Dead Rising: Watchtower Movie Review
By: Justin Hopkins
Continuing on our B-Movie journey, and this time into the zombie plagued world of Dead Rising. Kind of gets the double whammy of being a B-Movie and a video game. A game that is actually a real blast to those who have never played. Played through the second game more times then one should, both with Frank and Chuck. So, I was kind of excited to see this one pop up on the suggestion list. Lets jump in and see if it was worth while or another failed game-to-movie release.
The movie starts out, with the zombie infestation already in progress. Getting the zombie herd, boss clown with an ax, and a zombie cop with a gun. With your main character trying to use whatever is laying in the alley to try and fight them off, and when things look there bleakest; you jump back to the start to see how he got to to the alley. Opens up with Chase Carter and his camera woman Jordan. Cutting a story at a site of a suspected zombie outbreak and talking to those who had been infected in previous outbreaks and getting their Zombrex shots. Which fail and kick start the outbreak. An interesting way to get this going. Fans of the game know the importance know the importance of Zombrex, and seeing it fail kind of throws you off guard. Something that was always reliable and now bites matter again. Leaving Chase and Crystal and later, Maggie on the run from zombies and a crazy biker gang. Weaving together compelling stories with plenty of twists and turns and of course, crazy weapon creations. A must for Dead Rising. Great example of foreshadowing and a shock ending to boot. All of which was well done and huge positives.
You can tell the writers and Directors were fans of the Dead Rising Games. A lot of things that occur throughout are shout outs to the games. Such as Lucky Loans, some of the weapons, zombie wearing Chuck Green’s coat and all the conspiracies. The long shot they had of Chase trying to cross the street, and how quickly he is swarmed by zombies shows exactly how it is in the game every time you dare step outside. They make you believe that FEZA is behind this, but rip the rug out from under you and turn things on its head. A big reason this worked, was the magnificent work of one Dennis Haysbert. He is such a good villain. Voice of his just lulls you into a false sense of comfort till the trap is sprung. Couldn’t have gotten a better cast for the role of General Lyons.
Sticking in the vein of casting. I really enjoyed most of them. Meghan Ory blew the part of Crystal away. Victim of the Fortune City outbreak, who grew a thick shell since all of her friends, families and co-workers abandoned her in fear of her turning. Playing both sympathetic and a force to be taken serious due to how resourceful she is. Kicking Chase into gear and kind of leading the way in the early-to-mid parts of the movie. Then you get Alek Paunovic’s Logan. Playing the crazy who is right at home in the zombie filled town. Being the only real crazy boss, he had am important role and he delivered nicely. Keegan Connor Tracy played played a very key role as Jordan. Reporter on the outside. Trying her best to make people listen and send in help. Unaware of the fact she was being played and did enough to where when you get to the end. Are outraged and need to see more.
Before we get to the negatives, lets go over the ending, because it was so good. You are following these characters and they set the stage almost just right for the happy ending, but slowly things start to occur, and Chase finds Jordan’s camera and phone. Truth dawning on him that the military was behind it all along and it ends with the firebombing, and you don’t know what is about to happen now that Watchtower is in affect and what happened to Jordan and it ends without telling you anything! Was so upset till I saw they did make a sequel. I haven’t watched, but am excited to see it. Which kind of tells you how good of a job they did on the ending alone.
Now on to the negatives, which are kind of big, like almost damning big. First, I did enjoy Chase, who was played by Jesse Metcalfe. He was enjoyable. He played a rather modest reporter. He was all for ratings, but he wanted both ratings and desire to do good by the people. Sought out truth and was likable because of that, but feel they messed up by casting a Frank West on top of it. Now, they have had a wide variety of main characters in the game, but the fact is, Frank West is the best of the bunch. They even remade part two to have Frank in it, because of the love the fans have for him. He even came back in part four. The fact they cast him perfectly with Robert Riggle and still just used him as a guy behind a news desk. Breaking up the action with stupid comments. Just feels like a slap in the face to the fans. If they weren’t going to use him as the main. Shouldn’t have had him at all.
Next was the run time. This movie clocked in at a whopping, hour and fifty eight minutes. Which may not sound like much, but for this movie it’s nearly thirty minutes too long. There is quite a bit of filler to pad out the time which ends up just dragging it out. More then a fair bit should have been cut to allow for a faster pace. Whis would have made it so much better.
In the end, despite it’s long run time and misuse of Frank, I am going to suggest watching it. Especially, if you are a fan of the game. Carnage candy that was fun and creative. Villains and heroes that had depth and a wild story with excellent ending save it. Along with a group of people who clearly have played and enjoyed the games. Wanting to craft their own tale, while keeping the spirit of the game alive. They did that quite well.