In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Alice, Sweet Alice.

Now that TIFF is out of the way, time to get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

After being recaptured, Alice (Milla Jovovich) must fight her way out of an underground Umbrella facility with the help of some old friends – and enemies.

Retribution doesn’t waste any time, coming out of the gate cranked at eleven and hovering there for a good stretch. Since anyone coming into this without seeing any of the previous installments would be completely lost, Alice gives us a montage-laden recap of the previous four movies up front. And that’s what Retribution feels like, an amped-up greatest hits of the series, as there are several returning characters and creatures crammed in here. Although Chris & Claire Redfield (Wentworth Miller & Ali Larter respectively) are conspicuously absent, they are replaced with franchise favourites Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand).

But, let's face it, the main reason these movies keep us coming back is Milla, and once again, she is in top form. She is always gives one-hundred per cent and is the anchor of this franchise. I was very glad to see Michelle Rodriguez back, as well. She is another of a rare breed of actresses that always seems at home in these high-octane actioners. Amazingly, she even finds time to smile.

All in a day's work.

Retribution, arguably to its detriment, is the one that plays most like a video game. When Resident Evil debuted in 2002, it was critcized for straying too far from its source material, so this may be a case of “be careful what you wish for.” Following Afterlife, which I now feel was the best installment in terms of incorporating the games into a cinematic medium, it appears the pendulum has swung back the other way. The movie progresses much like the game, with levels and bosses that must be traversed by our heroes. The dialogue, which mainly served to package exposition, often sounded like it was from the earlier games as well. I kept expecting someone to offer Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) a lock pick.

However, because the action sequences were so awesomely executed and fun to watch, it kept me from worrying about it. I don't know if the fight choreographers have been the same throughout the series, but whoever has been running the show for the last two movies; you've been doing a fantastic job.

Whether you like this series or not, it has always seemed like it was of its own universe. Unfortunately, Retribution has sections that pull from other works, namely the Dawn of the Dead remake and Aliens. I can accept Resident Evil's ridiculous action tropes and anemic storylines, but that – when the game franchise itself has almost twenty years of material – was a bitter pill to swallow.

Li Bingbing as Ada Wong.

As with Afterlife, the 3D here was really well implemented. I think Anderson is one of the few directors that really understands what this technology brings to the table. He excels at giving us both the thrilling pop-out moments as well as depth of field. It really adds to the experience when done right.

Retribution, not surprisingly, ends on another cliffhanger and though my excitement may have cooled somewhat, I doubt I'll ever tire of this franchise. The Resident Evil movies are like sugary junk food to me, and Milla just makes them all that much sweeter.

Oh, by the way. As a bonus, here's some Japanese promotion material from the movie that my buddy Darryl brought me back from Japan.


Oakville Hippy said...

I've never played the video game series, but have enjoyed the movies for the most part, especially the first one. I know what you mean about this franchise veering into more video game type scenarios rather than characterization.

What takes me out of the movie when this happens is in a scene such as the one you have an image for, "all in a day's work." Very well shot and choreographed, but if I'm following it as a narrative, it makes no sense to stick around in that corridor near the Tokyo simulation dome and waste all that ammo. Alice kills off all of the first wave, but then comes many more, and she winds up running anyway, which is what I'd do in the first place if I were in that situation.

If you are gaming, then what happened there makes more sense, as it follows the conventions of a video game.

I'm hoping there's more of a plot going on in the next sequel, but even if it isn't, it'll still be a spectacle:

Jay Clarke said...

Can't argue with you on that one. But, as long as it continues to bring the spectacle, I'll be there.