Friday, September 28, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution 3D Review

I like the Resident Evil movies.  There, I said it.  I don't think they're great or even that good, but they're incredibly entertaining and just fun to watch.  At the end of the day, isn't that why we all watch movies?  Yes, I very much enjoy such fare as The Artist or The King's Speech, but I also enjoy the Expendables 2s of the world.  Resident Evil: Retribution 3D obviously falls more in line with the "turn off your brain and watch stuff get blown up" part of the cinematic scale.  I enjoyed it overall, but it's certainly not my favorite of the franchise.  And to warn you, I'm gonna spoil the crap out of this movie (like anyone actually cares?).

First and foremost, I thought the concept for the film was somewhat original when compared to the rest of the franchise.  Yes, Alice is yet again in the hands of the Umbrella Corporation, but this time she's "in the belly of the beast," to quote that resurrecting sum'bitch, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts, reprising his role from Afterlife).  The "belly" is actually an old Soviet-era submarine base under the arctic ice.  To aid her escape, Wesker dispatched his top agent, Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), who is, for some reason, wearing her signature red dress from the games.  Why is she wearing a skimpy red dress hundreds of feet under water?  I don't know.  How did she get into the base when we later see the complexities of such an act when the rest of the strike team enters?  I don't know.  My biggest complaint with the film, and the franchise in general, is that so much just doesn't make sense.  But I digress.

The aforementioned "strike team" consists of returning hero Luther (Boris Kodjoe), and newcomers Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), who are both from the video game realm.  There are two Russian red-shirts with them, but they don't really matter.  What does matter is that I was delighted to see these two classic characters on screen for the first time.  And I really dug em both.  I'm a huge fan of Kevin Durand (he is SUCH an incredible douche on Lost), and while he doesn't have that much to do, I liked him as Barry (even if he is very miscast in the role).  Johann Urb is a pretty believable Leon and is a nice addition to our cast of heroes.  The one aspect of these characters that I wish would've been explained or at least alluded to is where the hell did Wesker find these guys?  Oh, by the way, Wesker is now on Alice's side in the fight against Umbrella.  The human race is on the verge of total extinction (hey, that's the name of da one movies!), and Alice is the "weapon" capable of turning the tide.  She is just told who these people are, but not where they came from or why they're fighting Umbrella - and that really bothers me.

At this point this all sounds generic, I know.  But what's really cool is that in this facility, Umbrella has recreated cities from across the globe to test their bio-weapons: Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, Moscow.  Umbrella was actually selling bio-weapons to every nation, under the ruse that they were tested against each nation's rival in this facility.  Weapons were sold to Japan to use against China.  The Chinese bought weapons to fight Japan.  You get the idea.  This would kinda explain the world-wide Apocalypse (see what I did there?) that happened between the second and third films.  So basically Alice and Ada have to traverse several of these testing areas to rendezvous with the strike team.  The zones are populated with fifty models of clones to provide fresh meat for the zombies.  Hence, we get returning (and dead) characters Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Carlos (Oded Fehr), and James (Colin Salmon).  Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) is back as well, considering she showed up in the mid-credits scene at the end of Afterlife.

As is my complaint with most of these films, Retribution just seems a bit rushed.  The film clocks in at about 90 minutes; I would've been perfectly content with another 30 minutes of story.  Alice and Ada spend not nearly enough time in the city environments for my taste.  They show up in New York, fight two axe men, and are on their way after just 5 minutes.  A prolonged fight or multiple fights against other abominations would've been much appreciated.  We cut from Alice in a Russian subway, to the strike team being saved by Alice.  That connective tissue that holds scenes together was missing.  There are also just little plot points that bug the hell out of me - Ada gives Alice a grappling hook gun, which Alice uses later in the film.  Then she uses it again.  There was only one hook, and it was stuck in the ceiling from the first time she used it.  We just needed a 2-second cut to Alice re-loading it and I would've been fine with it.  It seems a bit petty, I know, but when little things like that start to pile up it really bugs me.

Let's get real here: if you're a fan of this franchise you're going to see this movie.  If you aren't a fan, then Retribution will do nothing to sway you in its favor.  There is but one last thing that I feel I must bring up: the film's intro.  It opens with Alice floating in water, and proceeds to progress backwards, in slow motion, showing us the events that occurred immediately after Afterlife wrapped; Umbrella choppers are assaulting the "Arcadia."  And it is glorious.  I'm a sucker for slow motion and things played in reverse, so when you combine the two I just get giddy.  Seeing Alice kill a chopper gunner with her quarter-filled shotguns was just completely bad ass.  Where the intro falters a bit is the expository-heavy dialogue that follows.  Yes, every film has the "my name is Alice" speech, but this particular speech had to delve into the Red Queen stuff from the first film just so the audience knows who she is when she shows up again *gasp*!  Still, the first 20-25 minutes are almost non-stop action and are pretty incredible.  The last thing I'll say is that the final 15 minutes or so (including a badass final fight between Jill and Alice) pretty much blew me away and have me incredibly excited for the sixth (and final) film.

Resident Evil: Retribution 3D doesn't bring much new to the RE table, but it doesn't really have to.

The Bearded Bullet.

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