Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dead Rising: Watchtower

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! This shouldn't be confused with the zombie washing tutorial video Dead Rinsing.

Dead Rising: Watchtower – 3 out of 5

I absolutely love the second game in the Dead Rising franchise. The first one works as a concept for me but clunky controls and piss-poor hit detection made me loath the game.  I pretty much invented new swear words after I would get hit by things that were nowhere near me.  However, the second game really hit all the right notes for me and I ended up playing through the story about 4 or 5 times. I just couldn’t get enough of it. So, when I saw Crackle was going to have an adaptation that takes place after the second game but before the third that came out for the latest next gen systems, I was cautiously optimistic. It looked like it had the spirit of the games but I also had to remember that video game adaptations are, almost by definition right now thanks to guys like Uwe Boll, just absolutely horrendous and barely resemble the source material. That being said, Dead Rising: Watchtower isn’t as bad as it probably had the real danger of ending up as.

Dude, don't be so dramatic, you're just being chased by the undead.

Of course there is a clown zombie...or is it zombie
In Oregon, the Federal Emergency Zombie Authority (FEZA) is attempting to quarantine an outbreak of zombies. Online reporter Chase (Jesse Metcalfe) and his camerawoman Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy) are reporting on the events—that appear to be going normally—but when Chase enters a medical tent and sees that the anti-viral drug Zombrex isn’t keeping the virus at bay in those who are infected but haven’t turned suddenly fail and the once controlled outbreak goes completely off the rails, he now must fight and use everything at his disposal as a weapon to survive. Behind the walls of the outbreak, Chase meets up with a mysterious woman with a nasty secret named Crystal (Meghan Ory), a grieving mother named Maggie (Virginia Madsen) and some dastardly bikers who will stop at nothing to kill anyone—living or dead—that get in their way. Meanwhile, outside the wall, Jordan starts to learn that there is much more to this outbreak than what is being let on and the Army might have some involvement…

The Army's motive?  To see everyone get Allstate.

For the most part, Dead Rising: Watchtower isn’t too bad of a film. It starts promising enough and has a little bit of fun with itself. Heck, the strongest thing this film has going for it is the fact that the film really feels like a lot of it was lifted from the games directly as it is constantly throwing in nods and winks and references. One of my favorite aspects was how the film would cut to a news report that was following the events and they had a guest in the form of Frank West, star of the first game and played by the always funny Rob Riggle (even though I always thought West looked more he would be played by Michael Madsen because the character looked so much like him—but since they already got one Madsen it would have been silly to go for another. The Madsens aren’t Pok√©mon!). Riggle really was having some fun with the character and these sequences were a nice break from any potential zombie overload and it kept the film from getting too serious…for the most part, I should say.

I'd watch a whole movie that's all about Rob Riggle as Frank West.

One of the aspects that hurts the overall film, beyond its very low budget and a run time that felt a little too low (maybe Crackle's constant commercial breaks too, but they gots to pay the bills somehow, so I won't complain), was the fact that the longer the film went and the deeper it went into its story the more serious the film took itself. Now, granted, Dead Rising: Watchtower couldn’t be a straight dark comedy and it couldn’t be a straight action-horror feature either because it just wouldn't work as one or the other, it had to be a mix. The film needed a little bit of drama and the story needed some conflict and a bit of insidious behavior from some of the antagonists for the film to work. The games, in my opinion, did a great job of having both the silliness and the serious but movies don’t always work the same. A game can suddenly stop the fun and throw in drama and can make it work because you are invested at a deeper level due to the amount of time spent on playing—movies don’t have that luxury and have to go other routes. 

Hey Meghan Ory, why did you suddenly disappear from Once Upon a Time?
And speaking about Once Upon a Time, the Blue Fairy is also in this movie.
Yes, I watch OUaT.
In case you are wondering, yes, the characters are
vividly and dynamically written...and yes, I'm
being sarcastic.
This feature couldn’t quite get the balance right and the film started to get away from its self-referencing and more lighthearted feel for something a little too dramatic. There was a chance it could have worked but when you’re still cutting back to Frank West cracking wise, a production value that is hard to take seriously at any point (the CG blood was particularly bad and the make-up effects weren’t that memorable) and some of the performances being a little too hammy, the film just couldn’t find that balance and the tone shift comes in very harsh and very noticeably. This also has a secondary adverse effect as it made the film start to feel like it was dragging.

You combined a sword with a shovel?!?  You ruined two perfectly good zombie
killing weapons and made one worthless and unwieldy weapon.

Dead Rising: Watchtower is serviceable and decently entertaining but it does come off like a generic low-budget zombie film in a gigantic sea overflowing with generic low-budget zombie films. It gets to stand out slightly due to the fact it is based on a popular video game (and is actually one of the better adaptations of a game in the last 15 years) and for Rob Riggle’s performance but the rest of it kinda flounders in its cheesy passibleness (which it totes a word). The film is never outright awful and I admittedly found it pretty fun at times but the film spent too much of its time making its nods and winks to the game and taking itself too seriously at the end and not enough time to make itself stand out. Weak acting and low production value can be overlooked if there’s something to look at. I know that sounds harsh and it makes it sound like I hated the film but, in the end, I found it average and decently entertaining.

There's always one zombie dressed like this.  Her mother warned her about possibly
being bit while going out dressed like that.


  1. Dude you need to watch and review The Gift with Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. I saw it last night and it kicked ass.


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