I love that we live in a time when zombies are a mainstream form of entertainment. We now have 3 major networks (AMC, SyFy & CW) have hit shows featuring the undead and a couple more coming down the pipe. The fanboy in me is mildly annoyed that the very thing that kept me a virgin in high school ( Yes, I blame my love for zombies and not my unbearable personality, repulsive odor and excessive body…) is now the same thing that families bound over on Sunday nights. BUT my rationale side would like to believe it’s a good thing for the genre (I hope Colin from Monster Movie App doesn’t read this [That guy has strong feelings about the genre]). Part of the wave of zombies has led to one of my favorite video game franchises (Yes, I play video games still and NO I don’t believe that contributed to my “High School Loneliness”) Dead Rising. The beauty of Dead Rising is it’s all about killing zombies. None of that boring drama and grown men crying about “humanity” and “morals”. No sir! Dead Rising knows what we want and that’s tearing through hordes of zombies in fun and creative ways and that’s just what they deliver. Fortunate for us director Zach Lipovsky gives us just that… and then some lame sub-plot about the government screwing us, but mostly the zombie dismembering mayhem fans of the video game series love.
For those of you out there that care about silly things about like “plot” and “characters” here’s a general run down:
Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) is a journalist reporting from inside a recent government sanctioned zombie quarantine. Because it’s a zombie movie and part of the Obamacare bill made it illegal for film makers to ever do an original zombie story (I got a feeling I should stop believing everything I read on Facebook…) Chase gets locked inside. Of course he hooks up with super attractive survivors (played by Virginia Madsen and Meghan Ory) and together they have to try to fight their way out of the quarantine. Along the way they try to expose a government conspiracy that may be the cause of the recent outbreak. Main characters, sex appeal, and sub-plot that will eventually justify the ongoing series…Yeah I think that’s everything.
One of my favorite aspects of the video game is the weapon building. For those unfamiliar with the video games (read as: People with lives…) Dead Rising allows you to pick pretty much anything up and use it as weapon against the endless hordes of undead. As you level up you gain abilities to fuse certain items together and make totally awesome weapons (ie: car battery + sword= Electrically Charge Sword… science doesn’t play a big part in the game…) that make killing zombies that much fun. Dead Rising: Watchtower totally encompasses this aspect and brings it to the big screen. Lipvosky does a great job of featuring DR’s most beloved aspect without winking too hard at the audience. And we are talk about a man combining a circular saw to a sledgehammer and then going ape-shit with it on some zombies.
Not an easy task, but Lipovsky is all about style over substance and is able to make this look (for the most) fun and fast paced. He doesn’t get bogged down with too much character development or contrived plot. I say this as a compliment. He knows what his source material is and plays right into it. Frankly, it was a breath of fresh air. Zombies (as of late) have lost the “fun” and really this was the only way to go without pissing on what makes the source material so great: Pure Zombie Pandemonium.
Is Dead Rising: Watchtower perfect. No and far from it. Some of the acting is uneven and you will always lose points for CGI blood in my book (I know it’s become more common, but man do I hate it). My biggest gripe with it is the timing. Clocking in at 2 hours is way too long. I know it’s free on Crackle and the ads are how they make that happen, but that last half hour did drag. I knew where the movie was going and not because I played the games (aside from a couple Easter eggs, Watchtower doesn’t really stick to the story). It’s because the story is predictable. I know the point wasn’t to break new ground here, but after 90 minutes it can become a tad bit tiresome.
Zach Lipovsky handle Dead Rising: Watchtower just right. He kept the feel and fun of the game while still building on the story without all the sappy drama. Lipvosky does stray from the source material a bit, but adds enough nods to the game to keep the fans happy. Rob Riggle as Frank West was genius and added the right amount of chuckles in between the zombie mayhem. Jesse Metcalfe does a solid job as the lead, but the real star here is the zombies. As long as they keep them front and center (or them being tore apart with cool weapons that is) the ongoing series should be just as fun.