Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Back to roots.
When a movie series winds up with five separate films, they tend to fall into the category of Hollywood sequels, that is, movies made for the sole purpose of making money. Those typically have different cast members following a nearly identical story pattern, with just a few different things thrown in randomly. In the Resident Evil series, however, the story has continued to progressively increase with Milla Jovovich as the main heroine. So where does the fifth in the series, Resident Evil: Retribution fit in?
The beginning was a fantastical assortment of musical montages of reversed footage full of captivating visuals and a recap for those that couldn’t remember what happened in the previous films. The movie itself begins directly after the last film starting with the very next frame as our heroes fight off a swarm of army helicopters shooting both bullets and missiles. This scene didn’t last for long before flashing to the future, and ultimately the main storyline.
Alice (Jovovich) wakes to find her hair longer and blonde with a family. Before you can say “what in the world?” you realize that this is the beginnings of the initial outbreak. However, this is not a prequel. What you just saw was actually a *test scenario*, which you find out about later. We truly begin our story at the heart of the Umbrella Corporation where Alice learns a few more mysteries, including huge rooms made to look identical to major cities and places around the world, created to run outbreak tests. The previous evil CEO of the corporation has quit and is helping Alice escape the underwater base with the help of Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) and a group of operatives set to meet them at the halfway point.
Anyone can tell that this plot is very simple. There is not a shred of complexity to it, but at the same time, it works. It works because it returns to its roots in feeling more like a video game in the sense that there is only really one way to go. We as humans are free to decide what to do and when, but Alice was being led from room to room, and if she decided to go a different direction she would die, much like a video game character would. It was more or less about staying alive and fending off an assortment of all the creatures we have seen thus far in the series.
Not only that, but each room she and the others were led to contained an evil bigger than the last…otherwise known in the video game world as levels and difficulty. I complained about the first film being too over-the-top with the video game cliché shout outs, but I actually dug it here. I think how they made this one was overall how the first one should have gone down. I also said the third one was my favorite. In a way, it still is as far as where I wanted to see the series go, but this took all of my complaints about the fourth one and turned them inside out, making just…a really fun film.
The acting really isn’t all that great, as it focuses primarily on action rather than story, as most films in this series do. There are a few recognizable faces in this film as well. Other than Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez returns to the cast, and Kevin Durand is also playing a somewhat important role. Beyond that, we bring another important game character to life – Leon S. Kennedy. It may also be interesting to point out Milla has done a good job in the last decade maintaining the Alice look, showing practically no sign of aging.
From the very start, and all of the way through the film, you could tell that the visuals are very good, with the exception of too many 3D copouts. It’s cool to have things pop out at the audience once in a while, but in the end it’s just going to hurt your eyes, and it’s obvious to those viewers watching at home without the use of 3D. The rest of the scenes were all done pretty well when it came to the graphics, cinematography, fight choreography, costume design, everything. When all things are taken into account, it’s the visuals that clearly come out on top.
Like the previous movies, this film ended in a similar manner, on a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are better for TV shows, not movies. It’s not always known if a series can continue, especially after five movies. If the audience isn’t eventually awarded another movie, there is going to be some disappointment, and if they are awarded another movie, the movie runs the risk of audience members growing tired of the series in general. Right now they are on a lose-lose scenario, running the risk of going too far. Can they get away with it? That is the question and only time will tell.
This movie is exciting, and a must see for the fans of the previous films. It did an overall good job of reminding us of why we loved the series, and it successfully added new material. It took us back to some pretty interesting shots re-used from previous films as a form of “test scenarios”. No, it’s not the best movie in the world, but it is entertaining, which is a lot more than you can say for a lot of other series with four sequels.
In a lot of respects, I find Resident Evil: Retribution to be the best film in the franchise. It’s beautifully shot, amazingly choreographed, and it brings it back to the roots – the video game feel. By adding the added element of an expanded testing site at The Umbrella Corporation, it also added mystery and an intriguing twist that keeps the viewers watching.
I have no idea where they are going with this series anymore. I can see that it’s going somewhere, and I know the next film is the final one…but I have no idea what to expect. Maybe that’s a good thing, but I can’t help but worry.
Rain: You can’t kill me.
Alice: I don’t have to.