The Good: appearance of game characters are true to the source material, beautiful set pieces, a few visually outstanding scenes
The Bad: overly coreographed fights, tiresome usage of slow motion, plagerises from numerous other movies,offers nothing new in terms of creatures, foes or concepts.
Paul WS Anderson takes “style over substance” to its limit in his fifth installment in the Resident Evil movie franchise. At least half the action scenes are in slo-mo, similar to the previous franchise entry. What might be more stylish than slo-mo? Slo-mo in reverse! And that is exactly what the opening sequence delivers; it wastes almost 5 whole minutes picking up from the previous film: Umbrella Corporation forces attack the ship that Alice and her friends are on, there is lots of shooting then Alice is blown into the water. All that IN REVERSE, then forward again. Alice is captured and trapped in a vast underwater facility that houses replicas of the world’s major cities like New York and Moscow. It is revealed that Albert Wesker (the main villain so far) has splintered off from Umbrella corporation (which is now being run by the artificial intelligence program “Red Queen”). Alice must escape, but not before fighting her way from one movie cliché to another.
For those new to the Resident Evil movie franchise, it is everything you’d expect from a skewed piece of fan fiction. Paul WS Anderson’s wife, Milla Jovovich, stars as the ultimate Mary Sue character named Alice; effectively reducing main characters from the Resident Evil video games to supporting roles. Stripped of her superpowers, Alice is still unnaturally agile, sickeningly strong and uncannily durable. Bullets magically miss her, convenient tools and weapons appear to her when she needs them and her guns never run out of ammo.
If all the slow motion scenes were played at normal speed, this already short movie will be a lot shorter. Its actual narrative is already THAT thin, not to mention that most of it is a pastiche of scenes and concepts ripped off from other films. James Cameron’s Aliens, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead and many others are blatantly and shamelessly plagiarized. In what I suppose is meant to be a “smart” reference of a reference, Paul WS Anderson rips off the “X-Ray vision bone crunching” fighting gimmick that was used in 2009’s Mortal Kombat video game (not surprisingly, Anderson directed the very first Mortal Kombat movie).
Within the zombiefied narrative, we are treated to more “startling” revelations that only serve to muddle up the already messy story of the Resident evil movie franchise. New creatures pop out of nowhere without any conceivable explanation, a new zombie infection called “las plagas” is introduced, and we get unsurprising origin of Alice and who she truly is. Speaking of zombies, they feature very rarely in this movie; or at least the traditional human zombies that Resident Evil is known for. Giant Mutant creatures only make occasional appearances as “mini-bosses” for Awesome Alice to kill (as usual). Most of the fighting involves Alice, former Umbrella operative Ada Wong and a mercenary team led by Leon Kennedy going up against cloned Umbrella troopers including a few familiar faces.
Yes the special effects are top notch (considering its huge budget), and the slow motion will keep ramming that fact into your face. But other than that, there is little else to enjoy about this movie (perhaps some will get off on a near nude Milla Jovovich’s torture scene). There is no sense of peril for the characters and even the fight choreography is more like dancing than fighting.
With a story that feels like a filler episode in a TV series, shallow characters, blatant plagiarism and a overall “been there done that” feel, Resident Evil Retribution shows a zombie movie franchise in the literal sense; the same thing that just keeps coming back from the grave, more mutated than ever. What we have, at best, is a multi million dollar tech demo for fight choreography, slo mo cinematography and 3D.
Go For it: if you like fight scenes that play out more like a dance than actual combat, self glorifying fanfiction, fancy cinematography or 3D special effects in general
Avoid it: if you crave even an ounce of originality, a sense of tension, narrative competence and well written characters
Replay value: C