Title: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
Director: P.W. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez , Shawn Roberts
The Resident Evil series of films have been an entertaining bunch of films for me; a guilty pleasure of sorts. They are the cinematic equivalent of reading a comic book, the action, the storylines, the dialog all very comic book like, which means that it’s very unrealistic but at the same time fun! And here’s the weird thing, one would expect that with so many sequels these films would become watered down versions of themselves, each getting worse then the last, but low and behold I loved Resident Evil Extinction (2007), and I had loads of fun with Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010). Hoards of zombies, hot babes with telekinetic powers and a post apocalyptic setting…what’s not to like right? So anyways, here comes the fifth installment in the series, needless to say, considering how much fun I had with the previous installments, I was pumped for this fifth film. Did it deliver? Hell no it didn’t deliver; this is without a doubt the worst of the Resident Evil movies! Why? Read it and weep my friends, read it and weep.
This film picks up right where the last one left off, with Umbrella blowing up ‘
Arcadia’ an installation in which Umbrella had been conducting some experiments with humans, or something like that. But none of that
matters, if you think this sequel gives a damn about where the series had been
going up to this point, then your dead wrong. You think that this sequel will
continue the story arc, or that it’s all going somewhere to tell a grand story,
well it aint happening! This sequel doesn’t give damn about previous films, it eschews with
whatever happened previously,, twists things around and gives you an entirely different story, which if you been keeping tabs, is the way Anderson likes it. It changes things so drastically, that you'll feel as if nothing makes sense! I've noticed that director
Paul W. Anderson likes to pull you in with a show stopping cliffhangers (like he did in Afterlife) so he can pull you in for the
next movie, then he goes and tells a completely different tale. In Retribution,
we forget all about ‘ Arcadia’ in the first five
minutes of film and continue with another story in which Alice is trapped in one of Umbrella
Corporations testing facilities. It seems like the Red Queen is the one in charge of Umbrella, and she means to eradicate the entire human race. As usual, it's up to Alice to stop her, but first, she must escape this prison! Will she make it out alive in order to save humanity?
To me, this fifth installment is just sad because I’d been having tons of fun with this series of films up to this point; only to have director P.W. Anderson drop the ball completely with this fifth installment. Not that these movies were ever ‘deep’ or anything, I had fun with the stylish action, the zombies, the look of the film and I was content with the story moving along little by little amongst all the action and zombies. And this one has all that slow mo and action...but something feels off. With Retribution, you’ll get the feeling that director Paul W. Anderson isn’t even trying to deliver anything remotely good, or interesting, or even entertaining, with this film he's simply streeetching things out to make a couple more millions. He’s certainly showing signs of fatigue when it comes to these films; you get the feeling he’s making them just for the money, that there’s no real passion behind them. The film feels like empty calories, but hey, even that can be fun. I did enjoy the fast paced action and the ass kicking fights, but at the end of the day, it all felt kind of redundant.
Number one problem for me with this film is that there is almost no story to this installment, no mystery, nothing to pull us in. The way the film is structured is that Umbrella captures
and sends her to this facility that is divided into different ‘fake’ countries.
One part of the facility simulates New York,
one simulates Russian, one China,
one looks like Suburbia U.S.A.
and so forth. You see, in order for Umbrella to sell the antidote for the
T-Virus and make kajillions, they orchestrated these fake zombie attacks, and
showed them to the world, assuring a sure sell in all countries. After seeing
these fake zombie attacks, every country in the world would want the antidote.
But the virus got out of their control and you all know how that went, the world
became populated by zombies. So Alice
is trapped in this facility. Umbrella is trying to reprogram her because she’s
the rebel, the one who thinks for her self; but they can’t reprogram her, she’s
too strong. She soon finds a way to escape her cell and boom, the rest of the
film is her trying to escape this place. In this way it feels a bit like Stuart
Gordon’s Fortress (1992) or David Twohy’s The Chronicles of Riddick (2004),
where the main characters main mission is to escape a super prison. Unfortunately, it also feels like your watching a video game, passing to the next level, and beating a boss at the end.
