Dawn of the Dead Vs. Army of the Dead: Which Is The Better Zack Snyder Zombie Film?

A picture of Dave Bautista from _Army of the Dead_ and the cast of _Dawn of the Dead._

Some of the zombies in Army of the Dead.

Man, I love the zombie genre.

I grew up watching The Walking Dead, played The Last Of Us game series, and recently, have spent several hours watching both the Netflix original film, Army of the Dead, and the 2004 remake of the classic George Romero film, Dawn of the Dead.

But from these re-watches, I kept thinking – which, out of the two Zack Snyder zombie movies, is the better one? Which one that slightly edges out the other? And that’s what we’ll be taking a look at today.

A casino in Army of the Dead.

Plot Of The Film

Army of the Dead’s Plot

A group of former mercenaries decide to risk it all and perform a heist into one of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas, all while a zombie outbreak is occurring, putting their lives on the line.

Dawn of the Dead’s Plot

During a zombie outbreak, a group of survivors bands together to take refuge in an upscale shopping mall to try and stay safe when nowhere else seems to be.

Which Movie’s Plot Is Better?

Look, both of these, individually, have some interesting plots. I like Dawn of the Dead because feels a lot more like that classic style of zombie movie, where we’re watching a normal group of survivors try and outlive this horrible zombie outbreak. It's a story with characters that we can relate to.

However, I do feel that Army of the Dead edges out Dawn of the Dead in terms of plot. While Dawn of the Dead is scary in its own right, considering they’re stuck in this one location with nowhere to go. But in terms of scale, there’s so much going on with the plot of Army of the Dead. From the heist elements to the action, and even to the actual functioning army of zombies that they need to plan against – it’s an intense battle that I don’t think Dawn of the Dead could beat.

Winner: Army of the Dead.

The characters of Dawn of the Dead.

The Characters

Dawn of the Dead’s Characters

A normal group of everyday people, from couples to normal people, all trying to survive. Ty Burrell, Jake Weber, Sarah Polley, and more lead this cast.

Army of the Dead’s Characters

A group with individualized skills, such as lock-picking, weaponry, and more, come together to open a high-tech vault. The cast of Army of the Dead includes Dave Bautista, Tig Notaro, Ella Purnell, and more.

Which Movie’s Characters Are Better?

I’ll always believe that the characters in Army of the Dead definitely have more stories to tell. That’s why there are prequels (including Army of Thieves) now being developed for Netflix. However, I have to give this section to Dawn of the Dead’s characters.

While the characters of Army of the Dead are interesting, we don’t really get to know them, and with their skills and life experiences, they're pretty outside the norm from everyday life that it’s hard to relate. However, in Dawn of the Dead, we get to follow a normal group of people, all with their own personalities and interests, who are just trying to survive.

In terms of relatability, I know that when I watch Dawn of the Dead, I feel a whole lot worse for the characters there than Army, because if a situation like this were to happen in real life, we’d be exactly like them.

Winner: Dawn of the Dead

The survivors on top of the mall in Dawn of the Dead.

Use Of Setting

Dawn of the Dead’s Setting

The bulk of Dawn of the Dead takes place in an upscale shopping mall in Milwaukee.

Army of the Dead’s Setting

Army of the Dead's zombie setting is all of Las Vegas, which has been walled off to keep the outbreak contained.

Which Movie’s Setting Is Better?

You know, at face value, you’d think I’d say Army of the Dead because we get to explore all of Las Vegas. We get to see casinos fall apart, and wonderful landscapes of a decrepit city – even the opening shot with all of those cargo holders being used to keep the zombies inside – that’s super creative and adds to the setting.

But deep down in my heart, I know this win belongs to Dawn of the Dead. Why? Because somehow, someway, Zack Snyder is able to do so much with this one location. While in Army of the Dead we move from place to place, in Dawn of the Dead, a good portion of this film is all in this one mall, and the amount of gore, action, and horror that takes place is insane. It’s impressive, visually and mentally - I’m still impressed even now.

Winner: Dawn of the Dead.

Dave Bautista fighting a zombie in Army of the Dead.

Overall Action Scenes

Dawn of the Dead’s Action Scenes

There's plenty of classic gory horror, and great use of surroundings with the shopping mall.

Army of the Dead’s Action Scenes

It almost feels like a war, to an extent. There’s a lot of gunfire, and some super creative deaths in terms of who dies where.

Which Movies Action Scenes Are Better?

Look, I’m always going to have a special place in my heart for classic, gory zombie kills. Like I said before, I grew up watching The Walking Dead, and I’m looking forward to its final season. That stuff never gets old, whether that be a shot to the head, a knife to the chest, or whatever else, even using a chainsaw. And that’s what Dawn of the Dead has.

The action is fun and there are plenty of awesome moments, like near the very end when they all begin to navigate the city. The whole entire sequence is insane and a mess and I love how crazy it is. But I’m sorry – I have to give this one to Army of the Dead.

The action scenes in Army of the Dead are amazingly fun. I mean, do you remember that opening sequence? It was perfect. Plus, there are some intense moments with the Alpha zombies in Army of the Dead, where they fight back. They’re not just mindless eateries like most zombies – they have a plan and will kill to succeed, which requires creative ways of killing. Army of the Dead accomplishes that and more.

Winner: Army of the Dead.

One of the Alpha Zombies in Army of the Dead.

The Creativeness Of The Zombies

Dawn of the Dead’s Zombies

Dawn of the Dead delivers your standard, normal zombies. They'll hunt you down and run to kill you and tear you apart.

Army of the Dead’s Zombies

For the most part, Army of the Dead features normal zombies want to feast on flesh, but there are several others who are considered Alphas. They are sentient and run the zombie army.

Which Movie’s Zombies Are Better?

Yeah, I’m going to just get into this – Army of the Dead wins this by a longshot.

Dawn of the Dead’s zombies will always remain a classic for a reason – it’s the zombies we all know about, what we grew up expecting in a normal zombie. They’re quick, dangerous, and will kill you because all they know is one thing – hunger, and your flesh can satisfy that.

But Army of the Dead takes this and spins it around, saying ‘what if zombies could actually think?’ And that’s why the zombies in Army of the Dead are utterly terrifying.

I mean, you have the normal zombies called Shamblers, that just want to eat, but then there are the Alphas, the ones that can control the Shamblers and get them to do their bidding, the ones who want to eat you but will plan it out perfectly so they will come on top.

Just thinking about that is horrifying, and yet, I can’t help but smile at the most creative use of zombies I think I’ve seen thus far. And don't even get me started on zombie sex.

Winner: Army of the Dead.

Some of the cast from Army of the Dead.

Which Is The Better Zombie Film?

With a three-to-two score, Army of the Dead takes this one as the better Zack Snyder zombie film.

That isn’t to say that Dawn of the Dead still isn’t a fantastic zombie film as well – trust me, it is. It’s still one of my favorites to this day.

However, there’s just something about Army of the Dead that makes me want to re-watch it more, from the creativity of its use of zombies to the storyline of trying to get money before the zombies get to them, and the absolute crazy action scenes. It’s an all-around adventure that deserves more praise.

I will always love zombie films and post-apocalyptic movies, but I have to add Army of the Dead to that list too now.

Zack Snyder’s Netflix film found a way to reinvent the zombie genre again, giving them a whole new layer of terrifying features, and with how many prequels are planned to come out soon regarding the characters, I know that we’re going to get a lot more of this universe. And to that, I say bring it on. Now, all we need is an Army of the Dead 2.

This poll is no longer available.

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.