Following the recent success of his recut of Justice League, the rebound of Zack Snyder continues with Army of the Dead, a Las Vegas-set zombie movie crossed with a heist film that hits theaters on Friday, May 14, and then Netflix one week later. It’s also a return to a specific kind of feature that kickstarted his directorial career, calling to mind his 2004 debut with the Dawn of the Dead remake. The first reviews of Army of the Dead lean positive with appreciation for the usual Snyder visual flair and dependable zombie carnage, even if the story isn’t tight enough.Here’s what critics are saying about Army of the Dead:Is Zack Snyder in full comeback mode?The film is a triumph for a director whose career has been mired by polarizing opinions… If this is what Snyder looks like without studio control, please, sir, may we have some more? Charlie Ridgeley, ComicBook.comIt’s refreshing to see Snyder reignite his first love with this romp of a genre mash-up that lets Snyder loose with his most gleeful indulgences, almost as much as his worst excesses. John Nugent, Empire MagazineNever have the Snyderisms come so relentlessly, and never have they felt more welcome. Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/VultureIt’s the best I’ve seen from Snyder since Watchmen. Aaron Neuwirth, We Live EntertainmentWhat if you re not typically a Snyder fan?Will Army of the Dead change the minds of Snyder critics? Probably not. But for Snyder fans and anybody in the mood for bloodthirsty zombie action, the movie hits the jackpot. Ian Sandwell, Digital SpySnyder’s army of fans will devour it whole; others might find it by turns bland and flavorsome, and will certainly experience some bloating. Jamie Graham, Total FilmThe whole thing is a blast that hooked even this Snyder skeptic. David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter(Photo by Netflix)How does it compare to Dawn of the Dead?[It’s not] on par with his unassailable, killer remake Dawn of the Dead, but it’s entertaining enough. Courtney Howard, Fresh FictionIt feels like Snyder is doing exactly what he wants, and that early 2004 promise comes right back into focus. John Nugent, Empire MagazineDawn of the Dead had real stakes, honest performances… Such camaraderie, sense of discovery and community is missing in his latest return to zombie cinema. Nate Adams, The Only CriticWill it please zombie movie fans?It s easily the most exciting zombie film in years. Charlie Ridgeley, ComicBook.comIt’s the best video game movie zombie movie I’ve ever seen. Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek CommunityThere’s enough gore, mayhem, and decay in Army of the Dead to make for a satisfying zombie-movie experience. Alonso Duralde, The WrapSnyder’s myth-making skills feel sharply honed and fresh. David Rooney, Hollywood ReporterWe get a zombie king, and a zombie queen. There’s a zombie tiger. A zombie horse. Even a zombie baby. These details should seem fresh, but they get lost in all of the mayhem. Chris Evangelista, SlashfilmThere is something weirdly and oppressively uninspired in this CGI world, a continuous two-and-a-half hour splurge of generic zombie content which itself feels a bit zombie-ish. Peter Bradshaw, GuardianArmy of the Dead is by no means a must-watch zombie or heist movie, and folks uninterested in this film would be fine to skip it. Molly Freeman, Screen Rant(Photo by Clay Enos/Netflix)How s the visual spectacle?The movie always looks terrific with Snyder acting as the cinematographer too, so you can t question that you re getting the full Snyder experience. Ian Sandwell, Digital SpySnyder is best known for his stunning visuals and his technical mastery is on full display in Army of the Dead. The fact that he shot the film himself in addition to directing is beyond impressive. Charlie Ridgeley, ComicBook.comVisually, the set pieces are fantastic to look at, and there are individual moments of splendor but nothing which stood out. Dewey Singleton, AwardsWatchSnyder stages long stretches of Army of the Dead like a video game, with our characters moving down hallways and wordlessly blowing away zombies. These are technically action scenes, but there’s no grace; no style. Not even a blunt realness. Chris Evangelista, SlashfilmJulie Berghoff’s production design deserves its own star billing. David Rooney, Hollywood ReporterHow is the ensemble cast?[Dave Bautista] proves a catchy leading brute with a Doc-Savage-as-teddy-bear quality he doesn’t overplay. Owen Gleiberman, VarietyMatthias Schweighöfer steals the show as German safe cracker Ludwig Dieter. Ian Sandwell, Digital SpyOmari Hardwick and Matthias Schweighöfer [are] the clear-cut standouts. Their chemistry is off the charts and they bring the biggest laughs, as well as the heaviest emotional punches. Charlie Ridgeley, ComicBook.comThe only real standouts are [Tig] Notaro’s chopper pilot and Schweighöfer’s hapless safecracker. Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm[Tig] Notoro is the biggest standout of the cast insofar as she s the only one having fun with the material. Molly Freeman, Screen RantIs the portrayal of women problematic?The film s portrayal and desecration of women s bodies in particular is incredibly frustrating… Even in their destruction, women exist solely to serve men. Molly Freeman, Screen RantThere are times when Army of the Dead feels mean-spirited. It s not helped that most of these moments involve the female characters, where the male characters get the larger share of Heroic Sacrifice moments. Ian Sandwell, Digital SpyHow is the writing?Stop and think too hard and Army of the Dead risks falling apart, but Snyder keeps a pace in which logic often feels like a lost cause. Eric Kohn, IndieWireThough Snyder, Hatten and Harold attempt to complicate the plot of the movie by including various twists, most of them are trite variations on old standbys. Molly Freeman, Screen RantThe overly-convoluted plot tends to be its own worst enemy at times, leading to a perceptible imbalance. Courtney Howard, Fresh FictionSeveral subplots and red herrings exist to inflate an already elongated runtime, when all I wanted was Ocean s 11 with zombies. Nate Adams, The Only CriticWhat about the pacing and runtime?Almost breezy, even at a characteristically extended 2 1/2 hours…This is a long movie, but it doesn’t feel long. It moves. A.A. Dowd, AV ClubAfter the bloated excess of Snyder’s extended Justice League cut, Army feels lean and brisk. Alonso Duralde, The WrapAfter his four-hour Justice League cut, two-and-a-half hours might seem relatively thrifty, but there are pacing issues. John Nugent, Empire MagazineIt’s all very exhausting, and at 148 minutes, Army of the Dead more than overstays its welcome. Chris Evangelista, SlashfilmIt s overlong and labored in places, but worth a bite for the money-shot set-pieces. Jamie Graham, Total Film(Photo by Clay Enos/Netflix)Is there the typical zombie movie social commentary?The contemporary social context is hammered home… The concept of borders alone now takes on weighted significance in the film’s world. David Rooney, Hollywood ReporterIf you are aiming to make a statement then mere glancing in the direction of social injustice isn’t going to cut it. Hannah Strong, Little White LiesSnyder’s zombies might think and run to shake things up, but they aren’t placeholders for anything other than the scary-fun of watching their mangled corpses wreak gory havoc. Eric Kohn, IndieWireThat the film doesn’t belabor or over-stress its political conscience is vintage Romero, in the best sense. A.A. Dowd, AV ClubIs this just a fun time at the movies?Snyder has fashioned for us delicious, pure camp. Courtney Howard, Fresh FictionArmy Of The Dead is best when Snyder leans into the fun, and allows himself moments of pure silliness. John Nugent, Empire MagazineArmy of the Dead is a wild ride of a film… a good time at the movies. Aaron Neuwirth, We Live EntertainmentArmy of the Dead — which, let me reiterate, is a Vegas heist flick set during a zombie apocalypse — should be a lot more fun than it is. Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture(Photo by Clay Enos/Netflix)How does the film s surprising sweetness play?[Especially] audacious is the unexpected infusion of heart. Courtney Howard, Fresh FictionWhen he aims for more emotional territory we start to feel the weight of that running time. John Nugent, Empire MagazineTonally, the film is all over the place. At different points, Army of the Dead is all heart while others it is pessimistic and bleak. Dewey Singleton, AwardsWatchWill this leave us wanting more?Army of the Dead is too long while still leaving much unexplained – animated series Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas and prequel movie Army of Thieves will take care of that. Jamie Graham, Total FilmIt represents a wider problem with modern blockbuster filmmaking – to fully understand one film you have to watch a litany of adjacent films and TV crossovers. Hannah Strong, Little White LiesWhether or not Army of the Dead spawns an actual sequel, somehow it’s just not that exciting of a prospect. You kind of already know where it’s going to go, what notes it’s going to hit. K. Austin Collins, Rolling StoneArmy of the Dead releases in select theaters on May 14, 2021 and streams on Netflix on May 21, 2021.On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.