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Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Review

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Resident Evil Retribution

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains horror scenes and violence
Cast:
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine
Aryana Engineer as Becky
Li Bingbing as Ada Wong
Johann Urb as Leon S. Kennedy
Boris Kodjoe as Luther West
Kevin Durand as Barry Burton
Oded Fehr as Carlos Oliveira
Colin Salmon as James “One” Shade
Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex.

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The Resident Evil movies aren’t particularly good, but I can’t deny that I find them quite entertaining. With the exception of Apocalypse which I found straight up bad, the other movies in the series are silly, very much not representative of the games they are based on, but yet work as some mindless fun. With original Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson’s returning to direct Afterlife, I found it that movie to be fun, but also felt a little underwhelmed at the same time. However, his work on Resident Evil: Retribution was much more of what I was looking for, and was probably the peak of the movie series.

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The opening was admittedly a bit awkward. The credits sequence was a great start with a tracking shot reversed of an attack taking place after the end of Afterlife. Immediately after that however, it just cuts to Alice (Milla Jovovich) giving a recap of the previous movies, and it was just done kind of poorly done. Now Alice narrating what happened in the previous movies at the beginning of the next one isn’t uncommon, but the way they presented it here just looks really silly and out of place for the movie, as if it’s some teaser clip intended to be released online rather than put in the actual film. Without getting too into it, up to a certain point, much of the opening is a little jarring and you don’t really know what’s happening. After that point however, it started to really work for me. I actually didn’t know what to expect from Retribution really. While all the movies are very similar, I wasn’t sure about the plot or the setting, and so it was quite the surprise when I did watch it. I think the reason why this movie works so well compared to much of the other movies in the series is that it’s so silly that it actually seems self aware. So whenever an incredibly silly or goofy moment happens, it doesn’t come across as bad, as it actually enhances the experience and just makes the experience more fun in a B movie way. This is probably the first movie in the series that understands what kind of a series they are, and completely embraces it. If you’re a die hard Resident Evil game fan who doesn’t like what the movies have done, this won’t win you over. I’m not even sure that I can say that zombies take up more than half of the antagonists that the main characters are fighting against in this movie. As someone who only played one of the games, like with the other movies, there are some characters and references to the game series that you might enjoy seeing.

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The acting is pretty much at the level of the other Resident Evil movies, that is to say generally fine and occasionally bad. Milla Jovovich is once again reliable as lead character Alice, there’s not a whole lot of progression with her character in the series, and Retribution doesn’t change anything either, but Jovovich is effective enough and makes the character work well enough. You also get returns of characters from previous movies played by Sienna Guillory and Michelle Rodriguez, and they are decent in their roles. The rest of the acting is just fine but nothing that good either. Even the appearances of known Resident Evil characters weren’t that impressive, with Leon Kennedy, Barry Burton and Ada Wong being included. Li Bingbing was relatively decent as Wong, but the other two characters really could’ve been swapped out for anyone.

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Paul W.S. Anderson directs his third Resident Evil movie here, and it works a lot better than what he was trying to do with Afterlife. Like with Afterlife, he decided to film the movie in 3D and if you are nowadays going to watch this movie not in 3D, a lot of the moments have objects flying at the camera and look really goofy and forced. However visually the movie actually looks pretty good, and makes it an enjoyable action flick to watch. By now you must know that this is an action series at this point, and thankfully it absolutely delivers on that aspect here. Whether it be with zombies or other humans, the fight choreography and stunts are quite good, and what’s even better is that the movie actually allows you to see what’s going on and not burying it in obnoxious cuts to hide poor stunts. It also doesn’t fall into the problem that Afterlife had, where it brought out the big guns for the opening scene and the rest of the action scenes not really living up to that moment. Retribution however is consistently entertaining from beginning to end. Like in Afterlife, there is quite a lot of slow motion used, but thankfully Anderson pulled back on a lot of it so it’s not nearly as goofy. A lot of the CGI in the previous movies haven’t aged particularly well, however I think Retribution has good enough effects. Tomandandy once again returns to provide the score after Afterlife, and it is quite effective, mainly in the action scenes.

