September 13, 2010

Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun (Review)

Zombrex: Dead 
Rising Sun  (2010)

Director:  Keiji Inafune

2 / 5 zedheads

When I heard that Capcom was coming out with a Dead Rising movie, I naturally expected it to be based on the first video game, which already had a very cinematic tone and scope. Instead, the film we got -- Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun  -- is an approximately 70 minute short film with a new cast of characters. While Zombrex clearly features the hallmarks of the Dead Rising universe (or as much of that universe as can be reproduced on a low-budget production), it has something else in common with the video game series that inspired it. Like the games, the story and pacing  in Zombrex is horribly and painfully flawed. Zombrex comes out of the gate with high ambitions, but I found it consistently hard to endure.

Zombrex takes place in Japan during a zombie outbreak. In the universe of Dead Rising, zombies are slow and sluggish and can be killed with trauma to the head and brain. They transmit infection by biting their victims and infecting them with a blood parasite, but the zombification process can be suppressed with daily injections of a medication called Zombrex. While the zombies are usually easy to avoid, at night the zombies become harder to kill and their eyes glow a bright red.

In this world, two Japanese brothers George (Taiki Yoshida) and Shin (Hiroshi Yazaki) are trying to find a safe place to survive the outbreak, but they are constantly turned away from other safehouses and shelters. George, the younger brother, is also confined to a wheelchair, which limits the pair's mobility. Eventually George and Shin stumble upon what they think is an abandoned warehouse, but in true Dead Rising fashion they have to contend with a trio of homicidal factory workers fixated on killing and torturing George and Shin. Later, an infected nurse named Mary (Sei Ando) enters the warehouse, and her survival depends on finding a shipment of Zombrex to stave off the deadly transformation.

Keiji Inafune is best known as the designer of Mega Man and the producer of the Dead Rising game series. With Zombrex, he ventures into filmmaking. For the most part, given what must have been a short production time and relatively small budget, Zombrex is not a bad looking film. Sure, the zombies look really hokey and most of the action takes place in a very boring warehouse, but this is mostly forgivable. What bothered me, however, was the constant shift in point of view. Half of the film is told literally from George's POV, as in a first person shooter game. You see through his eyes, and everything is filmed in very dull colours and light. The other half of the film is shot with a third-person point of view that recounts the recent pasts of our characters. These third-person segments are quite vibrant and make good use of camera angles. Audiences get a taste of a better movie in these flashback sequences, but they're stuck occupying the head of one of its most uninteresting characters. In the dubbed version of this film, George is an indefatigable whiner; as a result, audiences spend the majority of the film starring through the eyes of a painfully irritating character and looking out at a dull warehouse. Fun times.

It's just a boring movie over all. Because Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun is dubbed rather than subtitled in North America, it's hard to judge the performances of the Japanese actors. I can say, however, that the voice over actors were really irritating. 90% of the dialogue is exposition and internal monologuing, and it gets old really fast. I couldn't even sit through all eight webisodes in one sitting.

While Zombrex stands as an interesting way to promote the Dead Rising universe, as a film it's no better than the majority of low-budget zombie schlock available in the market.

At least Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun is free online and on Xbox Live. If I had to pay money for it, I'd feel cheated. Zombrex can be downloaded in eight webisodes through the Xbox Live Marketplace, or viewed online at