of one thousand men to find the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. Those men never returned. While searching Baja peninsula caves as part of an ...
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In 1590, Coronado dispatched a division of one thousand men to find the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. Those men never returned. While searching Baja peninsula caves as part of an archeological expedition, a university professor and his students unwittingly unleash a long dormant curse. Written by
Army of the Dead is a classic example of a film with ideas much bigger than its budget: a group of desert racers pitted against a legion of Conquistador skeletons is a wonderful notion, and using CGI technology to realise the complex visuals is perfectly OK in my book (I like CGI when done well), but, without enough cash in the coffers to do the concept justice, what is the point?
The film starts off well enough, as a fairly likable bunch of thrill-seekers set off on a 500 mile high-speed journey, with one of their number secretly searching for the location of an ancient horde of gold. However, after he discovers the treasure, and triggers a curse that see hundreds of bony soldiers rise from their graves to protect the loot, the film goes rapidly downhill.
With a skeletal army obviously 'inspired' by Jason and the Argonauts (and, consequently, Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness), a middle section which reminded me of Assault on Precinct, and a Terminator style ending (that last difficult-to-destroy skeleton looking more than a little like the relentless T-800 crawling after Sarah Connor), the film rarely feels very original (and is it just my imagination, or does the Army of the Dead's music also take its cues from the soundtracks of these far superior films?).
Furthermore, the film's poorly developed script is loaded with plot contrivances and very silly moments that really take some swallowing: the hero's (obviously very rich) friends give him an original 16th century sword for a birthday present (unpractical when going on a long cross-country car journey, but so convenient against the undead); the guy seeking the treasure hires gun toting mercenaries to help him and looks surprised when he is double-crossed; a girl reveals she possesses super powers by lifting a huge boulder above her head; and the final survivors discover a convenient, abandoned radio station equipped with fuel and a massive generatorideal for destroying their enemies.
And as for the effects... in the right lighting (ie., very low), the CGI skeletal warriors are just about passable, but, for the most part, they look cheap (because they are) and laughable. Likewise, the various other digital effectsexplosions, squirting blood, electrical power surgesare extremely amateurish and therefore quite unconvincing.
Army of the Dead might possibly be fun for those who enjoy really cheesy B-movie trash, but will no doubt be quite painful for most others.
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