I don’t understand Crackle’s Dead Rising franchise. Capcom built this zany, wild video game universe that’d be perfect for a hybrid experience somewhere between The Warriors and 28 Days Later, yet these movies are generically neutered. References to original content are just lazy winks, while the whole “psychopaths” arc is completely abandoned in favor of a boring Zombrex conspiracy. I was hoping that Dead Rising: Endgame would atone for Watchtower‘s forgettable adaptation, but, unfortunately, new director Pat Williams falls victim to the same dull tricks from Zach Lipovsky’s first attempt.
Jesse Metcalfe once again stars as investigative journalist Chase Carter, who must journey into the heart of East Mission to stop General Lyons (Dennis Haysbert) from killing every Zombrex-using survivor. Since the first film, technology has been developed that releases Zombrex doses through an implanted chip, but Lyons wants to overload the system and use the chips to kill any infected civilians. Chase hopes to expose the General’s deadly plan, which requires stopping the chips from injecting lethal amounts of Zombrex into millions of victims (or some crazy disaster along those lines). You know, just your average story about journalism saving the world from a zombie apocalypse…
Here’s my biggest beef with Dead Rising: Endgame – it feels nothing like the property Capcom created. Why call yourself a Dead Rising movie if all you’re going to use is the Zombrex name? The games were cheeky, off-the-wall horror fun that baked dystopian charm into governmental conspiracies, but Endgame only confirms the bland nature of this unnecessary association. Rob Riggle’s Frank West is nowhere to be found, locations are grimly uncharacteristic, and Capcom’s vibrant sense of fun is completely stripped away. Crackle took the Dead Rising name and gutted all the enriching meatiness that originally hooked video game audiences, replacing the emptiness with brand-friendly zombie generics. Why? I have no idea.
The most Dead Rising-y thing you’ll find in Dead Rising: Endgame is Chase’s sidekick playing Dead Rising 3 in his home. Sure, there’s an inevitable weapon-creation montage based on the building mechanisms that later Dead Rising titles implemented, but that’s not until halfway through Endgame. The first forty-five minutes consist of weak exposition, lots of wandering around in the dark, and mindless jabbering that’s shot without any sense of excitement. This is far from the Dead Rising us Xbox fans know, and shows nothing that horror fans haven’t seen a trillion times over.
Writers Tim Carter and Michael Ferris barely feel like they’re trying here. Chuck Greene (Victor Webster) from Dead Rising 2 makes a quick cameo, which is confirmed when he blurts out the most obvious reference about his daughter. Because saying the name “Chuck” wasn’t enough, coupled with his leather jacket? It’s almost as if the film realizes there’s no meaningful connection between Dead Rising‘s cinematic and gaming universes, so the few tiny nods that exist are horrendously oversold. Chuck pops in for a pretty rad zombie kill (lifting a runner head-first into whirling helicopter blades), but it’s not like that makes up for Crackle’s total abandonment of Dead Rising‘s signature style. It’s merely Chuck killing a zombie in just another paranoid thriller about evil government plans.
Dead Rising: Endgame is a horrible case of misrepresented marketing. The name itself – Dead Rising – implies that Crackle’s sequel will bring the source video games to life. Instead, a character plays one of the games on-screen for all of 30 seconds. Or what about the poster, where posing characters showcase battle-ready faces that tease frantic action? Also a lie. Action escapes a good 85% of the film, as dry dialogue blabbers on and on about how mean-old General Lyons wants to eradicate every last infected soul (which, I mean, can you argue against?). Hell, Billy Zane is teased as a looney doctor type, which he is – for one scene. I mean, there’s a wealth of genre riches available for Crackle to mine from Capcom’s creation, and all they can come up with is political terror…without the terror? Please Crackle, if you continue, bring back the Dead Rising fans want. Leave the generics to the billion other zombie movies released this week alone…
Dead Rising: Endgame gets even further away from what made Capcom's games so entertaining, to the point where "Dead Rising" could even be removed from Endgame's title.