Entertainment

No Retribution for Resident Evil

entertainment-resident-evil-retribution-posterThousands flocked to the box office last Friday to catch Resident Evil: Retribution, the latest install­ment in the franchise.
This series took off with a bang when the first game was released in 1996. In 2002, this zombie-infested franchise took to the big screen. While it was met with some box office success and succeeded as a stand-alone movie, long-standing fans become irritated at the fact that it lacked resemblance to the ca­nonical games that inspired it. This irritation grew as further movie releases became more and more distant from its classic roots; oth­ers became bored with the movies’ lack of plots, shallow emotions and focus on little more than action.
Sorry, folks, but Resident Evil: Retribution didn’t live up to its namesake. Directed and written by Paul Anderson, this was a barely decent movie (and an affront to the video games).
The movie opens with a lengthy and tragically boring synopsis of the previous films, narrated by the main protagonist, Alice (Milla Jovovich). While helpful for those who did not see them, Jovovich’s cold, emotion­less character did little to hook the viewer. Even lines like “[Umbrella] turned my friends against me” were said without a hint of feeling.
Soon after the movie begins, it becomes clear that a few significant things have happened: Alice has been captured by Umbrella and is being interrogated by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory); the “biohazards” (mutant zombies) are becoming more powerful; and Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) is now a good guy.

Fans of the games may do a double take at that idea. Yes, the super-pow­ered sociopath is now fighting for humanity’s future, since Alice is the key to stopping the global biohazard outbreak.

In order to escape, Alice needs some assistance, and Wesker pro­vides this by sending Secret Agent Ada Wong (Bingbing Li) to escort her to a rendezvous point where they will meet with an evacuation team comprised of some notable faces, including Barry Burton, (Kevin Du­rand) and Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb).
Naturally, the team sent to rescue Alice plants an explosive device on some exposed ventilation ducts before entering the facility she is trapped in. While not clear why at first, it is apparent they intend to treat the whole place the way Luke Sky­walker treated the Death Star. The remainder of the movie is absolute mayhem.

On the positive side, the cinema­tography, set design, costumes and action sequences were excellent. No expense was spared to make this ap­pear polished.

The camera angles were dynamic and well used. One scene features rows upon rows of zombies march­ing out from a bank of fog. Another is able to show Alice and Wong cornered by two massive creatures wielding hammer-like weapons. The 3D feature was used well too, show­ing a variety of explosions and mon­sters, in addition to other things like rain or a girl doing sign language, to engross the viewer.

The set and costumes were excel­lent. They did a great job at making the viewers feel like those places ac­tually existed and that these people were really in such a situation. Ele­ments of the plot are even used to ex­plain how such locations came to be. The clothing was often faithful to the video game counterparts of charac­ters shown throughout.
Now, of course, the action. This movie featured consistently over-the-top, slow-motion, hardcore, and downright devastating combat situa­tions. Whether Alice was using little more than a bike lock attached to a chain to take down over a dozen zombies or Kennedy and his crew were engaged in a firefight with peo­ple infected by Las Plagas, the audi­ence was guaranteed a bloody and impressive show. While some mo­ments bordered on the unbelievable, other scenes keep you on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, an equal amount of scenes felt like they were rehashing worn-out clips from action flicks that premiered in the 90’s.

While a movie cannot be built on action alone, there were many times during which I was able to overlook the glaring absence of plot and emo­tion. Unfortunately, that doesn’t last forever, which brings me to negative aspects of this film.
The minor characters had better acting than several of the main char­acters. Alice, who gives the audience very little reason to like her, stands off against Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez), a commanding and fun­ny-because-she’s-so-serious char­acter. At one point, I found myself cheering for Ocampo, despite her role as an antagonist.
Conversely, some major characters were significantly changed, and not in good ways (Wong often seemed to lack confidence and resembled a well-trained attack dog, not a ruth­less spy). Kennedy was so disheveled that I was more inclined to believe him to be a recovering alcoholic than the suave professional he is in the games.

The plot was thin, and I’m be­ing nice by acknowledging its ex­istence at all. It can boil down to the typical “get here before things explode” action movie plot. In fact, it would’ve made more sense to title it “Zombies and Explosions,” since then there wouldn’t have been any disappointing pretense about the story.

More importantly, some things simply didn’t make sense. For in­stance, the series protagonist, Al­ice, doesn’t seem to have any goal other than “stop Umbrella,” and for someone who has had limitless power at her disposal for the better part of a decade, she isn’t doing a very good job.

Similarly, a character at one point injects herself with the Las Plagas parasite and seems to immediately develop strength that would make Superman look like a labradoo­dle. Anyone who knows anything about parasites- or has played Resi­dent Evil 4- knows that no parasite works that way, not even fictitious ones. That doesn’t begin to touch on the fact that this particular fight scene lasts nearly twice as long as every other and is only half as in­tense.

Most importantly of all was the absence of fear. Some scenes will certainly make you jump, but these are almost exclusively limited to things running towards the screen and screaming. Is this film watch­able? Yes. Would I see it twice? Maybe, if I was bored and didn’t have to pay. I suggest seeing it on cable in a few months, when it costs much less than the price of a cinema admission. If you do want to see it in theaters, I recommend catching the 3D version.
All-in-all, an ignorable plot, weak character development, stop-and-go action and the involvement of a number of meaningless side characters from previous install­ments has me convinced that this zombie film series should be given a double tap (shot twice in the head so it won’t come back) and laid to rest.