Who cares about these people unless they’re eating other people?
A weeks ago I wrote an article about how there were no well received films based on computer games (click here for that article) and I decided at that point to review the next film that came out that was based on a game, just to see if anyone was improving. That lead me nicely onto “Dead Rising : Watchtower”.
Now, the thing to remember about me and Dead Rising is that whilst I have played the games, or precisely, the second one, I was not a fan at all. I found Dead Rising 2 to be one of the least fun games that I have ever played and after I let a friend borrow it, I didn’t ever ask for it back. Whilst there was a main storyline, you weren’t forced to go through that storyline but there wasn’t a true open world feeling as the game ended after 72 in game hours (if my memory serves me correctly).
The game wasn’t even difficult either, it wasn’t a challenge and it just wasn’t enjoyable, and the only reason I reviewed this was based on the aforementioned look at movies based on computer games.
I also promise that this will be the last zombie film I review for a while. I know that I have reviewed more zombie films than any other type of film and it’s frustrating me, so this will be the last zombie related film that I review for at least three months, that is unless I see something that is astonishingly amazing, or horrendously bad.
Chase (Metcalfe) is a news reporter trying to get first hand accounts of a zombie outbreak. The outbreak has been kept under control via a drug known as Zombrex, but whilst filming Chase witnesses several patients being given their regular dose and it having no effect. They all start turning and Chase barely makes it out alive before being rescued by Crystal (Ory). The two had previously clashed as Crystal thought Chase was leaching off of the misery of those infected.
As they are trying to escape they encounter grief stricken mother, Maggie (Madsen) but they soon realise that the area has been quarantined off by the military, although Chase’s colleague Jordan (Tracy) manages to make it out at the very last second. Whilst Chase and the group are trying to survive not only the zombies but also a group of humans that have decided that they own the quarantined area, Jordan is uncovering a conspiracy of the zombrex medication being altered to no longer be effective.
After realising that Crystal was infact infected as well, Chase decides to record and broadcast an experiment to the news in which Crystal uses to new batch of zombrex when her medication is needed, and if it doesn’t work, use her own personal stash from her medication wallet. The experiment goes as expected and reveals that the new batch of zombrex is completely ineffective, but how will the military and the government respond to this being shown on the news?
So, is it as bad as other films based on computer games?
I’m not going to lie, I am genuinely surprised that I am writing this but I actually kind of liked it. I don’t get many pleasant surprises when watching films to review but I am pleased to say that this was an exception.
It’s not entirely positive though and I am going to start with the few negatives and arguably the thing that ruined it for me, the character of Frank West. Frank is a character that’s in the game (more on that later) but his character in the film is nothing like the game character. He character in the film is intolerable as he provides a panel style role on a news station, but everything he says it an attempt at comic relief from the film-makers and it just fails miserable. Every time he is on the screen I actually felt like turning it off, although at least the main news reader quickly grew tired of his crap as well.
It would class the character in the group of those characters that almost single handedly ruin the films. For example, the remake of War of the Worlds was a reasonable film in my opinion, but Dakota Fanning’s performance and character ruined the movie for me. She is a terrible actress at the best of times and you can always tell that she thinks that she is amazing, and yet she ruins virtually every film she is in. The only film I have ever seen where she wasn’t terrible was Push, but even then she was easily the least capable and competent character in it.
This isn’t to say that he isn’t played well be Rob Riggle. Riggle does an amazing job playing the intolerable arsehole, but the character is just awful.
I’m not going to lie, this film almost lost me within the very first scene as Chase is cornered by two zombes. I say cornered, both of them were several metres away and moving very slowly. There were various methods and directions in which he could escape, but he just stands there looking terrified. Fortunately this is just a one off but I almost turned it off right there and then.
My only other negative really is that the main antagonist is just not very threatening, engaging or even two dimension. The best antagonists in films are the ones where they have bad intentions but you can understand the reasons behind it. For example, in the Star Trek remake in 2009 the main bad guy, Nero, is excellent because although he’s hell bent on destroying all of humanity, it’s because he lost his family due to a supernova, something which Starfleet had agreed to help with but didn’t act in time. You understand why Nero wanted revenge, making him an appealing antagonist.
The antagonist in Dead Rising : Watchtower is just there, that’s the only thing I can really say about him. He’s not a great antagonist, hell, he’s not even a good antagonist. I couldn’t even recall the antagonist’s name, which is never a good thing. I never once felt like he was going to win and that’s never a good thing for a film.
So enough of the negatives and the first positive I am going to focus on is that despite not being a fan of the games, I am highly pleased that a film that is based on a game actually had relevance to the game. There are many aspects from the games that are used in the film and I really like that. This is right from the obvious things such as the name of a character being used, right to the characters taking two random objects to create a new weapon. How often do you get to see a a chainsaw attached to a boat oar or a machete attached to what appears to be a javelin? It was my favourite aspect of the games and it was nice that the film used that aspect.
The news reports, other than the annoying presence of Frank, were quite entertaining because much like the film “Gone Girl”, it shows that the news stations are prepared and willing to change their stance so easily with the flimsiest of evidence. They are prepared to broadcast anything that they believe will get the ratings in, or to fit their agenda, and that works well in Watchtower (I’m just going to simply call it that now as it’s easier).
It is a true reflection of real life and it’s not the only example of this, with another being how quickly it turns into a free-for-all when the zombie outbreak starts. People who were previously nice and friendly to each other and are suddenly hitting each other to avoid being the next zombie meal.
I’m going to end this relatively short review by talking about arguably my favourite moment lasted only a few seconds. The screen focuses to a man that has become a member of the undead and you realise that he is munching something. He has one of those harnesses on where he carries a baby against his chest, and when he turned his baby was still in the harness. He then uses the baby like a snack-pack right beneath his chin and I have never seen anything like that a film. You never see a baby eaten by a zombie and it was something new. It’s scary in a way because you realise that that child had precisely no chance of surviving.
I love when the films offer something new and you may have noticed in recent reviews that I have been talking about clichés in films, but I couldn’t see one in this film. It was one of the more unique zombie films I’ve ever seen, and for that I applaud it.
This was actually a reasonable surprise. I was expecting that it would be terrible and it was a pleasant surprise that it was fairly enjoyable. That however is not to say it’s a great film, there are some fundamental flaws but it is one of the better zombie films that I have seen in recent years, not that that’s saying much
I’m not sure if this will ever get a wide release as it’s only been released on Crackle at the time of watching, but if you’re a fan of the games then I think that you will be reasonably pleased. There are few things better for a fan of computer games when it’s converted to a film and it’s done well, although it doesn’t happen very often at all.