Sep 24, 2012

[Movies] Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

The Resident Evil franchise of video games and movies is one of the longer-spanning ones and one of the rare examples of video game related movies maintaining a decent following. And while they aren't exactly Oscar-award worth movies, they are certainly entertaining. Thus the movies have managed to gather quite a fan following over the years.

Now when a movie reaches this many sequels, the overall quality of the narrative does become rather suspect. Even the Terminator got pretty silly as the series dragged on, and this is despite my love for robots in general. And for a movie to reach its fifth installment, well, that says a lot.

To be fair, the RE movies aren't entirely bad, per se. But they could certainly be a lot better too. And while I don't think the series has suffered too much from the declining quality problem of most movies of this type, it's not like it necessarily aimed very high throughout the sequels. So they're pretty consistent, but also rather consistently mediocre.

Synopsis: Resident Evil: Retribution is the fifth installment in the Resident Evil movie franchise that follows the same science fiction thriller genre as the others. Again the movie was written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. He is also the husband of the lead actress Milla Jovovich.

Picking up immediately from where the last movie had ended, we first witness the action of the last movie in reverse order followed by an extensive recap of all 4 prior movies. The last thing Alice (Milla Jovovich) remembers is being knocked unconscious as she is blasted into the water during the attack on the Arcadia. Next it seems she wakes up in some strange suburban reality where Alice is now a housewife with a husband  Todd (Oded Fehr who played Carlos in the prior movies) and a daughter, Becky (Aryana Engineer). But then zombies overrun the community and it seems Alice dies.

We're then brought to Alice in an Umbrella interrogation cell where she is being questioned by a mind-controlled Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). Alice does her best to try to get through to the old Jill, but fails in the attempt. When the power mysteriously goes out and the security system goes down, Alice then makes her escape only to find that outside she's in downtown Tokyo. And it appears that the Red Queen - the homicidal computer AI from the first movie - controls the facility.

Now while the Resident Evil movies haven't exactly been the most cerebral of creative endeavors that have come out in theaters in recent years, they are rather fun. And this movie, I feel, truly embraced how ridiculous some of its elements are and just went for making a movie that focused  on that aspect more than others. It would explain why the movie involved so many notable characters from the video games all in a single movie. It makes you wonder when Alice will finally appear in the games in order for things to come full circle.

But like a lot of the other Resident Evil movies, acting is not exactly the best skill for all the characters involved. While they do a great job of capturing the visual look of many of the video game characters, a lot of their performances felt rather wooden and cold - almost like the game at times! I think this was best demonstrated by Li Bingbing who played the ever-popular Ada Wong. While she truly had the visual look of the femme fatale spy, she wasn't much for delivering her lines all that well. I felt she pretty much just threw her dialog at the other actors and hoped things would stick.

The movie truly indulged in the slow motion action sequences and trying to have fun with the 3D aspect of things. While I didn't see the movie in 3D, it was obvious at which points they wanted to indulge in the technology given how many times characters threw stuff towards the audience. It's either that or folks had some seriously bad aim and we just happened to be in the firing line or something.

Now if it's one thing that we've learned from the series, the villains, in classic video game fashion, tend to have a rather sick sense of humor. So when an all-powerful computer AI decides to go after Alice and her allies, the Red Queen opts to use the most inefficient ways of doing so. Instead of just triggering more and more laser traps or things of that nature, we have the AI releasing more and more zombies of different kinds just for the sake of diversity. And this leads to some pretty interesting fights, but not much logic in terms of the overall scheme of things.

The movie has a lot of great mindless action and they certainly push the limits of all the different ways to creatively choreograph fight sequences or find new ways to defeat zombies. Plus it's filled with different references to the games in the form of cameo characters, unique zombie variants and all that good stuff. Leave your brains at the door and just enjoy the movie for what it is. In that sense it's a decently cheap thrill.

Resident Evil: Retribution is a sequel no one really asked for but we won't complain about it too much either now that it's here. I can only really rate the movie as 2 motorcycle-riding zombies out of a possible 5 given I spent more time laughing throughout the movie than was probably proper.

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  1. I'm a fan of the video games. Even my grandfather plays the game! But I wish they just stick to the original story. Despite that, I'm glad that Ada and Leon are both there in the recent movie. I was starting to think they wouldn't add those two.

    That reminds me, I really need to finish Resident Evil 5 (game) ASAP! ♥

  2. Going into the fifth installment just means they were crafty enough to make the story line interesting and add twist on the adversity that Alice would have to face.

  3. I haven't seen the first one so never got to watch any of these Resident Evil movies. Who knew it would extend up to the fifth movie?

  4. I haven't seen a single RE movie. Haha.

  5. This sounds interesting. Hope to watch it with my friends

  6. This was the topic me and my boss were talking about last night after we exchanged the "How was your weekend?" question. And he was like "I'm in total disappointment". LOL! Though I'm still thinking of watching it just so I know... but maybe when it's available on DVDs. ^_^

  7. It's not meant to win awards, but it can be fun with the right mindset, hehe

  8. Hey go for it - but it really helps if you've seen the other ones.

  9. You're not missing much, believe me ;-)

  10. Crazy - the things that are done out of love, I feel. It's always strange when the leading lady is married to the director.

  11. That's certainly one way of looking at things. ;-)

  12. It's very rare that a video game movie adaptation is 100% faithful to the original story, but at least the RA series knows how to have a heck of a lot of fun! LOL

  13. I just love this movie so much!!!


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