Resident Evil: Retribution is a lazy movie and one that despite a $65 million budget, felt so much smaller as the cast are contained more or less in one location (given Tokyo, Moscow and NYC were all computer simulations) but even so, situations are created that make no sense and you have characters who make decisions which not only defy logic but would’ve kept them out of unnecessary fights.
Genre(s): Action, Horror
Sony | R – 96 min. – $45.99 | December 21, 2012
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer(s): Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Sienna Guillory, Shawn Roberts, Arvana Engineer, Colin Salmon, Li Bingbing, Boris Kodjoe
Theatrical Release Date: September 14, 2012
Features: 2 Feature Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted/Extended Scenes, Outtakes
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, English Spanish
Disc Size: 42.3 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 1.5/5
“…what’s with the S&M getup?”
That’s probably the most pertinent (and insightful) question posed, though never answered, in the latest in the shockingly long-running Resident Evil franchise entitled Resident Evil: Retribution, though I think the retribution part is geared more towards viewers than any villain or monster.
Retribution opens with the final battle sequence on the aircraft carrier at the end of Afterlife in which Alice (MILLA JOVOVICH) has drowned. Through a nifty process this all begins with it playing backwards before going full speed forwards. Other than looking nice, not sure why it was presented as it was, but it was a cool opening. This is followed by a narration from Alice relaying the events, also through archived footage, that has occurred over the course of the previous four films.
We then cut to Alice waking up in suburbia next to husband Carlos (ODED FEHR) before going downstairs and cooking breakfast for their deaf child, Becky (ARYANA ENGINEER). There’s no time for explanation as to why she’s deaf because Carlos turns to change his coffee-stained shirt and encounters a zombie who takes out his face via that squid (or whatever) out of his mouth. Now the chase/run is on as Alice and child attempt to make a hasty escape and eventually get outside and find an old face from the first film: Rain Ocampo, played by Michelle Rodriguez, who has a car but they don’t get too far as they crash with hundreds of zombies giving chase. Alice and Becky then duck into another house and while the child is safe in hiding, poor Alice receives the face-hugger treatment.
Worry not, the film then cuts to Alice inside an Umbrella Corporation interrogation room wearing on a thin piece of paper both in front and behind (apparently nudity is a no-go for Jovovich now) and she’s getting questioned by former ally Jill Valentine (SIENNA GUILLORY) who is under the control of the Red Queen – the sentient behind Umbrella – via a glowing red scarab attached to her chest. Suddenly everything goes dark and the network has been taken over by a former enemy apparently turned friend (sort of) in Albert Wesker (SHAWN ROBERTS) opening a drawer in the room which conveniently is molded to hold her boots and corset; similar thing happened in Underworld: Awakening in which Beckinsale’s Selina’s slinky outfit was waiting for her in the room.
Alice manages to get changed, with body mesh underneath, and gets into a white lined hallway and is eventually guided to what looks like downtown Tokyo. But it isn’t as she discovers it’s all a simulation, with citizens-turned-zombies and all, and the monsters begin to chase Alice and as you can guess, ass-kicking ensues. After that bit of action, she runs into assassin Ada Wong (BINGBING LI), yet another enemy-turned-friend, and the pair goes on the run in the facility battling monsters in different city simulations including New York City – with child in tow as Alice finds her at the house where the other Alice died. Oh, and they also must fight against Umbrella’s clone security forces that include bad Rain and Carlos.
Meanwhile, a rescue crew has been sent to the Umbrella Research Facility (it’s in the snow-covered middle of nowhere Russia) to retrieve Alice and Ada, taking them back to civilization where the world is in chaos (which we will see in the final shot). This crew consists of Burton (KEVIN DURAND), Kennedy (JOHANN URB), Sergei (ROBIN KASYANOV) and the surprise return of Luther West (BORIS KODJOE) who was thought to have perished in Afterlife.
You can guess where the movie goes from here as we have the two sets go through the maze of simulations – the rescue team battle Russian military zombies – and try to make their way out before the charges the team set before entering goes off. Yep, “bada boom” surely to come (that’s a little Fifth Element reference there…).
Truth be told, I’ve never been enamored with the Resident Evil series, partly because I’m not a fan of zombie movies outside of Dawn of the Dead (old and new) and Shaun of the Dead, plus I’ve never played the video game so there’s no connection on a source basis either. However, I did find the first movie relatively entertaining while the sequels were at least tolerable, if not forgettable. But with Retribution, writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson tries a bit too hard to bring back some fan favorite characters and in the process the plot becomes convoluted and even slightly confusing.
Outside of the plot, it just seemed like veteran franchise star Milla Jovovich looked like she was merely going through the motions. Yeah, she still looks good in the outfit and does a good job kicking ass (with props to her stunt double) yet you got the sense that she wasn’t on her game. That being said, I can’t fault her too much as she is going on 10 years with the character (and the variations) so with a potential sixth, and final, Resident Evil film in the works, she might be looking forward to moving on.