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Resident Evil: Retribution edges Extinction out for best movie of the live action movie series. It strikes the right balance of being entertaining and silly, yet is well made as a B level action movie that makes it genuinely entertaining and not just something to laugh at. If you enjoyed any of the previous Resident Evil movies then I recommend trying this one too, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

 

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) Review

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror Scenes & Violence
Cast:
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Ali Larter as Claire Redfield
Oded Fehr as Carlos Oliveira
Iain Glen as Dr. Alexander Isaacs
Ashanti as Nurse Betty
Mike Epps as Lloyd Jefferson “L.J.” Wade
Spencer Locke as K-Mart
Christopher Egan as Mikey
Jason O’Mara as Albert Wesker
Director: Russell Mulcahy

Captured by the Umbrella Corp., Alice (Milla Jovovich) receives genetic alterations that leave her with superhuman abilities. Hiding out in the Nevada desert, she joins forces with former cohorts Carlos (Oded Fehr) and L.J. (Mike Epps) as well as new survivors Claire (Ali Larter), K-Mart (Spencer Locke) and Nurse Betty (Ashanti) to eradicate the virus that threatens to turn every human on Earth into a zombie.

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Despite mixed to negative reactions to the previous two movies, the Resident Evil movie series continued with its third movie, Extinction. Extinction is quite the considerable improvement over its previous movie Apocalypse. It is one of the better Resident Evil movies, it has some good ideas and setups, and is quite enjoyable, albeit being yet another over the top and silly zombie action flick.

Resident Evil Extinction takes the setting from the city in Apocalypse to a desert environment, and that was rather refreshing and a lot more fun. Compared to the previous movies, it really does feel more like the end of the world. I haven’t seen many zombie movies set in a desert environment, and so while plotwise it’s very familiar, it nonetheless feels fresh. At this point in the series you should completely separate the movies from the games. In my review for Resident Evil Apocalypse, I mentioned how there was a part in the third act that I didn’t really like particularly. That aspect was the revelation that lead character Alice now has somehow supernatural powers, including telekinesis. Unfortunately, they didn’t retcon that in Extinction, her powers stay here too. There is really no explanation for them, nor are there any rules set in place as to what she can or can’t do, they are very vague on that aspect. It’s a part you just have to go with, but I really wish that this wasn’t in the movie and series in the first place. Otherwise it’s a dumb and silly zombie action movie that’s quite fun. It’s reasonably paced across its hour and a half runtime and from what I could recall it didn’t drag too often. It does end with one of those sequel bait endings, but I guess all of the Resident Evil movies do that.

Milla Jovovich has quite a handle on the role of Alice by this point. I think the character really needed a lot more characterisation and better writing than what has been provided to her, but Jovovich did well. Ali Larter is introduced as Claire Redfield, another character from the games, and she was pretty good here. The characters in general aren’t particularly deep and you don’t really care for them, but I guess they’re handled a little better than the previous movies. Iain Glen is one of the main antagonists of the movie, the character is rather generic, and he thankfully hams up the role. One character that I recognise from the games that made an appearance here was Albert Wesker, I haven’t played a game with him in it, but Wesker is the main human antagonist of the series from what I can tell. The problem with him here isn’t that he’s only in a couple scenes, no doubt they were just setting him up for the next movie. The problem was that Jason O’Mara is just so miscast in the role, coming across as a really boring businessman, who I guess is Albert Wesker because that’s what people call him and he’s blonde and always wears sunglasses. It hardly drags the movie down at all but it takes you out of it a bit. Thankfully he was recast in the next movie, and was… slightly better.

Russell Mulcahy is the director, and is considerably better than the last movie. Instead of the dark blue colour of the dark cities in Apocalypse, Extinction takes place in the deserts of Las Vegas, giving off a vibe of Mad Max but with zombies. Everything feels abandoned and wrecked, and it’s quite effective. Action scenes are considerably better too, they are at least more creative with the setups and you can see a lot more of what’s going on (especially compared to Apocalypse), however does have a little too many cuts at points. Some of the CGI is kind of messy, but it’s at least improved on from the previous two movies. I also quite liked Charlie Clouser’s score.

Resident Evil Extinction isn’t great by any means, nor would I call it good, but I enjoyed it for what it is. Along with the underdevelopment of characters, some leaps in logic and dumb moments, I think one of the biggest problems in both the movie and really the series was having Alice be a superpowered character. Even as a dumb action series, the omission of that aspect would’ve made these movies considerably better. Nonetheless, at this point I’d say that it’s my favourite in the series thus far, though it’s not saying a lot. If you were entertained by any of the previous two Resident Evil movies, I definitely think you’ll have some fun with this.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) Review

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror scenes, and offensive language
Cast:
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine
Oded Fehr as Carlos Oliveira
Thomas Kretschmann as Major Timothy Cain
Sophie Vavasseur as Angela “Angie” Ashford
Jared Harris as Dr. Charles Ashford
Mike Epps as Lloyd Jefferson “L.J.” Wade
Director: Alexander Witt

A deadly virus from a secret Umbrella Corporation laboratory underneath Raccoon City is exposed to the world. Umbrella seals off the city to contain the virus, creating a ghost town where everyone trapped inside turns into a mutant zombie. Alice (Milla Jovovich), a survivor from Umbrella’s secret lab, meets former Umbrella security officer Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and mercenary Carlos Oliviera (Oded Fehr). Together, they search for a scientist (Jared Harris) who might be able to help.

