Video game adaptations have had a shaky history. Sure, the first Mortal Kombat is decent (but the sequel exists and kinda hurts its legacy) but any potential these adaptations could possible hold have been smeared by the likes of the Super Mario Bros. film and basically every movie ever made by Uwe Boll—even the few he’s done that weren’t adapted from games somehow dishonored video game movies. There’s a possibility that one day we may reach the golden era that comic books have finally found but, by judging from Chris’ review of Warcraft, we’re not there yet (but maybe Assassin’s Creed will be the guide we need to usher us into the new age of video game adaptations). A year ago, Crackle debuted an adaptation of the wildly fun Dead Rising franchise. So, on the scale of Mortal Kombat-good to Uwe Boll-god-awful, where does Dead Rising: Watchtower land?
While not exactly a direct adaptation of any of the games, this film takes place in-between the events that occurred in the first and second game and it tells the story of a reporter named Chase Carter (played by Jesse Metcalfe). While covering a story about a quarantine zone in a zombie outbreak area, Chase learns that the anti-zombie drug Zombrex isn’t working anymore and it’s all a part of a cover up that involves the U.S. military.
Dead Rising: Watchtower is definitely not going to go down as one of the great video game but it’s definitely not going to be as unbearable as anything Uwe Boll made. Very early on, the film does a decent job of throwing in a lot of references to the game and there’s even a semblance of the tongue-in-cheek nature of the franchise but one of the major problems that come from this film (beyond the fact that the budget is super small) is the reality that, as the story progresses, the film begins to take itself way too seriously. Had the characters been well-written and developed this might not have been that big of an issue but the fact that most of the characters just aren’t that interesting really harms the film and it really makes this tone that is completely different from the game really stand out.
Still, this film isn’t all bad. Sure, some of the make-up effects aren’t too shabby but there’s some fun zombie-killing action at times and Jesse Metcalfe isn’t too bad as the lead. However, the brightest star in this whole film is the small role that Rob Riggle has. Who is he playing? He’s playing Frank West, the protagonist from the first game. Riggle is a proven funnyman and his moments in this feature really steal the show and I was quickly finding myself wanting to see more of him each and every time he showed up.
Dead Rising: Watchtower can’t escape that it has a budget that is way too small and a tone that can’t quite capture the tone of the game but it’s far better than a lot of video game films we’ve seen in the past. It has a lot of issues that keep it from being even just a decent zombie film but that isn’t to say that this film is something that makes you want to give up on happiness–no, that would be a Neil Breen film. I won’t lie; I had fun watching this one. It has its fair share of moments and is definitely on the higher end of low budget zombie films and infinitely better of a game adaptation than Boll’s abysmal work. Overall, I would categorize the film as serviceable with its entertainment. I wasn’t blown away (except for Rob Riggle’s performance) but I can’t say I was bored either.
Dead Rising: Watchtower is a middle-of-the-road film and deserves its middle-of-the-road score of 1 and a half thumbs out of three.
Rev. Ron is a wannabe movie critic who sometimes spends his free time trying to figure out how to shoot laser beams from his eyes. He also writes a blog where he reviews every movie he watches (including this very film) and you can check out that blog at RevRonMovies.BlogSpot.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@RevRonster) because he craves attention…and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.