Twitter Plot Summary: Dolph Lundgren has to find a girl and avoid being eaten by zombies. All in a day’s work.
Five Point Summary:
1. They’re terrible military guys – they last five minutes in combat.
2. Has she been crying or is the mascara down her face a fashion choice?
3. He’s wearing spectacles!
4. Dolph Lundgren, tied to a lamp post.
5. Robots killing zombies. It’s clear why nobody has done this before.
Ahh, a modern era zombie film. Let’s face it, there have arguably been no decent zombie features since Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead reboot in 2004. So does Battle of the Damned, a starring feature for the very tall action movie legend Dolph Lundgren, come close to being zombie goodness? You’ve surely answered your own question already. There is no chance of Lundgren’s action movies being anything more than idle time killers, and Battle of the Damned only just about earns that distinction.
Lundgren plays the rather superbly named Max Gatling, a mercenary type who is paid a large amount of money by a rich criminal chap to head into a quarantined city to rescue criminal chap’s daughter. There are thousands of zombies threatening their escape plans, which are also put on emergency footing due to the imminent carpet bombing that the city is due to receive any day. Luckily for us, there is still sufficient time to engage in unnecessary melodrama
You would expect this to be an action packed affair, a cavalcade of zombies being slaughtered primarily at the hands of Dolph Lundgren. Except it really isn’t. There are brief moments where good ideas threaten to break through the surface, such as Gatling having to fend off a bunch of zombies whilst chained to a lamppost – although admittedly it suffers from being filmed on such a low budget you can barely see anything. There’s also the hint of a director who vaguely knows what he’s doing, a shot of silhouetted zombies running down a corridor towards the camera, or their assault on one character seen only in the shadows on a wall behind them aren’t that bad at all, but those moments are outshadowed by tens of other shots that just don’t cut it.
And yet again, to call them zombies is the greatest offence of them all. They’re technically undead and have a craving for living flesh, but they look awful and can be dispatched with a slice of their throat rather than the traditional destroying of the brain motif.
Rather hilariously, a small army of robots are introduced – realised in very bad CGI, of course – with the intention of wiping out the zombie hordes. Put it this way, by the time Gatling and the ragtag group of survivors start making their way to the rescue point, it’s pretty clear most of them will probably die. If Gatling’s former team of hardened military men can’t survive, then what hope do they have? Just one of a number of logical inconsistencies that plague Battle of the Damned.
There are Dutch angles aplenty and a bleached colour palette, often used to hide the lack of effects budget – both practical and computer generated. There’s no hiding from the acting, which is generally woeful. Lundgren would be best served playing his role along a similar line to his character Gunnar Jensen from The Expendables, but instead gets to display almost no emotion and stare at things. A lot.
If nothing else, Battle of the Damned does at least feature an aging action star who has to, on occasion, wear reading spectacles. This angle is sadly underused, limited to a single scene that is all the better for the fact nobody draws attention to Gatling’s declining visual acuity. Instead we get to watch a lot of people running around abandoned warehouses and disused buildings. Hardly what you would call riveting entertainment.