Dead Rising: Watchtower takes place during a large-scale zombie outbreak. When a mandatory government vaccine fails to stop the infection from spreading, a small band of survivors must evade infection while also pursuing the root of the epidemic, with all signs pointing to a government conspiracy.
“Everything is a weapon!”
I personally tend to find game-to-movie and movie-to-game adaptations very miss and miss affairs. There are some exceptions but, based on my experience, my expectations were low going into this one. To my surprise, as far as adaptations go, Zach Lipovsky’s Dead Rising: Watchtower is a solid reworking, notably thanks to its out-and-out loyalty to the gaming franchise. Fans of the games and avid zombie film fans alike should revel in this one.
Set between Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 3, Watchtower shines a light on some of the uncharted secrets between both games, particularly the appearance of the Zombrex GPS chips that appeared in entry 3. It’s clear that Lipovsky and writer, Tim Carter, really sunk their teeth into the lifeblood of the franchise, providing us with hordes upon hordes of flesh yearning zombies and a plethora of MacGuyverian combo-weapons. The film is also teeming with sneaky references to the game series and savoury cameos ensuring the audience’s eyes remain glued firmly to the screen on the look out for Easter eggs.
The casting choices couldn’t have been better either and it’s obvious that everyone really got their gaming mode on whilst having an absolute blast at the same time. Jesse Metcalfe’s Chase Carter fits right into the Dead Rising universe and he gets to share some keen chemistry with doughty damsel, Megan Ohry, and her rapidly depleting supply of Zombrex shots. Virginia Madsen as a mourning mother out to avenge her daughter’s demise was also a comely addition to the storyline. Another essential mention is big bad biker from Hell, Logan, played by Aleks Paunovic, who is larger than life, both physically and charismatically, making for the perfect video game big boss.
Despite working with a pretty tight wallet, the film has most of the makings of a big buck blockbuster production, particularly in terms of the setting; the rundown ghetto, chock-full of zombies, feels absolutely immense. Lipovsky’s direction also provides incredible visuals and oodles of set action pieces that contribute to the films feeling of urgency and relentlessness. The overblown violence and zombie effects are supreme with one poor old clown’s demise still particularly engrained in my mind. At the same time it was a blast to see all the bloodletting spiked with priceless touches of slapstick humour. That said, the superior humour came in the form of Rob Riggle, who plays the original game’s Frank West, and Carrie Genzel, who plays ever so well off Riggle’s pretentiousness with some of the wittiest, most sarcastic of comebacks ever.
The film closes with more than the odd hint that there’s more to come and I am of the understanding there are plans for a sequel movie or spin-off series so this could very well turn into a lasting franchise. My fingers are certainly crossed for a chance to return to this universe as Dead Rising: Watchtower is by far one of the superior video game adaptations released of late.
Words: Howard Gorman (@HowardGorman)