Arts

Download, stream or buy on DVD/Blu-ray: Army of The Dead, Initiation, Solos, The Me You Can't See and more...

Army Of The Dead: Dave Bautista as Scott Ward
Damon Smith

FILM OF THE WEEK

ARMY OF THE DEAD (Cert 18, 148 mins, Horror/Action/Adventure, streaming from May 21 exclusively on Netflix)

Starring: Dave Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, Hiroyuki Sanada, Richard Cetrone, Athena Perample.

A ZOMBIE apocalypse decimates Las Vegas in the Nevada desert and the military contains the slavering undead within a ring of steel.

Scott Ward (Dave Baustisa), former leader of mercenary group Las Vengeance, is approached by billionaire Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) to put together a squad capable of stealing 200 million dollars from a casino vault before a US government-sanctioned tactical nuclear strike reduces the gambling capital to rubble.

Flanked by his trusty second-in-command Maria (Ana de la Reguera) and chainsaw-wielding lieutenant Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), Scott leads the incursion into zombie territory. He is unaware that a super-strong and fiercely intelligent zombie king called Zeus (Richard Cetrone) commands the horde with his queen (Athena Perample).

One word aptly sums up director Zack Snyder's approach to filmmaking: overkill.

It is the perfect description for his return to zombieland after 2004's Dawn Of The Dead remake.

This overblown heist caper puts Ocean's 11 in a blender with The Walking Dead and chugs down the bloody conflation in lustrous slow-motion. On-screen body count reaches triple figures in a blitzkrieg of bullets and pyrotechnics before the casino safe has even been cracked.

A large ensemble cast loses chunks of flesh to hungry mouths at regular intervals and a snarling zombie tiger, which once belonged to magician duo Siegfried & Roy, sinks its digital teeth into a boo-hiss villain with whisker-twitching relish.

Gore and glitz overwhelm emotional substance, a final reel reconciliation feels manipulative, but the whoop-inducing fun is, predictably, in the outrageously ambitious action set pieces.

Rating: 3/5
Damon Smith

ALSO RELEASED

INITIATION (Cert 18, 97 mins, Signature Entertainment, Horror/Thriller, available from May 24 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services)

Starring: Bart Johnson, Yancy Butler, Lochlyn Munro, Jon Huertas, Froy Gutierrez.

A CRUEL social media game spirals out of control in this tale of sex, drugs and cyber-bullying. We are in similar territory to Scream and the recent remake of Black Christmas.

As this is a stalk-and-slash thriller for millennials, naturally there are plenty of scenes where instant messages pop up on screen alongside the actors. To make things more distracting, the messages are featured in perspective.

Following the murder of a star athlete in the wake of an assault allegation, a masked killer targets students across the campus of Whiton University. The integral piece of the puzzle is an exclamation mark.

Trying to uncover the truth behind the school's hidden secrets is a band of sorority sisters.

They race against the clock to expose the killer in a shiny mask before they also become victims.

Though the shadow of the Scream franchise loom large over Initiation, sadly it lacks the wit of those Wes Craven classics. The on-screen phone messages, as clever as they are, force us to spend more time reading them than paying close attention to more important matters.

The murders, some with power tools, are pretty graphic, so it's not for the faint of heart.

Writer-director John Berardo reveals the odd flash of brilliance in the third act. However, he needs more of the action, suspense and the humour of the recent Happy Death Day movies to make this really work.

Rating: 2/5
Roger Crow

SERIES / BOX SETS

SOLOS (7 episodes, streaming from May 21 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, Sci-Fi/Drama/Romance)

Solos: Anne Hathaway as Leah

FANTASY anthology series have attracted millions of viewers in recent years with Black Mirror and a revamp of The Twilight Zone proving the genre is more popular than ever.

Amazon Prime Video's new series Solos looks set to give them a run for their money, bolstered by all-star cast including Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Anthony Mackie and Dan Stevens.

This seven-episode sci-fi series sees each character set off on an adventure in an uncertain future. Each instalment examines what it means to be human, arguing that we are connected to others through shared experiences, even in our most isolated moments.

Solos is the brainchild of David Weil, who also created Al Pacino's Amazon TV series Hunters. Weil writes and directs several episodes.

Fellow executive producer Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades Of Grey) and Zach Braff (Scrubs) are among the other directors.

THE ME YOU CAN'T SEE (5 episodes, streaming from May 21 exclusively on Apple TV+, Documentary)

AFTER working on one of the most talked about interviews of the year, Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry have re-teamed for this multi-part documentary series about mental health.

As two of the most high-profile people in the world, the chat show veteran and Duke of Sussex have attracted assorted big names.

Contributors include singer and actress Lady Gaga and Golden Globe-winning thespian Glenn Close, forever remembered as one of the big screen's most unstable characters in 1987 chiller Fatal Attraction.

Among the creative team is Asif Kapadia, one of the brains behind Amy. With the assistance of experts and organisations from around the world, this series attempts to destigmatise the often misunderstood subject of mental health.

TRYING (8 episodes, streaming from May 21 exclusively on Apple TV+, Comedy/Romance)

Trying: Esther Smith as Nikki and Rafe Spall as Jason

SERIES one of writer Andy Wolton's comedy clearly touched a chord with the masses when it debuted a year ago. Trying centres on Jason and Nikki, who were desperate for the one thing they couldn't have: a baby.

Rafe Spall and Esther Smith are back for series two, along with Imelda Staunton and Phil Davis. The second run promises plenty of comedy hurdles as the couple navigates the adoption process.

Following an infidelity bombshell in series one, Oliver Chris and Ophelia Lovibond return as the key protagonists' friends, Freddy and Erica.

In these eight instalments, Nikki and Jason have been approved by the adoption panel but are finding that matching with a child is far trickier than they first imagined.

RAGNAROK – SEASON 2 (8 episodes, streaming from May 27 exclusively on Netflix, Drama/Fantasy/Romance)

Ragnarok: David Stakston as Magne, Bjorn Sundquist as Wotan and Eli Anne Linnestad as Wenche

THE Norwegian-language coming-of-age drama created by Adam Price returns to Netflix this week, delving deeper into Norse mythology to unleash a series of cataclysmic events called a Ragnarok on the fictional town of Edda.

In the first series streamed in 2020, high school student Magne (David Stakston) discovered his connection to thunder god Thor after an epic battle with Vidar (Gisli Orn Gardarsson), father of the powerful Jutul family.

In these eight episodes, the ramifications of that cataclysmic showdown will be felt far and wide as Magne seeks heroic allies to fight with him, shoulder to hammer-wielding shoulder.

Meanwhile, Vidar's son Fjor (Herman Tommeraas) and the rest of the Jutul clan mourn their loss.

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