The supporting cast is decent and while the explanation for the return of some of them is lame (clones), I suppose it’s nice to see them back in any form. Michelle Rodriguez gets two parts, a good and bad, with the latter get the most work including a final fight sequence that shouldn’t even have happened if our heroes weren’t such dumb asses as she injects herself with the Las Plagas parasite giving her superhuman strength and invincibility (they had plenty of opportunity to shoot her before the injection). But Rodriguez, albeit in it for the paycheck, looked like was having a good time. Oded Fehr’s return is minimal and mostly thankless and probably more as a favor to the producer and/or director. And finally Boris Kodjoe is a breath of fresh air and I really wish he got a movie of his own.
On the plus side, I did think some of the visual effects were good, especially given the budget, the monsters were creative (if not recycled) and the score by “tomandandy” was excellent, in particular the opening title sequence ‘Flying Through the Air’ is well worth the $0.99 to download on Amazon.com or iTunes. And, of course, Jovovich looks great but that’s all superficial.
However, minor positives aside, the plot is pretty bad/lazy, the cast didn’t look like they cared and it appears this franchise has run its course. It should be noted that Retribution does end on another cliffhanger and I only hope they once again open up the world more because this one felt closed in and felt like a video game with different challenge levels rather than a motion picture with a fluid three act structure.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.75/5
This release comes with a glossy slip cover with a lenticular front cover. The first disc contains both the 2D and 3D versions and the second disc is reserved for more features. Inside is a download code for the UltraViolet digital copy.
Feature Commentaries – As with a couple of the other RE releases, there are two tracks included: 1) Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson & Actors Milla Jovovich and Boris Kodjoe and 2) Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt. The first track is more oriented with on-set anecdotes and much more light-hearted (and slightly annoying when Jovovich speaks) while the second is far more technical and interesting.
Deleted Scenes (12:35; HD) – There are five scenes that for one reason or another (probably pacing, though) were removed or cut down from the final release. None of them here are all that informative or would add to the story. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Outtakes (4:36; HD) contain the standard line flubs, prop malfunctions and on-set antics.
Previews – The Amazing Spider-Man, Men in Black 3, Resident Evil: Afterlife
Project Alice: The Interactive Database – With this feature, you can view clips and read various files and learn about the different characters from all the Resident Evil movies. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Maestro of Evil: Directing Resident Evil: Retribution (8:06; HD) has cast/crew interviews with particular focus on director Paul W.S. Anderson. It’s mainly superficial stuff here. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Evolving Alice (6:50; HD) is another behind-the-scenes featurette that covers the heroine throughout the franchise. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Resident Evil: Reunion (9:42; HD) tackles the return of cast members (Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr, etc.) who previously believed to be dead and how they came back for this installment. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Design & Build: The World of Resident Evil: Retribution (9:11; HD) takes a look at the production and visual effects with the movie. It’s a bit more interesting than the others. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Drop (Un) Dead: The Creatures of Retribution (6:58; HD) checks out the various creatures featured in the film going into the make-up and VFX for the mandible zombies.
Resident Stuntman (6:17; HD) looks at the stunt work and the preparation involved to filming some of the fight sequences. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Code: Mika (5:34; HD) – This last featurette focuses on the “J Pop Girl” character played by Mika Nakashima for the Tokyo environment recreated from Afterlife.
Resident Evil: Retribution – Face of the Fan (3:17; HD) features a young woman, who won a walk-on role by submitting a video for a casting call, and she takes us behind-the-scenes. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Last are some Capcon Game Trailers (‘Resident Evil 6’, ‘Devil May Cry’, ‘Dragon’s Dogma’).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Resident Evil: Retribution is presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition (MPEG-4 codec). The Resident Evil movies have always looked dark and this one is no exception though there are some lighter shots which really pop off the screen (i.e. when Alice wakes up in the interrogation chamber). Detail levels are impressive as are the darker shots which do not show off any form of artifacting or pixilation.
The 3D version is also good featuring nice depth and although the picture tends to get darker, it doesn’t detract from the details; ghosting is also minimal. I’ve seen better 3D effects and don’t care for movies that try to fling objects in order to make use of it, yet it’s still effective enough.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The supplied 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is both immersive and diverse. The movie is pretty much 90% action so each channel gets the full treatment from flying bullets, roaring monsters, general environmental elements and, of course, the score by “tomandandy”. The bass also kicks in many times including the backward/forward opening sequence and other action scenes which always stayed consistent rather than overbearing.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Resident Evil: Retribution is a lazy movie and one that despite a $65 million budget, felt so much smaller as the cast are contained more or less in one location (given Tokyo, Moscow and NYC were all computer simulations) but even so, situations are created that make no sense and you have characters who make decisions which not only defy logic but would’ve kept them out of unnecessary fights. The Blu-ray at least has a fair amount of special features and the video/audio transfers are both exceptional.