'Army of the Dead' arrives on Netflix shortly and we got to talk to its director - the legendary Zack Snyder - and two of the stars ahead of its release.
Snyder earned major praise from fans earlier this year for his re-cut of 'Justice League'. While the director is renowned for his work with DC and Warners., 'Army of the Dead' takes him back to his roots.
Zack Snyder's career kicked off with 'Dawn of the Dead' in 2004 and he described making 'Army' as "some kind of mythological circle" and a "cathartic journey."
He had hoped to work on the project years ago and said "this idea had nagged at me and wouldn't go away."
Speaking of the movie's links to 'Dawn' and the zombie genre more generally, Zack Snyder said: "I learned and basically cut my teeth cinematically and in my career doing 'Dawn of the Dead', and I’ve always been a fan of the Romero films for their social commentary, and their ground-breaking use of horror and genre as a way of holding a mirror up to us, our own society and us as a species. I think that what I owe to George and to his films is that lesson.
"What I learned on 'Dawn' and what intrigued me and what led me to this movie was this deconstruction of genre and the use of genre and genre tropes in creating this world. When I was making this movie, I was really interested in how the tropes of genre work and what we will accept from genre in this kind of setting, and how far we'll go with it. How far can you bend it before it breaks, and that was really the fun for me in making this movie.
"I think that zombie movies work best when they’re showing us something about ourselves, because in a zombie film, the monster is us, except without our humanity. So it’s incredibly watchable and interesting in that way."
Snyder described having a great time making the movie, noting: "I do like to have fun on set. I like to tell people if you can’t have fun making a movie, there’s no hope for you. We're pretending to do these things, like you're not actually shooting a gun, it's a fake gun, you're gonna fall down, we're going to put some ketchup on you. It's like literally ridiculous. It's not brain surgery… We goofed around quite a bit."
The star of 'Army of the Dead' Dave Bautista spoke about shooting the more serious elements and scenes of the movie saying: "I'm not like a method actor or anything so I don't get stuck in moments like that, or I don't put myself in bad moods and stay in bad moods.
"For particular scenes where I have to be very emotional, it's almost therapeutic because I draw from real life experiences so it's almost like dumping out some baggage. I ask for scenes that make people see me in a different light. I want people to see my full range as an actor."
Speaking further about his character Scott and acting career, he says: "For me when I read the script, and when I watch the film, I think the real heartbeat of it is in the redemption story that Scott just really wants to redeem himself and connect with his daughter. That's what it's all about for him.
"I need people to see that I'm not just a one-note actor. I can do much more than be Drax [of 'Guardians of the Galaxy'] or be the big, scary guy. I can actually be a father looking to redeem himself with his daughter, a father who's carrying some baggage, some pain, who's not invincible. I don't want to be the invincible action hero. I want to be the action hero that people can relate to and empathise with and root for."
Speaking of working with Snyder, he added: "Working with Zack was even more of an education than I was hoping for. I'd wanted to work with him for years, before I even met him. Watching him work and seeing his process, I learned a lot from him. The biggest thing I took away was a whole new level of love and respect for him as a person and as a filmmaker. It was an incredible experience and something that I can't put a price on."
Regarding how well the ensemble cast of 'Army of the Dead' works, Dave Bautista said it was "really luck of the draw. We happened to work really well together and everybody was so different and diverse in their performance and their background. We just really lucked out, it could have gone the other way and been a huge disaster.
"We had a lot of freedom with no tight reins so everybody just got to be very flexible and malleable and bounce off one another, and I think that Zack was really great about capturing people's strengths and making sure that everyone had their moment to shine."
Among the ensemble was comedian Tig Notaro, whose scenes were actually added in post production after she replaced Chris D'Elia, who was cut from the film due to sexual misconduct allegations.
She told us: "I told Zack that I had concerns that I was replacing a very big person and energy and male comedian. I just didn't understand how I was going to do that and he just didn't seem to have the slightest concern. He just said, we're hiring you to do what you do, so do that. And I was like OK, if you feel confident, then that gives me confidence."
Tig described her character Marian Peters as "a heightened version of me, if I were a scrappy helicopter pilot. If I did feel like $2 million was enough to fly into hell, I feel like I wouldn't be a far cry from Peters."
Speaking of being added in post-production, she said: "I had a blast. My experience was a very scaled down crew and it was me just alone with a green screen. It could sound really almost like a nightmare, but it was really fun. I hope Zack feels the same way but I feel like we really connected and had a blast."
'Army of the Dead' is streaming on Netflix from 21st May.