Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Dead Rising: Endgame

Cast: Jesse Metcalfe, Keegan Connor Tracy, Dennis Haysbert, Marie Avgeropoulos, and Billy Zane

Director: Pat Williams

96 minutes (18) 2016
Widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Manga DVD Region 2

Rating: 7/10
Review by Tony Lee

Unless it has something like the quirky novelty of Pontypool, and/ or the impressive scale of WWZ, any new zombie picture is lacking appeal. Zombie slayers are popular like serial killers but without a guilty protagonist syndrome of anti-heroism. In the currency of safe aggression/ first-person-shooter games, beheading the undead is practically a victimless crime. Since the world seems doomed and we are all going to die soon of post-millennial hypochondria, is zombie-mania brain poison or apocalyptic dream candy?

Comedy that is played commendably straight distinguished Zach Lipovsky’s Dead Rising: Watchtower (2015) from the subgenre’s hordes. Based upon a videogame, this movie is comicbook fare, and features Dennis Haysbert rather typecast as a US army leader who preps a nondescript city for zombicidal fire-bombing. The hero is a frustrated TV reporter (Jesse Metcalfe), while an urban survivor (Megan Ory), adds stacks to the body-count of sinister droolers, and Virginia Madsen (the heroine of Candyman) is reduced to making sandwiches in the quarantined area.

Follow-up action-thriller Dead Rising: Endgame offers more of the same, set two years after the outbreak is contained by the guarded walls of a quarantined area. Chase Carter (Metcalfe) is after another handy-cam scoop, and his snooping exposes a military scheme involving General Lyons (Haysbert) and a secret project called ‘Afterlife’. With a leisurely countdown to mega-deaths, the heroes face additional threats from army bad guys and a bunch of corporate security goons. Pat Williams makes his feature debut after a couple of decades of directing TV (including sci-fi shows Continuum and Flash Gordon), so this is a picture in safe hands, and it achieves its ambitions of B-movie status almost effortlessly.

Zombies in the movie’s second half are faster and crazier, from a new strain of the virus, than the undead seen in Watchtower, and Williams orchestrates an excellent mix of gore and stunts with a few inventive kills by the makeshift weapons - which are a signature of this franchise. The obligatory computer-hack takes long enough for the finale to get very nasty in the mad doctor’s lab, so even the medley of messed-up zombie clich├ęs is hugely enjoyable viewing, complete with a zombie-decapitation by the rotors of a helicopter. 

Dead Rising certainly makes a fine double-bill for Halloween celebrations!

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