“…did not quite hit the spot…”
Dead Rising: Watchtower is a zombie action horror movie which spins-off from the video game series of the same name. Directed by Zach Lipovsky, best known for 2003’s Leprechaun: Origins, the film takes place between the events of Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 3, and follows the story of online reporter Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe).
Alongside his camerawoman, Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy), Carter is filming at a FEZA (Federal Emergency Zombie Authority) medical camp administering Zombrex – a drug designed to suppress the transformation of infected humans into zombies – within the quarantined area of Oregon. It quickly becomes apparent however that the drug is no longer working, and Carter is forced to fight to survive when he is trapped inside the locked-down quarantine zone. With the help of Crystal O’Rourke (Meghan Ory), another survivor trapped within the walls of the quarantine, Carter soon discovers that not all of the Zombrex drugs have in fact become ineffective. In contact with Jordan, who barely escapes the lock down and reaches the outside world, Carter tries to share this message with public media stations in order to prevent the suspicious General Lyons (Dennis Haysbert) from bombing the city and everyone trapped inside it.
There are numerous twists and turns in this move which attempt to expand on a base which is built out of a clichéd and predictable plotline. Amongst these are the character of Maggie (Virginia Madsen), a troubled mother who we meet having just killed her own infected daughter. Maggie cannot accept her loss and behaves erratically as she searches for her child who she still believes to be alive. Norton (Gary Jones) on the other hand is a doctor outside of the quarantine zone whose role we never quite understand. Jordan initially believes him to be something of a villain, but there is a constant air of mistrust when it comes to this character and the equally shady General Lyons. By the end of the movie we find that there has indeed been a hidden agenda all along, but until the very end of the movie you can never tell for sure who exactly has what motives and who is telling the truth. There is also a setup come the end of the movie for a follow-up, which has recently been announced for a 2016 release.
Whilst all of this action is occurring in and around Oregon, we also see regular news reports on this and previous outbreaks from Susan Collier (Carrie Genzel) and familiar Dead Rising character Frank West (Rob Riggle). West’s character is likely to alienate some fans of the video game series however, as he is portrayed as being rather obnoxious and it is even implied that he might be a hoax. By comparison to the gritty, down-on-his-luck photojournalist created Rob Riggle’s character borders on unrecognisable. A second subplot which later feeds into the main storyline follows a biker gang led by Logan (Aleks Paunovic), who believes himself to have become a king amid the zombie outbreak and seeks to widen his new-found “rule” beyond the quarantine’s walls. Logan and his crew are a much more believable and fitting set of characters to the Dead Rising canon that we know than the Frank West character portrayed alongside them.
The whole of Dead Rising: Watchtower comes in waves when it comes to pace, with one moment being all action followed by another of calm talking so that we can work out the next direction for the plot to go in. These waves are also laced with easter eggs from the video games, so much so in fact that you begin to wonder if you can really call them easter eggs with the number being thrown at you. From plastic heads, to exact replicas of crafted weapons, to direct references to places or events from the games, the whole movie is easter egg central. Whilst it is important that the creators of the movie show that they know where their story has come from, it all comes across very in your face and over the top. Somebody was trying too hard. Even if you can keep up with these, trying to figure out the pace of this film and what exactly the plot is actually doing at any given moment makes for a pretty confusing two-hour watch by the end. The moral of the story it would seem is just because you have loads going on, it doesn’t mean people will stay interested if you don’t give them some clear grounds to stay rooted to as well.
This is the real issue with Dead Rising: Watchtower – it becomes hard to follow and as a result it quickly becomes quite a gruelling watch. Even though it is often predictable, there always feels like there is lots of action for the sake of action, and half thought out plot points placed alongside them which don’t really gel together all that well. The characters are also largely unconvincing, give or take a few exceptions, and this doesn’t help you to keep your focus. Nevertheless, I watched it through to the end, and although I was not blown away by this movie, I would be interested in seeing its follow-up. With a more clearly defined and grounded set of characters along with some clear goals and a focussed path to follow, there is potential for the next movie to work well. If they can just nail the style of humour which the games throw out on top of all of this, it could well be a good one. Dead Rising: Watchtower however did not quite hit the spot, and may leave fans underwhelmed and disappointed.
- Clear references to the video games show that the team behind the movie are aware of the roots of their projects.
- Some good acting from supporting characters helps keep things somewhat together.
- The setup for a second movie at the end of the film does get you interested in where things might be going next.
- Several characters are unconvincing or poorly researched.
- Any more easter eggs and viewers would literally be drowning in them.
- Clichéd and often predictable plotline.
- The pace of the movie varies in irregular waves, making it hard to keep up.
- More grounding is required for the story to keep viewers on track.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.