There are times when writing movie reviews can be a challenging process. Granted, there are cases when it's downright easy. In the case of a truly awful movie, for example, you can write pretty much whatever you want. Hell, you don’t even really need to talk about the movie if you don’t want to. You can wax poetic about inside jokes, tell childhood stories or just make something up.
A great zombie film review can be equally enjoyable to write. Like cheering for your favorite team, it just comes easy.
Then there are those movies that fall somewhere in the middle. I think of them as “meh” movies. The spectrum of “meh” is far and wide. They're nowhere close to being good enough to recommend and they don’t have any memorable bad qualities worth mentioning either. They steal an hour or two from your life and leave you struggling to remember any details the next day. They are two star movies (at best) which is the only easy out for a movie reviewer.
Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis falls somewhere towards the bottom of that “meh” category. If “meh” was a school grade, it would be a “meh minus” with a teacher’s note of “needs to try harder”.
The film stars Peter Coyote as the evil…. wait for it… Uncle Charles. How Peter Coyote ended up in this film is anyone’s guess. The star power he brings to Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis is overshadowed by the bizarre facial expression he holds throughout the movie. Seriously. Did the director want him to look that way or did Mr Coyote decide to the character of Uncle Charles should have a strange mouth infliction? One may never know.
"Um, Mr. Coyote... is your Bell's Palsy flaring up?"
At any rate, Uncle Charles travels to the remains of Chernobyl to retrieve the last 6 drums of Trioxin 5. Return of the Living Dead purists will recognize the numbering for Trioxin has changed since the original. It seems that Uncle Charles and his employer, Hybra-Tech, want to use Trioxin 5 to reanimate the dead for military purposes.
Uncle Charles is, in fact, an uncle to Julian (John Keefe) and Jake (Alexandru Geoana) who’s parents died while working for Hybra-Tech. Early in the film, Julian and his friends head out to do some less-than-stellar motorcycle stunts. In the process Julian’s friend Zeke (Elvin Dandel) is severely injured. Zeke is taken to the hospital where he dies from an unexplained reaction to prescribed pain killers. Julian learns from his friend Becky (Aimee Lynn Chadwick) who works at Hybra-Tech that Zeke was brought into the company’s laboratory.
Tearing a page from the Return of the Living Dead 3 script, Julian, Becky and their friends break into high security laboratories at Hybra-Tech and discover the zombie clones being made by the company. Uncle Charles discovers the group sneaking around the lab and tries to defend his research. Realizing what they've discovered, Julian and his friends attempt to escape Hybra-Tech and in the process accidentally release the zombie clones.
The cast visits the set of Zombies: The Beginning
The rest is pretty much what you’d expect. Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis doesn’t try to cover any new ground. The same sub plots, personality conflicts and “we’ve got to save our friend that was bit by a zombie” situations you’ve seen in a hundred zombie films are present here in spades. In truth Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis shouldn’t be blamed for sticking to well tread zombie storylines. Plenty of other films have done the same. But when you throw in truly horrible acting and terrible special effects you could do much better going elsewhere. Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis "needs improvement".