Reviewer’s Word: Resident Evil: Retribution

Let me first say to the ladies and any male fans of cosmetics – rest assured, apparently even after a zombie apocalypse, there is an abundance of hair dye and eyeliner.

Movie goers will either love Resident Evil: Retribution or hate it.  The franchise has proven to be fairly polarizing and this fifth installment is no exception.  If the Resident Evil movies haven’t won you over yet, you will find nothing redeeming in this latest chapter. But, if Alice’s adventures in kicking Umbrella ass have been enjoyable in Resident EvilRE: ApocalypseRE: Extinction, and RE: Afterlife, Retribution is a grand edition to the mix.

The film starts off where Afterlife ended.  The beginning few minutes are some of the best in  Resident Evil film history.  With no deeper of a plot than escaping the ultimate in Umbrella labs, Alice (Milla Jovovich)  is joined by some familiar faces from films past and gets help from a very questionable source.  The film also introduces some familiar characters from the Capcom game series.  The first film started as more of a prequel to the game series but has slowly developed its own canon while sharing a universe with the game and mingling with game characters.  While the Redfields are curiously missing this go round, Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) makes her return and we are introduced Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), Leon S. Kennedy (the oh so handsome Johann Urb), and Ada Wong (Li Bingbing).  And of course how can we forget Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts)- Alice’s greatest nemesis (no pun intended) is back.

Bingbing as Ada just looks unreal in the most awesome way

While Kevin Durand playing a more heroic type instead of a creepy villain is the freshest thing about the film, Johan Urb is really really nice to look at, and Li Bingbing makes a dazzling entry.  I don’t know if it was intentional on the director’s part, but Wong in her fitted red dress with thigh high slit almost looks as if the actual character was sliced out of the video game and superimposed into the movie’s screen. It was enough to make me question for a moment if Li Bingbing was a real person.

The zombie effects were perfect; I jumped out of my seat during a few scenes, and Milla is in top form with commentary such as “You’ve got to be kidding?” when seeing the two more outrageous villains she has to contend with. Her exasperation made her more human, offered a laugh, and mirrored what many viewers were probably thinking.  Fan favorite monsters appear in company with the usual zombies that started it all.

The film is pretty much nonstop action for about 90 minutes and we are not left with a story tied in a tidy bow (were you really expecting that anyway). We are left with an ending of epic proportions and a hint at what could be the most ambitious, fantastic story in the arc if they continue with a sixth film.  Milla has stated that director/writer Paul W. S. Anderson already has a rough outline of the story and if the sales for Retribution are good, a sequel could happen. The film has taken first place this week with an expected 21.1 million, so chances are in favor of that part six.

What works in the film is the audience’s love of Milla. Milla moves through her stunts effortlessly while looking awesome. And even when infected with a mutant virus, her character Alice is still human and the heart of the story and Milla portrays that believably. Wesker is deliciously sleazy and fun to hate.  The music by Tomandandy is incredible and never overpowers the action on screen. And even after five films, I still think the good old fashioned original zombie mutants are scary as hell.  And the ending. The last shot left me in awe. Visually stunning graphic masterpiece with a fabulous score and wardrobe.

What doesn’t work so well is a very narrow plot that could have been a little more expanded on. It’s very predictable. And the acting? Well, my better half asked “Do they intentionally act bad for these films?”  While certainly not on par with some of those Syfy TV movies, it’s not going to win any awards. Also, with the huge catalog of monsters available in the Resident Evil world, it was disappointing to see them not take advantage of new baddies.

In a nutshell, if you’re a fan, by all means see this in the theater. If you are generally not disposed to liking inspired by video game films, this isn’t going to change your mind on them.  Unfortunately I can’t offer an opinion on the 3D. 3D films tend to give me headaches, so I had to stick with good old 2d. But I have to admit there was only one scene where I thought I may have missed something awesome by going 2D.


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