September 14, 2012
Paul W.S. Anderson
Paul W.S. Anderson
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine
Michelle Rodriguez as Rain
Aryana Engineer as Becky
Bingbing Li as Ada Wong
Boris Kodjoe as Luther West
Johann Urb as Leon S. Kennedy
Alice is still on a rampage, fighting the evil Umbrella Corporation and the computer-generated leader The Red Queen. This time it is more than money and influence that Red Queen wants – it is the annihilation of the entire human race.
When we last met Alice (Milla Jovovich) inResident Evil: Afterlife she spent her time hunting for survivors and winning against a series of video game minibosses and megabosses, this time without the super powers that she had gained through her ability to bond with the T virus. It appeared that all was well at the ending of that last installment, but no… asResident Evil: Retribution presents the first frames it is clear that any feeling of safety was false indeed, and the attacks against the ship carrying a band of survivors start right in. Alice becomes a prisoner of Umbrella in an isolated testing facility in the middle of an icy wasteland, and an unlikely partnership between her and the Umbrella head Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) results in an action-packed escape plan that includes some new faces and some old standbys.
In the review of Resident Evil: Afterlife a bit of history of the progression of the franchise is laid out, from the first film that was primarily a zombie film to number 4 which was a full-on CGI enhanced action film with no pretense of horror whatsoever. It was also mentioned that the video-game format continued to intensify as the films progressed. Why am I rehashing old reviews? This most recent Resident Evil continues along the same vein in many ways, but with a few additions and nods to the franchise beginnings.
The video game look and feel is undeniable at this point, as everything from the set-up feature footage to the extended narration about the past and current situations are straight from the gaming world. The progression of challenges follows the correct game format as well, with general challenges moving to fights against minibosses, finally ending in the ultimate fight with the primary boss and the cliffhanger opening the door to the next version. Since all of the Resident Evil films are based on the extremely popular game franchise, it makes sense that this format would be followed, but it this element gets more and more obvious; the earlier films seemed to at least try to be a bit film-like rather than 100% game-like… no more.
This 5th franchise entry did try to circle back to the zombie roots a bit, however, and that is welcomed. There is actually a very traditional zombie-outbreak sequence set in a suburban neighborhood – it is relatively short in the grand scheme of the film’s 95 minute runtime, but at least it is there and is a nice nod to the foundation of the franchise beginning.
The treatment of Alice herself has been interesting, as the series has progressed. In the beginning Alice, played by the stunning Milla Jovovich, is pure hot stuff in the famous red dress. As the second and then third films rolled around she was kind of “dressed down” in earth-tone survival gear and heavy coats, and even her hair got a bit ragged and worse for wear. It appears that fans of the franchise didn’t like the frumpier Milla, or at least the filmmakers believed this to be so, because “hot Alice” is back with a vengeance in this film complete with black leather bustier, perfectly colored and coiffed hair and absolutely flawless skin. About that flawless skin part… granted, Milla Jovovich is a gorgeous woman and she is only 36 years old, but jeeze louise… I’ve got to imagine that she has at least one line or wrinkle on her face. At least one. Not in this film though – she is absolutely perfect in every scene, every close-up. There must have been some general enhancement added after the fact, because I don’t care how many organic meals she eats or how many hours she logs on the treadmill, nobody goes through 36 years of life while maintaining the complexion of a newborn baby. Then again, maybe when she is not filming a Resident Evil sequel she spends all of her time in some kind of cocoon tub filled with embryonic goo. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing her out anywhere.
Resident Evil: Retribution is an action-packed ride through a single mission of a computer game, and the story pretty much takes a back seat to that. From the “entertainment value” standpoint, this is enough to make this film enjoyable eye-candy and a nice distraction from the stresses of day-to-day life. There is nothing epic or memorable going on here, but you probably aren’t looking for that anyway. If you don’t expect horror, and don’t expect depth, you will enjoy this film just fine. I did.