Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting Ready for More Resident Evil: Retribution-style: A Movie Review

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Director/writer: Paul W.S. Anderson.

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory and Michelle Rodriguez.

Once upon a time, "Resident Evil" was simply a video game series where the player has to contend with surviving a plague-filled world. The pseudo-zombies’ natural instinct is to attack anyone with a heartbeat. Part of the videogame’s charm is that sense of foreboding. The secret agendas to be revealed crept upon the gamer, and the narrative had the player solve the mystery of how Raccoon City became infected.

The terror that developed is a fitting tribute to the cyberpunk genre more than horror. By finding a dystopian future ruled by one mega-conglomerate, Umbrella Corporation, mankind’s only chance for survival is to create an enhanced soldier who can provide hope. That is the basis for the Resident Evil movies.

For a series of movies that quickly moved into an Apocalypse in 2004, rose with Extinction at 2007, found an Afterlife in 2010 and promised Retribution this year, just how many lives does it have? Watching this movie is like playing with a cat with nine lives. They will always come back.

Hopefully that includes a fitting end to a heptalogy rather than a drawn-out tale. This fifth outing has the feel of the a lone chapter in a book than a stand-alone product.

Thankfully, this movie recaps the last four movies so audiences are up to speed. The film picks up from where Afterlife left off with Alice (Milla Jovovich) fighting to survive again, on a tanker. Alice cannot escape her destiny of being a warrior princess, and most of the film is spent running around rather than developing the story about Umbrella Corporation's evil agenda. Other little reveals will leave audiences asking more questions. There are few mind-blowing answers. Minor plot elements from the second (containment environments) and third film (cloning) are brought to the fore. While they show signs that Anderson wants to put this franchise massacre to rest, he does not. Just like the previous film, he pulls a bootlegger’s reverse to signify that more is to come.

Sadly, in a series like Resident Evil, not much time is spent on getting the performers to shine. Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) does not get enough screen time as some would hope and Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) is very sorely underutilized. She looks like she should belong in a Final Fantasy movie and not a Resident Evil sequel. When considering this Chinese actress’ award winning recognition in Asian cinema, she really needs to work hard if she’s going to be noticed in Hollywood. When considering that Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung decided to go home than to continue in Hollywood, other international performers may very well take their hits just as hard.

As an action-adventure romp with very little focus, this movie is passable. The question of whether or not Resident Evil, the film saga is even about survival horror anymore is as thin as those tights that Alice likes to wear. They are sexy to look at and that is it. If humanity’s last stand hinges on how to survive the zombie apocalypse, the pre-production team here did not fully read Max Brook’s bible on the subject.

Overall: 5 out of 10.

The film's fan page is here:

Resident Evil: Retribution on Facebook

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