Saturday, 15 September 2012

14/09/2012: Resident Evil: Retribution [2012]

A friend of mine has been anticipating Resident Evil: Retribution for a few months, and in the week leading up to it's release he must have reminded me at least 4 times that we were going to see it. I don't know if I would have gone to see it otherwise, but my friend has a taste for high budget, special effects filled eye candy action films. That is exactly what you get and little more as the the Resident Evil movies seem to have gone the way of the video game series.

Now, the movies have never made it necessary for the viewer to have played the video games. In terms of story things derailed immensely after the first two movies and haven't gotten back on track since. However, it is clear that Paul W.S. Anderson, while writing his own story has generally tried to stay faithful in some terms and caters to the fans of the games often. While the storylines don't match, the general mythos of the game is intact in terms of viruses, and biohazards, and like the games, Anderson is constantly shuffling around many of the series recurring characters with Retribution assembling them quite unlike any other. But for those of you who haven't played the games, just having watched the movies is enough to carry you through Retribution, although it is best that you remember what already happened.

Within about the first 2 minutes of the movie, a couple of my friends were already asking me in obnoxiously loud whispers what was happening and who that was, etc. etc. I gave them a few answers and told them to shut up, but it appeared like Anderson was going to supply those answers on his own anyway. With a 95 minutes run-time I was already feeling a little cheated, but then Anderson decided to use the first 5 to 10 minutes of the movie to play Afterlife's ending in slow-mo reverse, then again in real-time and then to have Alice give us a full recap of almost all the events of the last 4 movies. Great if you walked into the movie without any knowledge, not great if you already new it all. It's not just a couple points either, we get some decent cliffnotes and eats up a bit of time. However, once this gets out of the way, things start rolling, then shooting, then exploding as the movie kicks up the adrenaline and shows that it has no intention of slowing down.

Once again, the lighting guy has a field day with the white lab rooms. Oh, and there's zombies.
Anyone who has followed the game series can see the parallels appearing in the movies. The first game and movie focused on the survival horror elements, building an atmosphere of terror that would be climaxed with an undead dog jumping through the window. However, the games and now the movies have more and more turned towards a more guns blazing with constant action sequences oriented audience thinking that perhaps that audience is the same as the ones who were fans of the first. Not necessarily. I noticed a lot of reviews saying that Retribution is much like a video game but that is generalizing video games a little to much. But Retribution is very much like some video games in the way the plot is strung together. I imagine that Anderson had a lot of ideas for a bunch of really cool scenes, like Alice fighting in New York or Tokyo, or Russian zombies in Moscow  or even taking things to the Arctic. Well, after he thought up a bunch of different scenes or levels, he just strung them all together using Umbrella's infinite resources creating a gauntlet of fun if stretching things to a scale only seen in video games.

Currently, Resident Evil is the most successful video game movie franchise ever, and that means the budget just gets bigger and bigger everytime. What that means is that the special effects and loads of CGI are top notch, and visually Retribution is outstanding. Now I hate 3D, and didn't see any need for it in Retribution, and we do get a lot of the things flying out of the screen effects. Aside from that though, the impressive CGI zombies, monsters, almost pale in comparison to the environments which are beyond impressive. That is why when it comes to eye candy and action sequences, Retribution is a success. Also well done were the scares, which while mostly jump shocks, they managed to get a few of my friends a couple of inches off their seats. It seems the Anderson had realized the predictability of his scares, and so decided to shake things up. There are numerous examples, but the best is when Alice is investigating a closet, and you know who you are going to find hiding there. But Anderson knows what you are expecting and sticks a zombie there instead, as it turns out there are two closets. Overall, Anderson manages to keep you on the edge of your seat and with your adrenaline pumping by not keeping things too predictable.

I think Kevin Durand just had a hell of a lot of fun filming this movie.
Where Anderson really struggles however is dialogue, and Retributions is unbelievably campy. Aside from a few conversations, most of the dialogue is just sentences comprising of cheesy one liners, or else stupid reiterations to explain what is happening for like the third time. It almost sounds like a video game character saying something just to remind you what you are supposed to do or to give you a hint. But this is a movie, and when you use a detailed CGI map to explain exactly what is going to happen, you don't need to give me checkpoint updates every couple of minutes, I'm not going to forget. Now, many B-movies use campy dialogue effectively, intentionally or not, but in a Hollywood action movie like Retribution the dialogue is just terrible, and it is hard to think that someone didn't ever point out how bad it was.

Aside from Milla Jovovich, the rest of the cast is pretty much unknown to me. There are a few familiar faces but aside from Michelle Rodriguez, no names come to mind. Retribution brings a lot of new characters to the series however, along with resurrecting more than a couple of old ones. The Resident Evil series is always cycling it's characters, and while Claire and Chris Redfield as well as K-Mart have been shelved, Ada Wong and Leon S. Kennedy have finally appeared on screen. While Ada Wong is very close to her video game counterpart, Anderson decided to tease us with Kennedy for most of the movie. When the shaggy blonde haired mercenary first shows up, I knew who he was, but it wasn't until about 30 minutes later that the name Leon was used, and in the end it gets mentioned maybe a couple other times. There are also some other resurrections and reunitings as Anderson assembles the group for the final battle, but I won't spoil those for you.

I only seem to know the video game charters, most of Anderson's characters remain nameless faces.
A couple of my friends thought that Retribution was the last of the series, but the tagline was "The ultimate battle begins" which could mean anything from 1 to 3 more movies. However, based on the ending, I think Anderson plans to wrap up with the next installment, especially after Retribution's rather epic ending. It is proving to be a rather big month for the Resident Evil franchise, with Retribution just the beginning. Resident Evil: Damnation comes out on the 25th and is the sequel to the successful animated movie Resident Evil: Regeneration, which I enjoyed a lot. Also coming out is Resident Evil 6 on October 2nd, the newest installment in the massive video game franchise. It is clear that when it comes to zombies in all mediums, Resident Evil has everyone beat, and I'm sure Retribution will be a box office success, although it sacrifices story and dialogue in favour of entertainment, which means that as long as you weren't expecting too much, your eyes will be blown away.

Resident Evil: Retribution IMDb
Resident Evil: Damnation IMDb
Resident Evil 6 Official Site

No comments:

Post a Comment