The Franchise That Keeps On Ticking
The Resident Evil series is one franchise that I actually continue enjoying with each new chapter. In fact, I find the two most recent movies more entertaining than their predecessors (excluding the original, of course). I haven’t rated any of them particularly high; however, they have become reliable sources of mindless sci-fi action with a little horror thrown in for good measure.
Resident Evil: Retribution is perhaps the most action-packed of them all. It certainly offers more action than story as the only plot is about our regular heroine, Alice (Milla Jovavich), escaping from an Umbrella Corporation base in Russia. It’s a magnificent base, though, with entire areas devoted to testing various monstrosities before they are unleashed upon the world.
The Resident Evil movies normally begin with Alice opening her eyes to find herself in a dreamlike environment. This time, though, as the opening credits roll, we see a slow motion action sequence starting from the end of the last movie, Resident Evil: Afterlife… played backwards. At the end of the credits, the action reverses and returns to normal speed, ending with Alice blown off the tanker she had hoped to use as safe haven for survivors of the global apocalypse.
Then she opens her eyes. Or does she? This is a new Alice, happily married to Carlos (Oded Fehr) and raising a deaf daughter, Becky (Aryana Engineer). I won’t spoil what’s going on; it’s part of the fun of these movies as familiar actors come and go, not always portraying the same character. Ah, the wonders of cloning! This sequence is very effective as horror with genuine scares and even a nod to Halloween as Alice and Becky hide in a closet with slatted doors.
Besides Jovavich and Fehr, several favorites are back: Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Shawn Roberts and Boris Kodjoe. I won’t reveal the characters they play; again, they may or may not be the ones with whom we are familiar. A welcome addition, though, is Li Bingbing, who plays Ada Wong. As usual, I know nothing about the Capcom video games on which these movies are based, but I believe she comes from them, which will probably make fans happy.
A problem from the first three movies that the last two seem to have overcome is that of budget. Whether it has increased or whether you can just get more CGI bang for the buck these days, Resident Evil: Retribution looks fantastic. I saw it in IMAX 3D, a format that I don’t think the early chapters could stand up to. I’ve always said it’s the non-blockbusters that look best in 3D; my favorite 3D movie yet has been My Bloody Valentine.
My biggest problem with the movie is that, due to lack of story, the action becomes a little repetitive and boring. I mean, the action sequences are good, but when it’s one after the other, it wouldn’t hurt to slow down for some exposition. Nevertheless, writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson has definitely gotten into a groove with the franchise, returning to the series with Resident Evil: Afterlife after starting off the whole thing with the first movie.
The best thing about Resident Evil: Retribution, though, is the setup for the next movie. I’m hoping they make it because it looks like it could be an epic story with potential to end the series as the best one yet. I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger per se, but it sure left me wanting more.