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The first Resident Evil movie didn’t receive the greatest critical response but it was a success upon its release, especially with it being loosely based on the video games of the same name. The Resident Evil movie started out smaller, but by the time the movie series ended in the 2010s it was a full on action series. The second movie Apocalypse was the escalation from horror action to full on action with some horror elements, to such a ridiculous level. If the first movie wasn’t already a major departure from the games, Apocalypse certainly was that. It’s really not good at all but if you know what you’re going in for, you can have some fun at certain parts.

I will be commenting on how they adapted the Resident Evil games to the big screen, but keep in mind that I’ve only played the remake of Resident Evil 2, so I don’t know a ton about the series and lore. Apocalypse actually starts off pretty well, right after the events of the first movie. The movie on the whole is a pretty simple action movie with a straightforward plot. Even though it wasn’t attempting to have scenes like those The Matrix just yet, despite the scale being seemingly small they still manage to make it feel overblown, especially with the action scenes. While it is definitely horror based with the movie involving zombies, any sort of true horror that the first movie had is missing here. There’s very little that’s surprising, I guess there is a twist in the third act but on the whole the movie is mildly predictable. Again, I’ve only played the remake of Resident Evil 2, but it seemed like they took aspects from the game but did them in a more action sense. They do throw in a bunch of characters and aspects from the games, but not all of it is handled the best. One character that is brought from the video games is, Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 who is an unstoppable force. He’s like a tyrant (a giant bioweapon super soldier created by the Umbrella Corporation), only he has weapons and he is very dangerous. They did a good job at making him powerful in this movie. However without giving anything away, they do make him very weak towards the third act, and around this time they do something with main character Alice which completely breaks away from the Resident Evil lore, which just does not work at all. While the first movie didn’t to have exactly what the video games had, it did try to replicate the structure and it kept within its own lore. With Apocalypse, it tries to have it both ways, and by the end it doesn’t really work.

Milla Jovovich is really the only returning member of the first movie as Alice. The character doesn’t have a lot to her, but Jovovich comes across probably the best in this movie (as she generally does for all the movies in the series it seems). The rest of the cast weren’t anything special and weren’t given nearly the amount of attention that Alice got. The one character name I recognised was that of Jill Valentine played by Sienna Guillory, as I heard that the character is in the games. She was pretty good and I heard she’s like a perfect representation of the character in live action, however like all the other characters suffer from being overshadowed by Alice. Thomas Kretschmann is a pretty generic villain, nothing really special about him at all. Mike Epps also is in this movie, and while I get that he was going to provide the comedic relief over everyone else, he just didn’t fit in at all. I guess in a way this actually made him unintentionally funny at points, especially one of his early scenes when he hits a zombie with a car with a good ol’ “GTA motherfucker! 10 points!”. It really was at that point where I stopped taking the movie seriously at all. There’s nothing to say about the rest of the cast.

The first movie had Paul W.S. Anderson directing, but he wouldn’t return for the series until Afterlife. This time it’s Alexander Witt directing, and while the movie certainly is bigger than the first, it’s not necessarily better. Parts of the action are entertaining, but the colours and lighting aren’t that great and the editing isn’t the best, leaving some of the scenes a bit of a mess. It can be pretty hard at times to see what’s going on. If you have a look at the colour pallet on the posters, that dark blue colour is pretty much what you’ll be seeing for most of the movie. The visual effects also haven’t aged very well, although they are definitely better than the previous movie. Some of the more practical effects are good though, like the aforementioned Nemesis or the zombies. At points, Apocalypse does well to create good atmosphere, however there isn’t nearly enough of it and they don’t last very long.

I don’t hate the movie like some do, but Resident Evil: Apocalypse is so far the weakest in the Resident Evil movie series, though that’s not really saying a lot. If you’re looking for an accurate depiction of the games in live action films, outside of some characters and aspects that you might recognise, it’s not this. If you don’t mind a dumb action movie and you liked the first movie, then you might enjoy this one. However if you weren’t a fan of the first Resident Evil movie, you probably won’t like this movie either.