Saturday, October 6, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution

I was a big fan of the original Resident Evil video game on PlayStation, so imagine my excitement when the franchise was turned into a movie back in 2002. There weren’t many similarities between that first game and that movie, but it turned out alright. Now, ten years later, both the video game and film franchises continue to spew out sequels. In my opinion both have been on a steady decline, but I gave the latest installment in the latter franchise—Resident Evil: Retribution—a shot on its opening weekend.

The previous films had gotten so convoluted and cluttered (where are the zombies?!?) that I set my expectations quite low for Retribution. Here’s how IMDb describes the film: “The Umbrella Corporation's deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race's last and only hope, Alice, awakens in the heart of Umbrella's most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex.”

Let me preface this review by saying that I feel the Resident Evil film franchise has been botched. I still enjoy them, but they could be so much better. My personal preference is that they reboot it and bring add little realism (tongue in cheek dealing with zombies), much like the Walking Dead.

With that said, Resident Evil: Retribution turned out to be a little better than I expected. That’s not to say it was great, but it proved entertaining and a little more focused than the previous two films. You see, the first to Resident Evil movies are centered upon “The Hive” and Raccoon City, two very distinct locations. From there, Resident Evil: Extinction and Resident Evil: Afterlife branched out and expanded the story to show how T-virus ravaged the entire world. It was a big step to take and sloppily done. Fortunately, Retribution got back to the basics and focus on one facility.

Granted, that facility, which is buried under the Siberian tundra, has holograph-domes (for lack of a better word) that are able to recreate various locations such as suburbia, New York, Japan and Moscow. Alice, the main character played in all five films by Milla Jovovich, must escape from the facility but has the luxury of tossing in different setting. A cheap copout, but it worked.

Jovovich does a decent job as always, but the film was billed on reuniting many of the characters throughout the franchise, many of whom had perish. I’m not a fan of clones in movies, but it was nice to see Michelle Rodriquez, who was only in the first film, reprise her role as Rain; as well as Oded Fehr as Carlos and Boris Kodjoe as Luther West, though the latter wasn’t a clone.

The performances were a mixed bag. Jovovich was fine as always, as were all of the other cast members I’ve mentioned. Kevin Durand and Bingbing Li were new additions as Barry Burton and Ada Wong respectively, and I though they did a good job. I was especially pleased to see Barry (“Blood, I hope this is not Chris’ blood!”), a classic character from the original video game. Durand was a good choice for the role, though he wasn’t really a major player. One new comer that went to waste was Johann Urb as Leon S. Kennedy. He had a fairly important role in the film, but there was little to no character development. I found that to be a great shame as Leon was such a major character in the video games.

I must note that the performance of Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine (who should be the main character in a Resident Evil film—again, reboot) was terrible and almost laughable at times. With that said, you don’t go see a Resident Evil movie for the performances, you go for the action sequences and the zombies.

In that regard, Resident Evil: Retribution did a decent job. The opening scene, which is shot in reverse, was pretty cool, and there was a scene shortly thereafter set in suburbia that caught my attention—though it seemed to be a bit of a rip off of the 2004 Dawn of the Dead opening sequence.

Resident Evil: Retribution didn’t further the overall story of the franchise much; in fact, all Alice did was escape from a research facility (though there is a last-stand type of scene as a cliffhanger). Still, it proved entertaining, the 3D effects were solid, and the action sequences decent. I liked it a bit better than Extinction and Afterlife, but not as good as the first two, which puts it squarely in the middle.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for Resident Evil, and while the five films have kept me vaguely entertained, I sincerely hope that Sony Pictures will consider a reboot and give the franchise the justice it deserves.

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 53%

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