Friday, September 14, 2012
Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) - Movie Review
It's interesting the tag line on the poster for Resident Evil: Retribution is "The Ultimate Battle Begins", as this movie is simply a 95 minute beginning. I'm not sure how it takes Paul W.S. Anderson five movies to tell the beginning of a story, but he managed to do it.
If you aren't familiar with the series at all, it doesn't matter, as you get a recap of the previous films, not that any of it actually makes sense in the first place. Before we get to that, you get to see the first of what seemed like a billion slow motion action sequences. The twist is this one is in reverse! Then you get the recap, followed by that same reverse slow motion sequence played forward, mercifully in regular speed.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up in a house, with a family, but then zombies show up and cause destruction. Later in the movie, something is revealed that makes that opening sequence pointless to watch, but I won't get into that. Alice wakes again in an Umbrella Corporation facility and is joined by what I think was a real-life android named Ada Wong (Bingbing Li). Wesker (Shawn Roberts, who looks like a roided out, young Val Kilmer) appears on a screen to explain the plot, if you want to call it that. He needs Alice for some reason, even though they just finished telling you that she no longer had her powers and that Wesker was the bad guy in the last film. Anyway, so the entire movie is Alice and Ada trying to break out of this underwater Umbrella facility, while another team breaks in to help get her out. As they attempt to escape, the Red Queen throws zombies and bosses at them on each 'level', and Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) pops up from time to time to harass them. That's it, that's the whole movie.
The main problem is that Resident Evil: Retribution could have been cut down easily to 20-25 minutes, and then they could have gotten to an actual story. That the movie ends showing that there's a bigger battle to be fought, you know 'the ultimate battle', really made it all seem pointless to have an entire movie dedicated to what basically amounted to a jailbreak. So, Resident Evil fans, there's at least one more movie coming and maybe that will finally get to the point.
As mentioned before, nearly every action or fight scene is padded with excessive use of slow motion. All it did was to just show how poorly choreographed some of the fights were, except for when they stop to pose in the middle of a fight for dramatic effect, which was also often. If you're going to have drawn out fight scenes, maybe next time get some actual martial artists to do them. If you want to see an example of this done right, watch The Raid: Redemption.
It's very much a video game movie, and it's actually broken up into levels. Several times, they show you a map of the facility breaking down all of the areas. You have a Moscow level, New York, Japan, Suburbia, etc. Characters seemingly never need to reload or have difficulty finding a weapon. That kind of stuff I can forgive though. The problem is that the action isn't even interesting, creative or original. Much of this is stuff recycled from the other Resident Evil movies, and how many faceless soldiers or generic zombies can you see gunned down? Even the actors didn't seem like they were invested, as they would just stand around while bullets whizzed by just inches from them. Nobody was concerned about being hit or taking cover, as the bad guys can't shoot for shit, and the good guys are expert marksman. It wasn't consistent, even when they'd occasionally do something cool. During one fight, they show an X-ray shot of an arm breaking (which has been done in other movies), but seconds later the guy throws a punch with the same arm and shows no ill effects from it later. People in the audience were scoffing at the silliness of it.
I didn't see this in 3D, but I counted eight times where something was thrown or shot directly at the screen and almost all were in slow motion. One made laugh out loud as Alice threw her weapon at a person standing just inches from her, but maybe she was going for more style points there.
It should be no surprise that the dialog was awful, and the actors read it as such. Nearly everyone had a robotic delivery and many sounded like their dialog was dubbed by someone off screen. The acting makes you wonder if they just took the first take for every scene, or did Paul W.S. Anderson not provide them with any direction other than 'act like a robot.' The first guy to die doesn't even get a word in before he gets chainsawed to death, and his partners don't even react to it. It also manages to waste actors I normally like (Kevin Durand, Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr) in small, mostly meaningless roles.
The one thing I'll say for Paul W.S. Anderson and Resident Evil: Retribution is that it least it looks nice. With a few exceptions, the effects were good and I didn't feel that it looked cheap. His problem has always been with his writing of coherent story. How does one guy write five movies set in the same universe and there's still no progression? It's like he's making it all up as he goes along and we're going in circles. This just reaffirms that Paul W.S. Anderson is Uwe Boll with a bigger budget.
I want to give Resident Evil: Retribution a pass because I never expected this to be good, but it's still really awful. It's bloated, recycled nonsense, and it was pointless waste of time. Even if you're a fan of this series, I can't recommend anything better than a rental, and for non-fans, it's a shit film that you never have to watch.
1 (out of 5) Death Stars