Saturday, 2 July 2011

176: Umbrella season!

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Gene Kelly in the 1952 prequel movie 'Singing In The Acid Rain from the Nuclear Meltdown at Racoon City'

Ho ho! No silly, I don't mean the combination of the British Summer weather and Wimbledon fortnight! I'm talking about The Umbrella Corporation, and the healthier pastime of locking yourself indoors, drawing the curtains and watching five bio-weapon zombie movies over three days.

This is Steve's fault. I asked on Twitter which movie I should watch, and because of him, I settled on 2002's RESIDENT EVIL, the movie spin-off from the video/computer game franchise. But me being me, I can't leave it at that. Not when I've got the other movies sitting on the shelf next to it.

As usual, each of these are also listed separately over on my Facebook album which records all the movies I watch this year. As these are micro reviews, I'm not going into the plot (although I rarely do in a review anyway), and they're essentially aimed at people who've seen some of the movies listed. If you want to know more about each one, click on the poster to go to the appropriate Rotten Tomatoes page.

So without further ado, let the carnage commence…

Resident Evil poster

Resident Evil
30 Jun 2011. Location: Home

I don't care what people say, I love this film.
Then again, I've never played any of the games, so I'm going in without any baggage.

Hot chicks, big guns, bio-weapons and zombies. What's not to love?


Resident Evil: Apocalypse poster

Resident Evil: Apocalypse
30 Jun 2011. Location: Home

I still can't quite get into this one as much as the first, even though I know (or maybe because I know) there are more game-references to be had in here.

The scope seems smaller, somehow; the film's more claustrophobic. Normally I'd say that it's because most of the action takes place at night or in darkened complexes, but the first one was no different in that respect.

I think ultimately it's because the character of Jill Valentine was introduced so badly, with no unfolding back-story (because not all of us have played the games), and I just found it hard to relate to her.

No matter, it's still a competent enough addition to the canon, but it's my least favourite of the franchise.


Resident Evil: Extinction poster

Resident Evil: Extinction
01 July 2011. Location: Home

I think this is my favourite. There's less of the future-noir look, and more of the earthy dryness of the Nevada Desert, which gives the whole movie a lot more of a 'warm' feel.
It also seems like the creators are trying to reference the games less in this one; there are character names and archetypes etc, but it feels more comfortable in its own skin than the previous two movies.

My favourite part is the zombies, though. With less focus on the mutated-monster aspect, RE3 comes off more like a slick zombie film than a sci-fi mashup, and (for me at least), it's way more watchable because of it.

Only cons? There are a hell of a lot of body-shots in this film, when you consider that every character with a gun knows by now that you stop the undead with head-shots. Ho-hum.

Also interesting to see the makers trying to bridge the gap between fresh-faced RE1 Alice, and the frankly harder-faced RE3 Alice. Don't get me wrong, Jovovich is still stunning, but it looks like she's spent a lot of time scowling since the 2002 Resident Evil...

I love it.

Resident Evil: Afterlife poster

Resident Evil: Afterlife
01 July 2011. Location: Home

Leaving aside some pretty large flaws (guns that work after being submerged in water, the amount of time people can hold their breath under the same water, walking away from a plane crash AFTER losing your superpowers, and the bizarre tardis-like inner dimensions of the ship Arcadia), this is another VERY slick zombie movie.

Some of the photography on show here is breathtaking (and I don't just mean Ali Larter lingering under the sprinkler system), with sequences originally designed for 3D looking almost as impressive in two dimensions. There are a few nods to The Matrix in the fight scenes, but they're few and far enough between to not over-do it.

Not quite as good as Extinction, but a very worthy entry to the series.

Resident Evil: Degeneration poster

Resident Evil: Degeneration
02 July 2011. Location: Home

Onto a slightly different tack here, and the first fully animated Resident Evil film from 2008. It takes place in the universe of the games, so is more closely related in terms of timeline and plot-points etc (I say that, but as previously mentioned, I haven't played the games, so I wouldn't really know).

It's interesting that as gorgeous as the animation is in RE:D, it already looks a little dated, due to everything being 'real' as opposed to stylised. This level of CGI animation, that used to be the preserve of movies and in-game cut-scenes, is now being rendered live in many games. Because of this, it does feel a little like watching an extended cut-scene, but in many ways I suppose that's intentional.

It's great for what it is, but it doesn't hook me in as much as (the majority of) the live-action movies.


All in all: It's still a standard that it's difficult to make a great game>movie conversion, and while the Resident Evil films have their detractors, the fact remains that there aren't many series in that genre who are currently working on their fifth installment, and still getting cinema releases for each one.

The Resident Evil movies will probably never win any awards, but they're a constant source of 'competent' entertainment, and I think that's an undervalued property considering a lot of the shit that gets released these days.

2012 will see the release of the live-action Resident Evil: Retribution and the animated Resident Evil: Damnation.

I'm looking forward to both of them :D

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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