The Resident Evil film series is a good example of how Hollywood can take an existing thing and then make it something that completely betrays what it was in order to sell it to a larger audience –with good box office results. Any real fan of the Resident Evil games would be quick to say that the films fail to do justice to the material of the games (or if not outright insults the original story), but the figures do not lie: good adaptation or not, the films sell well, and it makes one wonder why the studio even bothered licensing the title.
What is Resident Evil: Retribution
This is the sixth installment of the Resident Evil film franchise and continues the tale of Alice, the protagonist of the series, as she uncovers the truth about who (or what) she is, and how she determines her own role in the zombie apocalypse.
In the world of the Resident Evil movies, the world has been overrun by zombie created by viral infection developed by the Umbrella Corporation. Umbrella is a multinational company that fronts itself as a pharmaceutical giant, but it also involves itself with plenty of illegal research into weaponized viruses (as well as other things that can be weaponized).
The film opens with Alice and the survivors of the previous film aboard a ship being attacked by a brainwashed Jill Valentine. When the ship sinks, Alice wakes up, captured inside a secret Umbrella base in Russia. When she is rescued by Ada Wong, she is told that base was designed to simulate the effects of the T-Virus and uses clones as guinea pigs in the simulations (supposedly, as a way to market the virus to buyers). Ada also tells her that a separate team lead by Leon Kennedy is attacking the base as well, and the two decide to team up in order to meet up with Leon’s squad and get to safety.
Plenty of Locations, Plenty of Action
Despite the film being set entirely inside the Russian base, the simulations that are run are all based on previous actual events where the virus was spread –allowing the characters to encounter zombies in various situations such as the suburbs of Raccoon City, the streets of Shibuya, New York, and Moscow. It’s a good narrative excuse to send characters from one insane setting to another that manages to remain plausible in the script. This is actually a pretty well played element in the film and is actually something that the game developers should consider adapting as well (though in the actual Resident Evil 6 game, the six protagonists are spread up as pairs allowing for the game to showcase a wide variety of locations as well).
Everyone Throws Something at the Screen
One of the worst things about a film that was “made for 3D” is the fact that it gets very gimmicky with the camera work. In order to emphasize the fact that you can see stuff in 3D (if you do decide to watch it in 3D), plenty of bullets, debris, and other sorts of projectiles are thrown towards the screen in order to achieve the effect of stuff popping out of the screen. The result is that some of the action sequences are abruptly interrupted by weird camera angles. It is a bit of a cheap effect and should have been used more sparingly.
Not the Game We Know
Considering the fact that this is already the sixth film in the franchise, it is all but an expected thing that the movie will not do justice for the characters and the story. Still it begs to be pointed out. First off, Leon Kennedy is depicted is a bit of a rogue instead of being the hot-shot ace/rookie that he is. Second, Ada Wong loses all her strong womanly charms as a dangerous secret agent/femme fatale in exchange for a more youthful aura and appearance. On a good note, the whole “brainwashed with scarab look” on Ali Larter’s Jill Valentine (which is a nod to the story of the Resident Evil 5 game) actually looks good onscreen.
Still Good to See
The good twist here is that while the film obviously has strayed away from the game long ago, it actually mans up to its decision to do so. We will not spoil the ending of the movie, but it actually lays down the foundation for a very insane storyline that would actually be extremely fun to watch if the next film gets a huge enough budget to film such as highly ambitious setup.