Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution

Is There An Afterlife?

Rated: R Sequences of strong violence
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writers: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Aryana Engineer, Boris Kodjoe, Johann Urb, Kevin Durand, Oded Fehr, Colin Salmon, Shawn Roberts, BingBing Li

SYNOPSIS:  The woman known as Project Alice is revived and interrogated in an Umbrella base. Aided by outside human forces, Alice must fight against the undead and BioHazards to escape.

For a summary of the Road So Far in the Resident Evil film series, click here

REVIEW: Paul W.S. Anderson, writer of each of the five entries of the Resident Evil franchise of films, returns to the director's chair he helmed for Resident Evil: Afterlife to continue the horror video-game-turned-movie-franchise centered around a gun-toting, high-kicking woman named Alice.
As the events on the freighter Arcadia come to a close, Alice (Milla Jovovich, The Three Musketeers) is jettisoned into the water by a helicopter's crash and explosion. When she awakens, the life of warrior Alice has been replaced by one where she lives in suburbia with her husband Todd (Oded Fehr, The Mummy) and daughter Becky (Aryana Engineer, Orphan), When the infected undead break into their home, Alice and Becky escape to the street, where they are rescued by a neighbor (Michelle Rodriguez, Battle: Los Angeles). When they are cornered, the suburban life is replaced by a cold sterile holding cell where a shivering lonely Alice is contained. After several rounds of interrogation by controlled Umbrella Operative Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory, Resident Evil: Afterlife), a break in the computer system allows Alice to escape, accompanied by former Umbrella Assassin Ada Wong (BingBing Li, The Forbidden Kingdom) under the employ of former Umbrella Leader Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief). With little time remaining, Alice, Becky, Ada, and Rain must battle their way through the Red Queen's underwater proving grounds against the infected undead, Bio Hazards, and the Red Queen's own machinations to meet up with a team of human mercenaries Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb, 1408), Sergei (Robin Kasyanov, Warehouse 13), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand, Real Steel), Tony (Ofilio Portillo, You Got Served: Beat the World), and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe, Surrogates) set to retrieve them.

Resident Evil: Retribution begins just as 
Resident Evil: Afterlife ends. As Jill Valentine and the Umbrella Corporation's aerial armada bears down on the outgunned Alice on the freighter Arcadia, Alice has no choice but to run. Afterward, Alice brings the audience up to speed as to the initial spread of the T-Virus and to the current state of a world in chaos. Most of the survivors of : Afterlife quickly and quietly end up in the afterlife with little fanfare. Gone are Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), K-Mart (Spencer Locke) and Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) as if they never existed. Where in previous franchise entries, a few characters cross over between the end credits of one story and the titles of the next, Resident Evil: Retribution scraps the sake of character continuity to mind screw us with an Umbrella Corporation remote controlled Jill Valentine, a found Luther West, and a variety of Umbrella cloned character thugs in the form of Rain, One (Colin Salmon), and Carlos (Oded Fehr).

I am a huge fan of the film series, and of Milla Jovovich. Unfortunately, Retribution really didn't live up to my expectations. Just to remind you of my track record for the franchise - I loved the original entry, disliked Apocalypse due to the style of the Nemesis, enjoyed Extinction for its post-apocalyptic desert motif, and thought Afterlife had great visuals that returned the series to a more video game aesthetic. Retribution continues immediately after Afterlife finishes, but Anderson returns the plotline to something more akin to the original, with Alice and a group of mercenary humans trying to navigate a new version of the Red Queen's Hive in the form of a retrofitted Russian submarine pen facility that houses replicas of major world cities where a Red Queen run Umbrella Corporation continue to run scenarios to test the effects of the T-Virus on a sample population. The weapon systems are off the hook, Alice's new outfit is Matrix cool, and the Alice-centric fight scenes are slick and well choreographed. Where Retribution derails is in the plotline, the stilted dialogue, the look of some the Red Queen's minions, and lack of subplot conflict. And the fact that some of the characters that we have grown fond of from previous entries have been reduced to manufactured replicas, other than Luther, takes a little bit away from the mythology that Anderson had created thus far.

As I said before, I love Milla Jovovich. And she does not disappoint as Alice. Whether dispatching Bio Hazards or caring for an abandoned child, Milla's Alice still rocks. Kodjoe's Luther West manages to keep a shred of continuity from Afterlife. Johann Urb's Leon Kennedy strikes the stage like a cross between Dolph Lundgren and Josh Holloway, but in a good way. Kevin Durand, such an imposing figure, works his character Barry Burton like he was Sgt. Rock from the comics - with a quip and a cigar on his lips and a blazing gun in his hand. Shawn Roberts Wesker is always an enigma behind his sunglasses, like a distant cousin of the Matrix's Agent Smith. BingBing Li's Ada Wong takes fashion tips from Alice herself as the newest premiere former Umbrella Corporation agent. And, finally, Aryana Engineer's young Becky adds a little bit of humanity similar to Aliens Newt, but on a more finite scale.
If you ever watch the Discovery Channel's Mythbusters, you know that there is no way that soldiers, assassins, and Umbrella Corporation projects could keep up a sustained firefight against the undead and distorted mutated abominations. Anderson handles the problem of endless ammunition with super-rad guns with a seriously oversized magazine. It still may not be realistic, but the weapon system looks cool and, at least, addresses the reality of the dilemma. It's just a disappointment that Anderson did not do more with the manufactured city centers of Moscow, New York, and 'Suburbia' that the Umbrella Corporation created for their testing grounds. At least he added in a couple hulking Bio Hazards to lend more video gamer satisfaction to the mix.

Resident Evil: Retribution, as the fifth entry in the Alice franchise, keeps the mythology going. With Paul W.S. Anderson at the pen throughout the series, and at the helm for these last two films, you know he cares about the world he helped to shape from the successful video game series. Sometimes, though, one needs to take a step back in order to propel the effort forward.

WORTH: DVD or Rental

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