That would all be fine and dandy, because hey, who doesnt love a bit of empty eye candy every once in a while, sadly, there’s no reason to care for anyone. These characters are like clones, simply there to push the next pointless action scene to the next level. But even a video game will have more of a plot then this film. Retribution felt like filler, there’s these boring fights that go on and on and on…there are not a lot of zombies in this film either which is what I loved about Extinction and Afterlife, on this one there’s more ‘Bio Hazards’, Umbrella Corporations monstrous experiments. Paul W. Anderson is the one who gets all the blame for this lifeless movie, because he not only directs these, but he also writes them. In this case, it felt as if
Anderson was simply going through the
motions, not even trying to pull off a good, involving film. Not only that, things
just don’t make sense this time around. For example in all previous films, Wesker is the main villain of the piece, on
this one he does a 360 and becomes a good guy trying to help Alice? What the? What about Wesker’s plans with Alice? Who the hell cares, all previous
storylines have been dropped, suddenly Wesker "doesn't work for umbrella anymore" we now have a new villain. Forget that Alice and Wesker have been enemies for the past four films, that they had been trying to kill each other since they first met. Now suddenly Wesker needs Alice, like I said, no sense at all. Story lines are dropped and changed
simply to shock you with the next cliff hanger ending that will assure your
butt will be there in the theater come next sequel. In that sense these films are not unlike a comic book, leaving you with that cliffhanger so you'll buy the next issue.
The action scenes are so freaking pointless, nobody is in peril on this movie. Everything is fake or cgi, characters escape danger in zero point five seconds, there’s no tension, no feeling of dread. Huge monsters appear and are dispatched in a matter of seconds. And the matrix style fighting has to be given some sort of break in movies! Something new is needed, seeing characters fighting the same exact way, doing the same exact moves, gets boring and redundant, by the way, thats what most of this movie feels like, more of the same. Another bummer: characters are not developed in the least! In the least! I can guarantee you will not care about a single character on this film. For example,
actually brings back a bunch of characters from the first film only to kill
them off in minutes? Characters are disposable on this film, simply empty
vessels to kill. Case in point: Michelle Rodriguez’s participation on this film.
It’s so pointless! Remember how in the first film she developed this friendship
with Alice and
you actually cared when she turns into a zombie? On this one, she is no one.
She’s a character with zero personality. Why is she even here? Just to add another
popular actress to the film, so they can sell it more effectively. As far as
the story goes, she is not an essential part and neither is anyone else on
board by the way, these are just characters who shoot guns. And hey, there’s
nothing wrong with brainless action, but come on, make it at the very least
interesting! Or funny! A good example of a fun brainless movie would be TheExpendables 2 (2012)! Now that was a violent, brainless yet completely fun flick! The only saving grace for me with this movie is the always beautiful Milla Jovovich, she looks great on this one and kicks ass like there's no tomorrow, sadly, she's the only shinning light on this post apocalyptic abyss.
To top things off,
continues aping other films he admires over and over again. In Extinction he
was aping Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and Day of the Dead (1985), in
Afterlife he aped Escape from New York (1981) and on this one he borrows
extensively from James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) right down to having some scenes
where Alice is ready to escape, but has to go back to rescue a little girl from
the clutches of a monster. By the way, the little girl is in a cocoon, just
like Newt in Aliens. He also borrows heavily from Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the
Dead (2004). Remember that whole sequence in Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead where
the main female character is waking up to a suburbia filled with chaos? Anderson does it here all over again, almost exactly the
same way, but with Alice.
I’ve noticed how much Anderson
does this in his films. He does it so shamelessly, he is kind of like a
cinematic parasite, I mean one thing is to be influenced by a film and another
is to copy whole scenes from a film you admire. Doesn’t Anderson have enough originality to come up
with his own film?
A scene from Dawn of the Dead (2004), sorry, I mean Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
Sadly, this film was a huge, huge disappointment for me. The story goes no where, there is no advancement, previous films seem to be ignored, new storylines introduced forcibly simply to keep pumping out movies, there’s no flow to this film. It feels like a bunch of video games stages strung together and called a film; it felt like filler to me. Even though they squeezed the characters of Ada Wong and Leon S. Kennedy both of which appeared in the second Resident Evil video game back in 1998, the film still feels like filler; like an unimportant film in a franchise. This my friends was a sequel that literally had nothing to say. I’ll give
Anderson this, he has impressed and
entertained me with his films in the past, for example, I still love Event
Horizon (1997), and on Retribution he still shows a knack for handling effects work very well, the opening sequence which starts in slow motion reverse and then goes and shows us the way it really happened in real time again...freaking sweet. So this movie while filled with imperfections, still demonstrates Anderson has a bit of a filmmaker in him. Sadly, with Retribution he is showing signs of fatigue as a director;
I sincerely hope he hasn’t lost his love for filmmaking; for doing films that
are worth while, for making good genre films. The ending is a grabber, it leaves the doors
open for what could potentially be an interesting sequel, but considering how
bad this fifth installment is, we’ll be lucky if we even get a sixth, which is supposed to be about humanities last stand
against the undead. Let’s hope Anderson
takes a stand against lazy, bad filmmaking as well. This film is enjoyable thrash, but I'm very demanding of my thrashy movies, here's hoping the next and potentially final installment will be a 'one-up' when compared to this one.
Rating: 2 out of 5