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This week, Papa Kenn reviews the latest entry in one of his favorite (and guilty pleasure) movie series, RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION!
“Resident Evil: Retribution”
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writers: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Bingbing Li, Colin Salmon, Kevin Durand, Shawn Roberts, Boris Kodjoe
Let me make one thing very clear. I am a fan of the Resident Evil movies. I love them despite how every single one has been panned by critics, despite their vast separation from the games, and despite the consistently less than stellar acting. That being said, Resident Evil: Retribution is among the weakest of the series in my opinion.
Other than a flimsy script (something we’ve all come to expect from the series) and the usual obvious 3D tricks, Retribution has several factors working against it:
1) The constant slow motion. This has been a staple of the series’ action scenes since the very beginning, and is pretty awesome to see at several points throughout the movie. However, there are so many action scenes that the slow motion seems to take up at least half of the movie. While shootouts and high-tension battles can (and do) take advantage of this effectively, had scenes with Alice and others running away from zombies in corridors been normal speed, the movie would have been easily 10 minutes shorter. They might have looked convincing during filming at regular speed, but in slow motion it looks like Alice is taking a nice jog while being pursued by running zombies that want to chew her face off. Take away the slow motion and you’d have a fast-paced and legitimately tense couple of moments. The extra time could always be filled with dialogue…though actually no. You wouldn’t want to do that because…
2) Another staple of the series has been acting that rivals the PS1-generation Resident Evil games. Many of the actors in Retribution seem to have taken this to heart however, and really took the overacting to new levels. The only consistently good actors (with more than a couple lines) in the entire movie were Milla Jovovich (Alice), Michelle Rodriguez (Rain), Boris Kodjoe (Luther West), and Aryana Engineer who plays a little girl named Becky. You heard me right. Of all the actors in this movie, an 11-year-old is in the top four.
Of all the characters that made an appearance in this movie, the most disappointing for me was Ada Wong as portrayed by Bingbing Li. She was beautiful and ruthless like Ada from the games, but her lines were delivered as if they were coming from the original Silent Hill game. You see when you…talk like this in a…movie, it can get…really distracting. Come on, not even Captain Kirk paused that much in a sentence!
3) It’s no surprise to fans that there are inconsistencies between the movies and the games. We learned this within the first 15 minutes of part 1. Throughout Retribution however, we see more and more influences from the games both old and new. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and should actually work as a means of connecting fans of the games to the movies even more than before. It should, but this is where major inconsistencies come in.
Creature names are switched, zombie mutations are misleading, creature size and behavior is completely wrong (especially one in particular), and why do zombies stop moving without getting shot in the head!? Some of these are issues with previous entries as well, and I would usually explain them away as creative license in the movies being separate from the games. It all seems exaggerated in Retribution however, and if specific creatures are going to be borrowed then there needs to be some consistency to avoid alienating the hardcore game fans.
Despite these negatives, I still enjoyed this movie on account of two major factors. The first being the characters Alice, Luther, and Rain. Even they have their hokey acting moments, but overall the performances are great and I honestly care about all three characters. The second and biggest factor of all the Resident Evil movies is the action. Dear sweet lord can Paul Anderson make cinematic gold out of action sequences! Except for the “corridor running” and oversaturation of slow motion, the fight scenes are phenomenally shot and really portray the intensity of every moment (as long as no one is talking).
In a series that is well known for being less than stellar but adored by its fans, Resident Evil: Retribution unfortunately falls short of the mark. It’s not the worst of the series, but is dragged down by the lack of substance and problems inherited from its predecessors.
For anyone not already a fan of the series, I can’t recommend this movie. Either you haven’t seen the others and would have no idea who anyone is despite the helpful little summary at the movie’s opening, or you’ve seen and hated at least one of the others and know you’ll hate it anyway. For fellow fans, Retribution is definitely worth seeing, but don’t expect to be blown away by anything…except maybe the action…and Milla Jovovich.
I give Resident Evil: Retribution: 6/10.
I’m Papa Kenn, and thank God for form-fitting body suits! See you next review.
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