A zombie movie fest? It was bound to happen. I've had several zombie movies in my queue, waiting to be seen. However, I just wasn't in the right state of mind to watch them and I didn't have the time. But, with the 3 day weekend upon me.... I figured there was no time like the present! So I fired up Netflix and away we go!
Let's start this off by saying, I'm not a fan of Nazi zombie movies or "flying through the air" zombie movies. Both of them have their exceptions, but overall.... they just rub me the wrong way. 'Dead Snow' and 'Day of the Dead' (2008) are a couple of ones that I actually enjoyed in each sub-genre. Because of this, I had really low expectations for 'War of the Dead'. It was Nazi zombies who jumped and flew through the air like super heroes or something. Knowing that, I was all prepared to hate this take on the genre. Well, I can admit when I'm wrong and I was wrong about this one. It may not be my new favorite zombie movie ever, but it certainly delivered a much better experience than I could have ever hoped for. The zombies were fearsome, but not scary. The action was well paced and not too much. The script was fairly basic, but enjoyable. There was only one scene that had me completely baffled in the whole thing. Where one of the main characters gets on a horse, only to ride about 20 feet and then get off and into the car that everyone else was in. Which, very slowly, had just crashed through a fence. You have to see it to understand.... or not understand.
This is the basic plot: During WWII, Captain Stone and a platoon of American and Finnish soldiers are on a mission to find a bunker held by the Germans. On the way there they come under fire and at the same time run into some German soldiers that seem to be "undead". How is this possible? Their platoon is almost completely killed off apart from a few of them, including Capt. Stone. They move on and run in to another survivor, a Russian soldier. They all try to survive and end up at the bunker they were meant to take out. Once inside, they find out just how the German soldiers became the "undead". All the while, they're finding out that despite them being on different sides of the war.... they all have a common enemy.
I don't think that this movie was meant to be any kind of giant blockbuster, but it has all the earmarks of a great war movie. It's also beautifully shot and feels like a much more epic movie then I think it actually was meant to be. With some more time and a slightly better script, this could have been pretty epic. It seems that the writer and director took several liberties with the story, in favor of just getting it done. It doesn't hurt the overall experience, but it does make some parts seem forced. There are also several logic jumps, but all of them can be forgiven. It's got lots of gun battles, hand to hand combat and Nazi's! My biggest complaint with the whole thing is that the zombies aren't as interested in chewing on human flesh as they are getting in to a fist fight. They also seem to have super human abilities, thanks to their transformation into the undead army they've become. I can look past all that though.
If you have a rainy Saturday afternoon and are looking for something new, but familiar.... then this might be the ticket for you. It's a solid war movie, a solid zombie movie and a decent thrill ride. I don't know that I really ever need to see it again. Not that this is a bad thing. Some movies are meant to take you on a one way trip through a new reality and then drop you off on the other side. Some are like a good song, meant to be played over and over so you can re-listen to your favorite parts. All in all, this movie comes recommended for fans of the zombie and/or Nazi zombie genre. It has likable characters and a good enough story line to kill an hour and a half without feeling like you wasted the time. Not too mention, who doesn't want to shoot some Nazi's in the head?
3 out of 5 stars.
If you like this, perhaps you should check out: 'Dead Snow', 'Day of the Dead' (2008) and 'Oasis of the Zombies' (for an example of an original Nazi zombie movie.... but not a very good one.)