Visuals dazzle in ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’

Nick Scheuer

“Resident Evil: Retribution” is the fifth installment of a series of films based on Capcom’s video game franchise of the same name. Directed by Paul Anderson, who directed the previous two Resident Evil films, Retribution adheres to its source material to a fault.

The film starts with a clever and visually appealing scene of dozens of futuristic helicopters attacking the freighter Alice (Milla Jovovich) was on at the end of the previous film, Afterlife, but played in reverse.

The film then launches into an exposition dump explaining the premise of the series and the events of the previous four movies, which is a nice touch for those in the audience who have yet to see the other Resident Evil films.

Alice worked as a security operative for the Umbrella Corporation, a pharmaceutical company that was operating a top-secret research lab called The Hive under Raccoon City. A virus the scientists engineered, the T-Virus, was accidentally released, so Alice and her team are sent into The Hive, only to discover the T-Virus turned everyone exposed to it (most everyone in the facility) into zombies. The team escapes, but so does the virus, and it infects the entire world.

In Retribution, Alice has been captured by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and is helped to escape the Umbrella Corporation’s facility stationed in the far northern reaches of Russia. The introduction of the man who orchestrated the escape attempt, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), is where it becomes painfully obvious the film is based off of a video game.

In many video games, when the player is given a task to complete, the game will cut to a short scene the player will be told what to do, how to do it, and what his or her tools will be. This formula is used verbatim by Wesker once Alice escapes her holding cell and meets up with one of the members of the escape party, Ada Wong (Li Bingbing).

However, as Wesker tells Alice how to escape the facility, the audience is distracted by the extremely odd way Shawn Roberts acts out Wesker. Even though the dialogue throughout the movie is delivered with minimal emotion or variation, Roberts stands out by saying every single word with the exact same smug expression. Not only that, but he carries himself like his character is a robot that desperately needs to be oiled.

Retribution’s video game origins rear its ugly head in the pacing of the story as well. Each of the set pieces serves as a level for the characters to shoot their way through before making to the next area, and so on.

Most video games will give the boss of a certain area with so-called “minibosses,” who are strong, but not nearly as challenging as the fight with the big boss. Retribution uses this formula as a roadmap for the entire film.

There are two of these minibosses in the movie, and, such as with the video games the film is based off, these creatures forgo realism in favor of making themselves tough to kill. Unless the audience is familiar with the Resident Evil games, they are likely to be frustrated by both these minibosses constantly resisting things that should have killed them.

For all its flaws, Retribution does do two things right. Anderson decided to hire Tomandandy, the same music group he hired for Resident Evil: Afterlife, to compose the score for Retribution. Tomandandy’s familiarity with the franchise allowed them to create very fitting music for the various atmospheres of the different venues the characters duke it out at.

The fight choreography is what stands out from every other aspect of the film. Even though it panders to the people who forked over the extra money for a 3D ticket, the fight scenes are well executed and very entertaining to watch. Thankfully, Anderson committed to making Resident Evil an action film instead of a horror film, like the other films in the series, and the fight scenes benefit from this commitment tremendously.

Go into this movie expecting wooden dialogue, mediocre to bad acting and an obvious pandering to the 3D audience, and you will not be disappointed, nor impressed. Though the fight scenes are entertaining, the movie as a whole is lackluster and will likely fall into obscurity once it leaves theaters.

Well, obscurity until Anderson releases the planned sixth, and final, installment in the series.


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