Army of the Dead can be seriously blurry in places. Let's say up front: it's not your television, and there's not a 'fix' for it. You won't be able to tweak and tinker with the settings on your setup to get the desired result. Unfortunately for viewers not expecting such a unique style, the reason why Army of the Dead looks so out-of-focus and blurry at times is because of creative choices as well as one decision thrust upon the team after production has wrapped.
Below, we'll breakdown the specifics and technicalities on why Army of the Dead is blurry - though you'll have to get used to it if you've paused the movie and gone searching for why it looks the way it does.
Why is Army of the Dead so blurry?
First and foremost, some scenes have a blurry, dreamlike quality to them because of Zack Snyder’s use of the Canon 50mm f/.0.95 lens, nicknamed the Canon Dream Lens, a relatively obscure piece of equipment developed in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s.
Snyder, who also acted as cinematographer on Army of the Dead, specifically utilized the full-frame Rangefinder lenses, which imbues the footage with an almost ethereal overlay (thanks to YM Cinema (opens in new tab)) and has an incredibly shallow focus.
As Snyder explains in the Army of the Dead documentary short on Netflix, he also chose not to use a 'stop' on any of the camera lens. They typically stop the lens being overwhelmed by light sources to create a more focused shot that doesn't overload the senses. That would also go some way to explaining the 'blur' effect.
It’s also a camera and technique used in Zack Snyder’s Justice League in the Knightmare sequence. It remains to be seen whether the camera will become a trademark of Snyder’s, though he’s certainly getting some use out of the old kit modified and adapted for modern-day cameras. It’s rarely used in modern cinema, which is why it stands out so much in Army of the Dead. But, in short, the blur is primarily there for artistic purposes and because of Snyder's choice of kit as a cinematographer.
Another reason, though, why some group shots are so blurry is because of the unfortunately unique situation surrounding Tig Notaro and her character, Marianne Peters.
Originally, Chris D’Elia was set to appear in the film, but he was replaced by Notaro following sexual misconduct allegations. Notaro, best known for appearing in Star Trek Discovery, was then filmed completely separately on a different green screen-filled set. Her scenes were then digitally inserted into the already-shot movie.
To mask the uncanny look that can sometimes be an issue with CGI, Peters is out-of-focus or blurry in some scenes. For her trouble, Snyder gifted her – according to an interview with New Yorker magazine (via Vulture (opens in new tab)) – an ‘Oscar’ for Best Out-of-Focus actor.
There you have it. Panic over. It may take some getting used to – but at least you’re not to blame for some of the more blurtastic moments in Army of the Dead. For more from Zack Snyder's new Netflix movie, check out our spoiler-filled Army of the Dead ending explainer, as well as a focus on what's coming instead of Army of the Dead 2.
Looking for something else to watch after Army of the Dead? Make sure to check out the best Netflix movies streaming right now.