Rise of the Zombies (2012)

Rise of the Zombies (2012)

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Danny Trejo had just realised what film he was in.
Danny Trejo had just realised what film he was in.

Twitter Plot Summary: Survivors of a zombie apocalypse take refuge on Alcatraz island. Star Trek TNG’s Geordi LaForge tries to find a cure.

Genre: Action/Horror/Thriller

Director: Nick Lyon

Key Cast: Danny Trejo, LeVar Burton, French Stewart, Mariel Hemingway, Ethan Suplee

Five Point Summary:

1. Terrible CGI zombies. This is not a good start.
2. Danny Trejo apparently can’t aim his gun. It’s all in the edit.
3. Modern science – recording findings on a smartphone.
4. The only well directed part of the film, and there is emotional resonance. Glory be.
5. Quick, panic stations! The zombies are coming!

Within the first 60 seconds we’re already exposed to bad CGI zombies, some silly CGI car stunts, and some surprisingly nice zombie effects. This is San Francisco and a virus has turned its denizens into a flesh eating undead horde. A group of survivors, including Machete and Geordi LaForge, take refuge on Alcatraz island during a zombie outbreak. Meanwhile, somewhere else Harry from Third Rock From The Sun infects a monkey with HIV (not like that…) and acts in a whimsical fashion.

There is zero tension to the zombie attacks, less so as they seem to just drop onto their victims almost as if they’re too bored to do so, and the victims just lie under a pile of bodies and die without a struggle. It’s almost as if even the cast wanted to escape from the film at the earliest opportunity. Logic takes a back seat to zombies that can swim from the mainland to Alcatraz and, despite being dead, manage to cross the waters and do exactly what the prison populace was apparently never able to achieve. Thanks to these amazing swimming zombies, the survivors are soon escaping on a raft and wander around mostly aimlessly for the remainder of the film. Not only are the zombies better at crossing water than an olympic swimmer, but they also have the ability to scale the Golden Gate bridge like Spider-Man, and several of them can tip over a car with barely any effort. They’re also confused – are they shamblers or are they runners? Nobody seems to have any idea. As I said – logic takes a back seat. Everybody with a gun is also scarily accurate when it comes to head shots, go figure.

Apparently zombies can now climb up the side of a bridge like Spider-Man. Who knew?
Apparently zombies can now climb up the side of a bridge like Spider-Man. Who knew?

There are a lot of characters thrown at us in a very short space of time. No effort is made to introduce anybody, instead we have to rely on the fact that we recognise the likes of Danny Trejo and LeVar Burton and leave it at that. There are a couple of scientists involved, but ultimately they serve little to no purpose. Everybody else exists as zombie fodder with no other discernible reason for existing beyond that. That would be fine if the film had a purpose, a point to make. There’s no social commentary as in Romero’s zombie-related efforts, no effort to tell a meaningful story. Instead, much like the film as a whole, the characters have no purpose and are ripped apart by the undead at every available opportunity until only a few remain. It’s a bit like a sadistic game show in that respect. Furthermore every scene, every aspect of the story, feels rushed. The script will partially be to blame, but I’m also throwing this at the director too. There’s only one moment within the entire film that has any emotional impact – the characters react to the death of one of their group and then almost instantly we cut and they are driving away almost as if nothing had happened. I get the impression there was a very tight filming schedule and so everybody ran through their scenes in a very workmanlike, George Lucas-esque “just say the line a little bit faster” style. It’s not one to recommend.

Favourite scene: Zombie Danny Trejo. As if you didn’t see that coming.

Quote: “The bottom line is they’re here, and we’re sittin’ here like… er, sittin’ ducks.”

Silly Moment: Geordi LaForge slicing a huge chunk out of his arm to feed his zombie daughter.

Score: 2/5

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