Since video games have established fan-bases and can almost guarantee that certain people will buy tickets or DVDs, they will probably always be the inspiration for some movies. The trouble is that most of these adaptations are absolutely horrible. That's understating the severity of this.
One of the more enduring (or stubborn) series that just won't die is the 'Resident Evil' series. We are already up to the fifth one, 'Resident Evil: Retribution.'
Let's get this review over with.
Picking up exactly where the previous movie left off, Alice (Milla Jovovich) survives a huge airstrike on a battleship, perpetrated by the Umbrella Corporation. She is being pursued by former colleague Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory).
Our heroine wakes up from the attack in an empty cell in Umbrella's base. A power failure allows Alice to escape and fight her way through a simulated Tokyo. She meets Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) who informs her that Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) caused the power failure so she could escape. These two characters no longer work for Umbrella and tell Alice that the Red Queen controls all of Umbrella. This base is underwater and Alice must escape to stop Umbrella from unleashing the deadly T-virus into the world.
A team, led by Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb) is sent to help Alice. They will all need help because there are many soldiers, zombies and monsters to contend with. The Red Queen controls the simulated environments in every room. It seems that these simulations (which Alice can recall) are populated by basic 'types' and Alice was one of them. That might be important and explored at some point...
This movie's first seven minutes is almost entirely made up of clips from the previous movies and some of Alice's voiceover narration that makes sure that you are up to speed. If this is your first 'Resident Evil' movie, why would you be starting here?! About an half hour into the movie, things grind to a halt yet again as any questions we might have are thoroughly explained by a face on a computer.
The series has never been completely serious about focusing on the zombies. Sure, a few entries had a large number of them, but the story has always more interested in exploring the horrors of the Umbrella Corporation's myriad technologies. It's true that the best zombie movies push the undead to the background (a deadly background) but they were tools in making a larger, cultural statement. This series is all about looking cool and being mindless action. None of the movies have ever come close to being scary or creepy which always seemed like a shame. It's too late to expect a change. If anything, things have gotten more unrestrained and cartoonish. If zombies are cool and if motorcycles are cool, then let's put gun-toting Russian soldier zombies on motorcycles to chase our heroes who are in a sweet ride! Yes, there are times when what you see on screen makes absolutely no sense.
We all know that the series is stylistically derivative of 'The Matrix' but in this plot, Alice develops a maternal instinct. So now we are in 'Aliens' territory where she has a defenseless little girl in tow. If kids in these movies actually helped and weren't simply rag dolls to be dragged and around, lost and eventually recovered, that would be one thing.
It might be a little controversial, but the third movie, 'Extinction' was easily my favorite, followed by the first entry. The second one, 'Apocalypse' stands as one of my all-time least favorite movies. Perhaps it was the shock of the newer, dumber direction of the series, but it was rough. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (who happens to be Jovovich's husband) has the ability to craft an often stylish product, with some occasionally horrendous-looking green screen effects. His talents don't extend to getting performances that exceed the quality of a video game cutscene.
Jovovich isn't to blame, she is probably as good as can be expected. The attention to detail and literal recreation of Ada Wong's outfit from the video games is admirable, but is it practical to wear a slit dress and high heels in this situation? Unlikely. Most of the characters seem to be comically self-serious and incapable of expressing any emotions.
Special features include: some sneak peaks.
'Resident Evil: Retribution' is just descending further down the crappy rabbit hole. It's really no worse than the other bad entries, but all that means is that it's still awful. Perhaps the worst thing is that as terrible as this gets, it's hard to really get worked up about it because, what did you expect? Your brain might slowly begin to shut down and accept what is happening on screen.
Going by the ending here, we are going to get another movie in the series. All we can do is hope that it will end sooner rather than later.
Rated R 92 minutes 2012