Resident Evil: Retribution
R, 3-D & 2-D
I love the Resident Evil movies. I love the pro-feminist protagonist. I love the action in the zombie fights. I love the lack of gore in the films. I am always go see them opening week. Resident Evil Retribution did not disappoint.
Retribution starts with the ill fated showdown between Alice and Jill on the Arcadia. Alice is, as usual, recaptured by the Umbrella Corporation. Alice is release by an unknown entity and finds herself in Tokyo. But the zombies force Alice back into the Umbrella facility. There she meets Ada Wong, an Umbrella double agent that is trying to break Alice free on the orders of Albert Wesker. While Alice doesn’t trust him, she sees no other way to get out of the simulation facility that she is in. At this facility, Umbrella simulated the spread of the T-Virus in mock ups of different cities around the world enabling them to market the biohazard.
Alice and Ada must fight their way through a simulated New York City to meet up with the rescue team in Suburbia. After a battle with clones of people Alice was close to (including Rain and Carlos), she meets up with the rescue team that includes game favorites Leon Kennedy and Barry Burton. Also with them is Luther West, who survived Afterlife (sorry no Kim Coates this go around). With Alice is a young girl who thinks Alice is her mother. With help from one of the nice Rain clones, the group heads for an elevator to escape the facility. They are followed by zombie creatures as well as Jill and her army of clones.
Paul W.S. Anderson is back in the director’s eat proving two things: the series does better when he is at the helm and that he is a master of live action 3-D. Anderson has directed the first, fourth, and fifth movies and these are the strongest of the series. When he passed the chair for the second and third movies (Alexander Witt and Russell Mulcahy respectively), the quality of the movies suffered. Resident Evil is its strongest when completely controls the creator. With this installment and the last, he proves that he understands how live action 3-D should work. The action is more cut throat as you see the weapons coming at you. The 3-D gives creatures extra spook as they pop out you. Anderson also uses the effect to give dimension to scenes including the fight in Moscow. The viewer is often disappointed when there is not actually snow or zombie guts in their hands.
The film does suffer from two things. The first being the casting of the video game characters. Li Bingbing’s Ada Wong is very much out of character. It seems, though, it may be more how the character is written and directed than Bingbing’s portrayal. Ada is the movie is quit voiced and stilted. Only in appearance does she resemble the sarcastic kick-butt character that was featured in the games. Speaking of game character casting, I was very disappointed in Leon. Johann Urb made Leon look more a young Woody Harrelson instead of the gorgeous character created for the game. Urb also has a gruffer voice that the smooth talking Kennedy of the game.
The second issue is that the plot starts to get a little overloaded towards the end. The action flows smoothly and you aren’t aware that you have been sitting in a theater for almost two hours. But the final battle packs a lot of punch—a little too much. I won’t spoil it for you but there are rather fancy weapons and an aspect of Resident Evil 4 that the plot, honestly, didn’t have room for.
There is a lot of good zombie slaying action. Milla Jovovich continues to kick ass as Alice even without her T-virus powers. Along with her physical humanity comes more emotional humanity. While she never wants to leave survivors behind and has hatred towards Umbrella and rages against Wesker, she rarely has much positive emotions and feelings. Viewers glimpsed it with Carlos in Extinction but it’s not until she steps up as a mother figure for a young deaf girl that we see her emotionally mature. This is a much needed dimension to the super woman that is Alice.
Fans of the movies will really enjoy watching the other films come together. That means that new fans won’t understand all the connections and implications. Viewers see character from the first three movies that new fans might not recognize and the significance of Carlos clone’s as the child’s “father” may also be lost. Loyal fans will be excited to see the opening of Afterlife played out for what it really is. Plus it’s always nice to see the video game characters come to life and that the creator understands the content. I loved how they kept referring to the “biohazard”, the original Japanese name for Resident Evil.
Overall, a great romp in zombie slaying with a kick ass protagonist. Fans will be please with the 3-D venture and be really absorbed into the action. New fans may be a little lost, but this installment is a good addition to the Resident Evil movie legacy.
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