‘Retribution’ the worst of ‘Resident Evil’ franchise
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:09
Ten years ago, director Paul W. S. Anderson helmed a movie adaptation of a video game with a twist. It wasn’t horrible. The first “Resident Evil” told the relatively simple story of commandos fighting zombies in a shady corporation’s underground base. It also starred Anderson’s future wife, Milla Jovovich, as the hero.
The sequels were pretty straight forward, too, following the zombie outbreak as it spread through a city, then the world.
In “Resident Evil: Retribution,” the plot is… who knows? In the fifth outing for the action horror franchise, Alice (Jovovich) wakes up in yet another underground base, only this one is more elaborate. At the same time, a strike team breaks into the compound to rescue the only means of humanity’s triumph over the hordes of the undead. Alice and the team must fight through different zones in order to rendezvous and make it out alive.
That may sound like a plot, and in a certain sense, it is (specifically, it’s the plot of the first “Evil”). However, it is not a story.
Look, no one comes into a “Resident Evil” movie, expecting high art, but there are certain norms for the series. The first three (this reviewer hasn’t seen the fourth) had pretty standard horror points. The only things that really made them stand out were the franchise name and girls in skimpy clothes shooting guns. They were pure exploitative fun with some flaws (what was with that telekinesis thing in “Extinction”?), but they had cameos by some of the video game characters, while not alienating non-players.
In comes “Retribution,” shoving fan service down everyone’s throats, and shoehorning in every possible reference to the games into the space of an hour and a half. This makes it seem like Capcom (maker of the games) had increased creative control.
This leads into the production design, which screams of “trying too hard.” It’s not that difficult to make Milla Jovovich look sexy, so putting her in a restrictive cat suit, then having her strap on platform goth boots that prevent her from running in a stunt-heavy movie is a pretty huge faux pas. Jovovich’s inability to run faster than a one-legged, malnourished orphan leads to a lot of slow-motion. So much of it, that the movie would be approximately a third of its current running time if played at normal speed.
There also seems to be some massive plot holes. A major part of the “story” is about Alice getting her powers back, despite the fact that she clearly still has super strength, super endurance, and super kung fu. Everyone else has these powers, too. Why does Alice need her powers to kill zombies, when she’s amazing “without” them? What makes her so special? Why does the Las Plagas virus sometimes make Wolverine-people, and sometimes make Nazi (Commie?) zombies? These questions keep me up at night.
Paul W. S. Anderson can make stupid, fun movies (previous “Resident Evils,” “Three Musketeers,” “Death Race”), but “Resident Evil: Retribution” is the film equivalent of a spastic five year-old play with action figures from ten different playlets, and the child takes himself way too seriously. You could go and pay to see this movie, or you could wait until the video comes out and make your own Rifftrax commentary. The latter would be much more enjoyable.