Thursday, September 13, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution in IMAX 3D

Come Out Come Out!

Is there really a need for another Resident Evil movie? Writer-director Paul W.S. Andersen had come out to categorically state the next film will probably be the final one, and the finale in Retribution is pointing straight at it, but whether or not it will be made will depend on how well this film does. It'll likely make a lot of money, or enough to warrant a green light, but what a chore it was to sit through this film, which I rank probably the second worst of the lot after Apocalypse.

It started off where we last left off, with Milla Jovovich's Alice losing her superhuman powers obtained in the last few films, and facing a full scale assault on board a ship, led by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). There was some unnecessary time wasting to provide the opening credits in slow motion, played to tomandandy's score which will pepper the entire movie frequently, for obvious lack of aural creativity, but who knew that would be ominous to what's coming up ahead in this installment, which made it seem too generic, and an unnecessary addition to the mythos thus far. The opening credits gave way to Alice giving a quick lowdown summary of what had transpired since the first film, which was good given that it is now 10 years since the start.

But then it went downhill from there. It seems that Andersen ran into writer's block, and with shooting deadline looming, decided to bring us full circle thematically to Episode 1, with Alice waking up in captivity in similar skimpy, well, non-existent costume, before it becomes a mad escape from the confines of an Umbrella Corporation facility, this time a testing grounds for the development of the T-virus. Help comes in the most unlikely form of Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), and his trusted agent Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), with whom Alice must join forces in order to evade the clutches of The Red Queen (Megan Charpentier, voiced by Ave Merson-O'Brian), which had taken over Umbrella the time that Alice was knocked out.

Needless plot arcs that don't go anywhere involve the assembling of a motley crew of mercenaries, which included some characters from the past for a rescue and extraction mission, but you know it's all a smokescreen given that the Resident Evil films have always been girl power, so they were bound for the casualty list sooner or later. And gun fights are just plain ordinary again, ducking and shooting, and the planting of explosives just to pad the film out a little longer as they battle faceless, uniformed Umbrella foot soldiers, because the Alice-Ada half involved more CG creatures and environments that resemble modern day cities, and suburbia, which probably had cost more. And it's interesting that the Suburbia landscape was the most out of place, if only to allow Juvovich to celebrate her motherhood with Alice's daughter Becky(Aryana Engineer) thrown in for a small emotional arc, proclaiming something she would do in a real life parallel in never leaving a daughter behind no matter what.

Scenes seem to be haphazardly pasted together, with fight sequences done for the sake of, lest someone complains about the lack of action, especially involving Alice kicking serious ass. Scenes bring your attention to something, then get quickly forgotten or are inconsequential, such as the injury Alice sustained that got us looking at her blood stained palms, twice. The zombies here are few and far between, with one dedicated scene early on having Alice obliterating a Japanese zombie mob with chain and handgun, just for the sake of to prove she hasn't lost her edge, and probably to allow this film to world premiere in Tokyo. Fight sequences only picked up when they involve close quarter combat, and while the final big battle felt like an afterthought not to shortchange audiences given the rather plain and admittedly boring, stuffy moments, it was the best in the film, where Alice goes up against Jill Valentine, and Michelle Rodriguez's Rain, or one of many test clones imprinted with some basic memory, as explained in the film, going up against Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe). You'd have to last almost 80 minutes of mediocrity though, to get to this point.

Resident Evil is actually about ogling at Milla Jovovich for 90 minutes, and in the IMAX 3D version, if her complexion is left digitally untouched, it's almost flawless, proportional, and silky smooth beautiful. Kicking ass becomes secondary here since the actress has perfected it for five films already, although her Alice here somehow lacked the spunk found in the earlier versions, as if already tired from yet another installment that didn't seem to go anywhere, until the epilogue that teased of a more hopeful sequel / final installment. Li Bingbing was supposed to be the other highlight, being the first Asian female to grace the franchise, but having limited screen time, her role was only made memorable in being appointed the details spokesperson using almost halting English, and perfecting the Angelina Jolie inspired sticking-the-right-leg-out-of-her-dress look, with every scene always requiring that pose. It's also a nice welcome back for Michelle Rodriguez, but having nothing much to do, pretty much makes it a boring comeback.

Still, I don't see how this installment would deter its fan base, both from film and the video game. One can only hope that should another film be made, it'd be a lot more promising from where this movie left us off with a big setup for an all out war. To end the franchise here would make it incomplete, so hopefully Andersen can up his ante and deliver an ending worthy to sum up the franchise with. With a heavy heart, I'd say non fans may want to skip this movie because it doesn't add anything to the ongoing franchise, unless you'd like to watch Milla in action as her most enduring character yet.

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