Hello horror fans, TechZombie here. I don't do many reviews because, let's face it, I am no reviewer. However, every once in a while a film comes along that I really must talk about. This time, it is the latest installment in the Resident Evil series, Resident Evil: Retribution.
In order to fully articulate my thoughts, I will begin by covering the first four films of the series. Resident Evil was an original concept based upon the popular video game from Capcom. It incorporated a few aspects of the game while bringing us new characters and a fresh story. I had low expectations based upon the synopsis I read online at the time, however, I thought it was executed well, and was enjoyable. It remains one of my favorite video game adaptations.
The second installment, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, brought the franchinse closer to it's roots with the addition of characters Jill Valentine, Nemesis, and Carlos Olivera (to name a few). The film mirrored Resident Evil 3: Nemesis with alterations to include Alice from the first film. There were a few subtle nods to fans of the game, but it also appealed to a wider audience. Once again I was impressed with writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson.
Resident Evil: Exctinction, the third (and some hoped final) film of the series, once again brought in characters from the game with the addition of Claire Redfield, as well as the return of Carlos. By this point in the series, the experimentation done on Alice between the events of RE1 and RE2 have begun imbue telekinetic powers upon her similar to Veronica Ashford (Resident Evil: Code Veronica). The film had some great action scenes, and finally a Tyrant fight. Overall, it was a bit forgetable, but it the DVD still gets played every once in a while.
In the fourth installment, Resident Evil: Afterlife, things have started to turn south. Once again, turning to the games for inspiration, we get Chris Redfield, brother to Claire, as well as the return of Jill Valentine (in her RE:5 incarnation) as well as finally getting to see Albert Wesker as more than just a minor character. At this point, I really started to notice the 'fan service' mindset kicking in. The Las Plagas (RE:4 & RE:5) zombies start to show up with absolutely no explanation, and we even get the Executioner. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no reason for this character other than as a nod to the fans, and for some cheap 3D effects. Once again, I found myself enjoying the film, albeit to a lesser degree than the first two. The inclusion of infected Wesker (RE:4 & 5), however, did add to my enjoyment of the film, and made for some great fights at the end.
Finally we are at the latest installment, and the reason you are reading this in the first place, Resident Evil: Retribution. I would say that I won't spoil anything, but really, there isn't much to spoil. I guess I should start with the list of "new" characters. First off, there is Kevin Durand (Lost, X:Men Origins: Wolverine) as Barry Burton. I will admit, when I saw Barry's name in the opening title sequence, I was excited. They pretty much got the look right, but that is about it. None of Barry's personality from the original game is carried over to the film. Next, we have Johann Urb in the role of Leon S. Kennedy. Again, there is a slight resemblance physically (less so than Barry), but the portrayal was all wrong. Finally, we have the lovely Bingbing Li as Ada Wong. This is perhaps the best casting of the three, and although the character was not quite true to the game, I still enjoyed the performance. In addition to the new characters, we get to see some old favorites return, but that is a spoiler if you haven't seen the previews yet. Let's just say I was happy to see MR back and kicking major ass.
At first, I was having trouble understanding exactly what was going on, but due to the first four films, I had a pretty good idea. The story revolves around a team consisting of Leon, Barry, Luther (RE: Afterlife), and Sergei breaking into yet another secret, underground Umbrella facility to rescue Ada and Alice. They believe that Alice is the key to winning the war against the infected. This actually reminded me a bit of John Connor in the Terminator series (especially in the final scene). Many of the characters seem to be thrown in purely as fan service, and honestly, while watching the film, that's what I thought it was, an hour and forty-five minute nod to the fans. We get some good fights, more Las Plagas, another 2 Executioners, and a Super Licker
On my initial viewing, I'm giving RE: Retribution a rating of 2 out of 5, but I know that the completionist in me will have to own it on DVD eventually. I may go see it again at the second-run theater to see if my feelings change any without the expectations that I had going into the first viewing. Rest assured, I will post a follow up once I see it again, but as for now, my advice is wait a couple weeks, or if you really HAVE to see it, catch a matinee (early bird showing if you can.)