The original Dead Rising film, “Watchtower”, was a good laugh, a B-movie that stuck quite rigidly to the game world it was set in. Sadly, unlike Dead Rising’s second game, its second movie was a step down, and its B-movie charm all but gone and replaced with… I don’t know, dullness. I think they got away with it as a one off, but as they try to expand this live-action spin-off world I think they forgot what made the first work. More info? Let’s look deeper!
In the zombie-infested quarantined zone of East Mission City, investigative reporter Chase Carter must stop a secret government conspiracy which, though seemingly aimed at ending the country’s zombie epidemic, will also kill millions of innocent civilians…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
He’s back! … Hooray, I guess…?
The overarching plot isn’t actually that bad. It follows on from “Watchtower” and sees General Lyons (Dennis Haysbert) continue through with his plan to chip everyone who’s carrying the zombie virus, as it turns out with the end goal of then overdosing them and killing everyone with the virus and thus wiping it out entirely. Good for humanity, not so good for the 1.5 million people who are infected but dealing with it. Meanwhile Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) is still convinced his old partner Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy) is still alive somewhere and has been tracking Lyons and his movements for a few years now, with the help of his now-girlfriend Sandra (Marie Averopoulos), who is a hacker all of a sudden because the script they wrote called for it. The trio, along with others I’ll get to, head to a facility in the middle of the oddly-no-longer-fire-bombed zombie city that can shut the project down and save all those innocent people, a place that also coincidentally turns out to be the lab where Jordan was being kept. So, as a set up, it works perfectly fine. Raised stakes and all that jazz.
The core actors are fine as well, I’ll once again point out that this is relatively low budget so I’m not saying Jesse Metcalfe will wow you with his range, but he’s fine. Ian Tracey as disgraced Phenotrans employee George Hancock was a great blatant villain throughout the film, which was probably a bad thing because his turning out to be a bad guy was supposed to be a twist, but there you go. Apparently evil scientist Leo Rand (Billy Zane) was trying to use the zombie virus’ reanimation properties to create an immortality drug, and that’s what Hancock was after. Again, not a bad twist on the basic premise. I’ll also mention how the direction was much better as well, no crap POV shots really stood out to make the experience more… bearable, though you could say less charmingly low-budget.
Haha, he’s so cool and laidback and AWESOME! ….. ….. ?
There were some seriously misjudged characters and moments here, probably based on the creator’s now-proven-false idea of this turning into a film franchise. General Lyons gets no comeuppance, a new CEO character called Susan Ingot (Camille Sullivan) says some shady things to set up later plots and therefore also gets no comeuppance and wastes our time, and Jessica Harmon plays Jill Eikland, a female reporter who is on the outside of the zombie city and sets up a big case… that goes nowhere because again, this isn’t an episode of a TV series… Chase’s “old friend” Garth (Patrick Sabongui) has a complete character arc, but it’s one that’s so thin and caricature-ish that I wanted to mention it here, because… man it was bad. It seriously felt like a teenager writing a character for himself, complete with “cool lines”, “bad ass scenes” and a zombified death so he can wear the cool make-up. Terrible.
Finally I’ll also re-mention Sandra now having high-level computer skills and a military background despite just being a regular woman whose family abandoned due to her having the virus in the last film. Plus, and I hate saying stuff like this, but Marie Avgeropoulos is definitely the weakest in the acting department during this film, she’s a proper B-movie actor among actors that while aren’t very good are at least serviceable (with one or two exceptions, Dennis Haysbert is always great!)
Two pictures in a row feature Hancock in the background or off to one side… kind of fitting, given that’s pretty much what his role was…
Around the middle of the film we’re introduced to some running zombies, which always disappointing. They’re less scary and more actiony, which makes this whole film less zombie survival and more just generic action movie with running monsters. There is also the fact that they use CG for a lot of the gore instead of more practical effects like they did last time, which is also a shame, especially as low budget CGI always comes off as worse compared to low budget practical effects.
The ending sees Chase, Sandra and Jordan escape on a helicopter piloted apparently by Dead Rising 2’s protagonist Chuck Greene (played by Victor Webster), but he looks literally nothing like him, so… that didn’t work at all. Also Hancock is killed by an agent (who we see several times throughout the film but that goes nowhere…) and might have taken the immortality drug, but, again, this is it so that’s not going to be resolved either…It’s a wholly unsatisfying film in that regard…
Let’s end with a zombie… that’s mostly off screen… Oh well!
Dead Rising: Endgame is a disappointing affair, especially given its title implies some sort of end, but all we get is a movie riddled with open ended storylines and characters that will now, seemingly, be forever unresolved. Throw in some bad characters and poor CGI and the film in general feels like it tried to “escape” from its B-Movie charm and become more mainstream, which was a big mistake because frankly the cast and plot isn’t that good… Want to watch a Dead Rising film? Just watch the first one and just ignore the one or two plot threads that are left at the end of it, its better than a whole film of nothing but set up!