Monday, September 17, 2012

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution 3D

Ever since the 2002 release of the first Resident Evil movie, Director/Writer/Producer Paul W.S. Anderson has consistently given us the most extreme and totally over-the-top action/horror movie experiences in the last decade. The Resident Evil movie franchise (based on the highly popular Capcom video games) has continued to deliver a steady dose of blood, guts and mayhem courtesy of flesh-eating zombies and a scantily-clad heroine named Alice (Milla Jovovich)! Now ten years later, Alice returns to take on the undead and the powerful Umbrella Corporation...but it definitely won't be the last!
Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth installment in the Resident Evil movie franchise, starts right where the last movie (Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) left off. Alice is on board the Arcadia where Umbrella stored it's human guinea pigs. After defeating Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and rescuing 'K-Mart', (Spencer Locke) (and yes, that's her name); Umbrella shows up with an army led by the now enslaved and brainwashed (also blond?) Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), who completely blows the place to smithereens!
In the aftermath of the battle on the Arcadia, Alice finds herself a captive of Umbrella in a high-tech, underwater, research facility, complete with huge replicas of major city centers as well as a re-creation of a seemingly-happy, normal suburban area. Now Alice must fight her way to freedom alongside a group of resistance fighters which include some familiar faces: Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) and a few new allies: Barry Burton (Kevin Durand) Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Ada Wong (Bingbing Li). The problem is that Umbrella has also brought back some old friends and turned them against Alice including: Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez), and James 'One' Shade (Colin Salmon, from the first movie!). Together, Alice and the team fight off the hordes of the Las Plagas/T-virus infected/undead and a few other surprises like giant Lickers, Russian Ganados and huge sledgehammer-wielding Executioners!
Bingbing Li as Ada Wong
It can be said that the plot of the Resident Evil movies has gotten increasingly convoulted ever since the end of the second movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004). Much like the games, the movie franchise is full of colorful, stock characters, both major and expendable. While in the first movie, both Alice and all of the human characters were created solely for the movie, it wasn't long before video game characters entered into the movies as with the sequel which included Jill Valentine ((Sienna Guillory), Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and Nemesis (Matthew G. Taylor). Later, in Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), we we're introduced to Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and Albert Wesker (originally Jason O'Mara). Then in Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) we were got to meet Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), Claire's long-lost brother. Now with Resident Evil: Retribution, they have added even more characters with fan-favorites: Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), along with Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), whose character appeared in the first Resident Evil (1996) game along with Chris, Jill and Wesker. With so many characters and plot points, it seems as though the franchise is trying too hard to please the Resident Evil fans, as well as keep the movie cast fresh with new faces. But when is too many, too much? The Resident Evil movies are notorious for forgetting about characters from previous movies. If they haven't already killed them off, which even if they did, they'd just bring them back! And lest we forget about the characters that Alice has tried to save over the years such as Angella Ashford (Sophie Vavasseur) in Apocalypse and 'K-Mart' (Spencer Locke) in Afterlife. Not to mention Claire and Chris Redfield, who aren't even mentioned in the new movie! Whatever happened to them? Who knows? Who cares? Apparently director Paul W.S. Anderson doesn't!
Johann Urb as Leon Kennedy
While RE: Retribution revisits many of the same locations and/or scenes from Afterlife, like the Arcadia in a bizarre rewind sequence and even the rainy streets of Tokyo that we saw in the title sequence of Afterlife, it's a wonder why they are two separate movies! The director could have easily combined the two, so instead of two short 90-minute movies, it could have been an impressive two and a half hour spectacular! Milla Jovovich has continued to play the super-powered heroine Alice from the beginning and it seems rather convenient that she married director Paul W.S. Anderson in 2009 after having a daughter, Ever, in 2007. Although it is interesting to note that she was previously married to Luc Besson, (French director of The Fifth Element (1997) where Milla got her big break.) from 1997 to 1999. After having a kid, it's noticeable how Milla has somewhat lost her unusually slender-form. Yet she can still manage fit into a tight, black-leather outfit, which also looks suspiciously a lot like Kate Beckinsale's costume in the Underworld movies (another action/horror movie franchise past it's prime). In regards to the 3D aspect of the movie, (which was also featured in the last movie) it provides an extra, albeit unnecessary, element of over-heightened action with various things flying at the audience (i.e. bullets, knives, blood and gore, etc).
Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine
While the 3D craze shows no signs of slowing down, it is becoming an overused element in many recent action, Sci-Fi and horror movies. While Resident Evil: Retribution does have some exciting entertainment value as well as adequate fan-service to those devoted fans like me who have been playing the games from the beginning. The fifth installment to this franchise definitely shows signs of wearing down, although the ending (which I will not spoil) does leave it open for a sixth and hopefully final movie. But like the ravenous zombies that populate the Resident Evil multi-verse, this franchise keeps coming back from the dead for more flesh (and more money!) and will NEVER die until the movie-going masses put the proverbial bullet-in-the-head to Paul W.S. Anderson's undead opus. I for one, will be reluctant to sit through another Resident Evil movie unless some real changes are made (and/or if they include Jack Krauser or Sheva Alomar in the next one!). As I am writing this Resident Evil: Retribution is currently #1 in the box office earning over $20 Million!

LINKS: Resident Evil Movie Official Website, Resident, Resident Evil Wiki