Resident Evil: Retribution / Resident Evil 5 (3D)
96 mins / Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson
Now it goes without saying, (although I'm going to say it anyway) that you really need to have enjoyed the previous entries in the Resident Evil movie-series if you're going to sit down and watch this. As it goes, I have enjoyed them. And if you're still not sure, this trailer should tell you whether it'll be your thing or not…
Still here? Smashing...
The Plot: Picking up from the end of RE:Afterlife, Alice finds herself trapped in the Umbrella Corporation's underwater simulation facility off the coast of Russia. A former enemy has dispatched a strike-team to rescue her, and they have two hours to fight their way out before the base is destroyed…
The Good: Fans of the RE games will either be delighted or dismayed at the number of characters which have been scripted into this fifth movie. Personally, as a non-gamer, I spent quite a bit of time thinking 'oh, I'm supposed to know who that is then, am I?', as I know the names, but that's about it. Since these films aren't in the same continuity strand as the games, I don't know whether this will be to the fans liking or not, but let's slot it in with 'the good', shall we?
That aside, some (but by no means all) of the photography and fight-choreography in RE:R is stunning, and well worthy of the slo-motion that blags a more than a few minutes of the screen time. The opening title sequence, the battle onboard the deck of the Arcadia, is nothing short of beautiful, and the fact that we get to see it again moments later gives an insight into the mind of a film-maker who genuinely loves this series. But is that love enough..?
The Bad: Even by the standard of Resident Evil films, Retribution is pretty damned weak. The simulation/re-creation facility in the film serves the purpose of being able to put different groups of characters in varying locales, and re-cast actors who have died in previous instalments (multiple times in some cases). But that's all this is; a series of set-pieces strung together by a script that's 20% cliché and 80% exposition. And even though the story is near-constantly explained by whoever's onscreen at the time, it still makes no sense. The short version? The good guys are here, they need to get to there, and the bad guys are everywhere. Don't ask any more questions, because the answers will be gibberish.
The Ugly: There are so many re-used sets, characters and monsters, that it's frighteningly apparent how little this film has to bring to the party. Even the third dimension can't save the day when it's only really used for flinging knives, axes and bullets at the viewer. It's also worth mentioning that a film that routinely switches between dark city night-scapes and clinically white lab environments, really hammers home how much the 3D glasses darken the picture. Oh, and the new version of The Red Queen from the first RE sticks out like a sore thumb when she's inserted into archive footage during Alice's opening 'introduction/catch-up' monologue. But, hey.
The in-movie inference that we may no longer be watching the original Alice (if indeed we ever have been), only underlines how little any of this matters now. The film's final scene leaves things open for another sequel of course, but after the bat-shit craziness of the previous hour and a half, where can it really go?
The Last Word: As forgiving as I've been with the Resident Evil movies, even I can see that the train's running out of steam, with a Greatest Hits package that's desperately shouting for attention in a rapidly emptying room. Still, five movies has been a bloody good run, eh?
• ^^^ 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.