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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 267: Resident Evil: Retribution

Resident Evil: Retribution
Resident Evil: Photoshop

When you reach the fifth installment in anything (movies, books, video games, meals) you already have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen. You could never see a Friday The 13th movie, but you already know who Jason Voorhees is and what he looks like. It's important to keep things fresh while not straying too far from the formula that got the movie where it is in the first place. It's a fine line to walk and not always the easiest. Once again, look at Friday the 13th: They ran out of ideas and eventually shot Jason in space just to give him something else to do. The Hellraiser series is the worst offended, eventually sending Pinface and the rest of the Cenobites into cyberspace. The point is, it actually takes effort and love to make a movie entertaining and relevant when it's already been done multiple times.

Resident Evil: Retribution is the fifth installment of the Resident Evil horror/action series starring Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Ultra Violent) as Alice. After a brief recap of the past 4 movies, which you can read reviews of here, here, and here) the movie picks up where Resident Evil: Afterlife left off. I strongly suggest you read the other reviews first, because this one will be hard to follow if you don't know what occurs in those movies). After being attacked on the rescue ship “Arcadia”, Alice wakes up in a surburban home, married to the supposedly dead Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, The Mummy) and mother to a hearing-impaired girl named Becky (Aryana Engineer, Orphan). Their perfect world is quickly shattered when zombies swarm their neighborhood, killing Carlos. Alice and Becky flee into the street and get a ride from the long-dead Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez, Resident Evil, Machete). They are hit by a truck and Alice and Becky run into a house, trying to hide from the zombies. It is revealed that all the people involved in this scenario are just clones. The real Alice awakens inside an Umbrella Corporation base and is interrogated by a mind-controlled Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Eragon). The Red Queen, the computer program created by Umbrella, is determined to recapture Alice or kill her if necessary. During a power failure, Alice escapes her cell and arrives in what appears to be Tokyo. She fights off a horde of zombies and manages to escape into a control room. There she meets Umbrella rogue agent Ada Wong (Li Bingbing, 1911, The Knot) who has teamed with Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts, Resident Evil: Afterlife Diary Of The Dead) to fight the Red Queen and her zombie hordes. Wesker reveals that the Umbrella base is actually underwater and ice in Russia and that a team has been dispatched to meet her. The team is made up of Leon Kennedy, Barry Burton and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe, Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Gospel). The base is a training ground, complete with human clones, used to show governments the effects of Umbrella's biological weapons in urban settings. Alice and Ada must travel through multiple areas to meet the group and escape. After going through New York City and fighting to Axemen, Alice and Ada arrive in the suburbs and find Becky still alive. Becky believes that this Alice is her mother and is unaware that she is actually a clone. They have to fight off “bad” clones of Rain, Carlos, and James “One” Shade (Colin Salmon, Resident Evil, Punisher: War Zone). Ada is captured with Alice and Becky escaping with the “good” Rain into Moscow. There they meet up with their rescue group and try to escape the compound. Will they be able to stop the Red Queen and escape in time?

"Ugh, nothing gets zombie blood out!"

In the era of reboots and sequels, it is actually impressive that Resident Evil has managed to last this long with the same actors and actresses. It's always good to see a movie, far into it's story, recognize past events and characters and Retribution does this in spades. We get characters and references to every movie and video games as well. As I've sad before, I'm not much of a video game player, but I was still able to pick up on some references, such as a chainsaw-wielding zombie in the Moscow scene. Of course, if you don't know anything about the video games, this comes off as completely random. Cool, but random. Speaking of video games, Retribution is completely laid-out like a video game, complete with different levels and even end bosses. The previous movies all had a similar feel, but this one was the most obvious. Of course, this did allow the movie to show zombie outbreaks in fun and different locations. We've seen zombie Nazis in Dead Snow and Zombie Lake and now Resident Evil: Retribution has given us zombie Soviets. Ever wanted to see a zombie invasion in Times Square? Well now you can. I should mention that by setting scenes in Times Square and Tokyo, there is a lot of in-movie advertisements. It's a little obvious and slightly annoying to see a giant “Gamestop” sign in the middle of a video game movie. We get it.


The fifth movie in a zombie action movie is never going to be Citizen Kane. The writers know this, director Paul W.S. Anderson knows this, and the audience knows this. More attention is placed on great action sequences and stunning visual effects than a cohesive, complex story. Survival is the theme with lots of guns and explosions. While previous Resident Evil movies strayed from the original zombie path, Retribution makes up for it with one of the best zombie invasion scenes in recent memory. It's undoubtedly similar to the opening from the Dawn Of The Dead remake, but if you're going to be like a zombie movie, you couldn't do much better. Certain scenes or character motivations are questionable and require some willing suspension of disbelief. The fight scenes are the usual high-octane, popcorn-movie fodder full of unbelievable jumps and twists. The final fight scene, while fun to watch, goes on for way too long, especially when you find out that the movie doesn't end when they finish.

Well, I guess it's good she's wearing red

Milla Jovovich is as good as ever and I believe she is one of this generation's best action stars. I'm glad she has stuck with the Resident Evil series as her personality and ability plays well in these over-the-top scenarios. If they stuck someone else in her role, it just wouldn't work. The supporting cast is just as good, fitting into their characters well. This was Li Bingbing's first role in an American movie, much to my surprise, since she seemed so natural in her role. The movie is in both 2D and 3D, but I saw the 2D version. I am not particularly interested in the 3D gimmick and have only seen 3D movies when no other option was available. You can definitely tell in the 2D version which scenes were meant for 3D with all sorts of things flying at the screen in super slow-motion. Director Paul W.S. Anderson picks up where he left off in the previous movie with tons of fluid action and heavily computerized effects. We get all sorts of different angles to capture the action and plenty of slow-motion so we can see every shot and punch.

It's like a family reunion, but with way more guns (or way less, depending on your family)

If you've seen any previous Resident Evil movie, you pretty much know what you're going to get with Retribution. The movie is a believer in “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” It is full of violence, action, blood, and a dash of intrigue and science fiction. This movie does a good job of giving nods to previous movies thanks to the inclusion of Michelle Rodriguez, Siena Guillory, Boris Kodjoe, Colin Salmon, and Oded Fehr. Milla Jovovich is very good, as always, and the supporting cast helps keep the movie going when she isn't on screen. There are also a few scenes taken from the video game series, but I'm sure hardcore gamers picked up more than I did. It was fun to get new characters like Ada Wong and Leon Kennedy, though I would have liked a little more background information on them. Retribution uses more zombies than in previous installments and uses them well. While you may not be enthralled by the uncomplicated story, you'll still enjoy all the action and violence. It's a Resident Evil movie, what more can you expect?


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