Resident Evil: Retribution

This was going to be a review about the movie Dredd. I've watched it twice so far and plan to do so again. It is fantastic and I suggest you watch it as well (if you're a dude and like lots of guns and violence in your cinema, anyway).

But then I watched this movie, Resident Evil: Retribution. It was just so bad that I felt I had to rant about it for a while.

I knew this movie would be bad right from the start. I'd managed to avoid reading any spoilers or reviews of the film before going in to allow myself a modicum of objectivity, but if you're starting your film with 10 solid minutes of exposition in the form of reused footage from the first four movies in the series... well, you better go back to the drawing board.

NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, mainly because I really don’t feel there is anything at all in the movie that is not completely predictable.

The aforementioned 10 minutes contain scenes from the first movie (2002), as well as its sequels. The flashback is mostly there to re-introduce characters from the previous films like Alice (Milla Jovovich), Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez), Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), James "One" Shade (Colin Salmon), Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), the Red Queen (with a new face, but same voice) and that Japanese Zombie Girl at the beginning of Resident Evil: Afterlife (Mika Nakashima). Through the course of the film, we also get three new characters: Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), and Ada Wong (Li Bingbing). The length of that list gives you some idea about the problems inherent in this movie’s premise.

To give you some idea about the plot, the movie takes off straight from the attack on the Arcadia, the ship that Alice, Luther, and the other survivors had been on at the end of Resident Evil: Afterlife. Jill Valentine (in horrendously purple tights) leads a band of nondescript storm troopers, rappelling down cables from a dozen VTOL aircraft. Director Paul W.S. Anderson feels that it’s best that you see this attack backwards, probably because it’s cool.

After Alice is blown into the water by an errant explosion, a brain-washed Valentine proceeds to massacre the remnants of the human race (which begs the question, why are the soldiers bothering to use nets?).

Open on Alice waking up, wearing her tissue paper sandwich get-up from the start of Resident Evil: Apocalypse. She’s gotten captured again, stripped naked and has been locked up in a feature-less room filled with bright white light and a big Umbrella Corporation logo on the floor (girlfriend just can’t catch a break!). All of  sudden alarms start going off and the lights go out. A drawer opens. In it is her requisite skintight catsuit (RAWR). Talk about convenient. Umbrella must be an interesting place to work if they leave S & M gear lying around in their maximum security cells.

At least it looks better than the brown number she wore in Resident Evil: Extinction (2007).

While wandering around through the movie, she also picks up a pair of machine pistols in the control room, an ascension cable gun, and a belt of grenades which she stores in her virtual inventory for use later on in the video game during various boss fights. In order to get out of the underwater facility, Alice has to make it to either the submarine bay or the elevator on the other side of the complex.

Between her and her cohorts freedom lies a bunch of stages of increasing difficulty which they have to cross. There's the standard zombie scenario. Then there's the super, coked-up 28 Days Later version where all the zombies are running around. Then there's the super Axemen double team. Then there's the neo-Nazi zombies and their pet Uber-Licker. And then you have the end boss fight with Jill Valentine and a souped-up Rain Ocampo high on some zombie parasite (that I don't remember being introduced at all).

The whole film is built exactly like a video game and that's where it goes off the deep end. It uses video game logic and conventions, rather than those of film. Alice needs a gun? She finds a gun. Oh, she need to kill the Licker? Oh, she finds a bomb. Wait she needs a reason to fight? Lets give her kid out of nowhere.

In addition, this series has gone as far as it can go story wise. EVERY ONE IS DEAD.

I mean there I was watching this thing, and someone goes, "we better move before Umbrella sends reinforcements!", and I go, "FROM FUCKING WHERE?!"

They've already established through the course of four films that there aren't many pocket of human survivors remaining. Where are they training these people? What are they feeding them? Whose making their bullets? Didn't Alice destroy like 3 or 4 of their "secret" bases? Where's the other one? Milwaukee?

Which brings me to another point. The facility in Resident Evil: Retribution is said to be a testing and demonstration facility for the T-Virus. They've built 1:1 scale replicas of Moscow, Tokyo, New York and other cities, populated them with clones, and released the virus in the environment to record the results for potential clients. They then sold the virus to every country in the world, ostensibly to make a profit.


They've gone and killed the entire world, including the population and the financial and economic system that went with it. Where's the profit in this venture?


Oh, and why is the Red Queen in charge of things now? In the first film, she was trying to stop the T-Virus from escaping the Hive, Umbrella's "secret" underground facility. Now she's what? What exactly is her goal throughout this entire film? She just seems to say "you're all going to die down here" and look silly (the holo effects of the 2002 film looked better to me). Is she leading the zombie takeover? Or is she just trying to trap Alice. Why are these zombie experiments still going on in their demo facility? There are no more Chinese, Americans, North Koreans, or Filipinos to sell T-Virus to anyway.

It doesn't help that casting is awful. I didn't like Sienna Guillory in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) and she doesn't impress me here. She doesn't know how to sell this character at all and that really shows. Ditto with Li Bingbing. It might be that she doesn't actually speak the language (I believe she's a Chinese actress). Her voice sounds dubbed through most of the film. Either way, every scene of theirs takes me completely out of the film. They might look hot, but gawd...

And what's with that dress? And that purple outfit? I'm guessing it's a nod to the game.

I just can't fathom how this thing got sold to the money. It looks expensive. This is the best looking crappy film I've seen in a while. The slow-mo effects, the fight choreography, the gun battles: it's all gorgeous.

I'll be honest, I enjoy watching the first four movies for that reason (and because Milla Jovovich is hot), but this one never crossed that line between silly and fun.

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