DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Alyson Court as CLAIRE REDFIELD
    Paul Mercier as LEON S. KENNEDY
    Laura Bailey as ANGELA MILLER
    Roger Craig Smith as CURTIS MILLER
    Crispin Freeman as FREDERIC DOWNING
    Michelle Ruff as RANI CHAWLA
    Michael Sorich as SENATOR RON DAVIS

    Rated R
    Studio: Capcom

    Directed by: Makoto Kamiya

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I have always approached the “Resident Evil” films in a unique way. I’ve never played any of the video games, but I have seen all the movies. Unlike most critics, I have enjoyed them to some degree, although the last one was pretty lame.

I also have a huge affinity for horror movies but don’t generally consider myself a zombie fan. However, I do recognize that the universe enveloping the “Resident Evil” stories is much richer and deeper than your average zombie experience.

The unofficial “Resident Evil 4” film is now out on DVD. Called “Resident Evil: Degeneration,” this is a full-CGI film made by Capcom and the Japanese arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment. It draws from the mythos in the video games and ignores the overall story arc of the preceding three films.

The story follows the destruction of Raccoon City seven years ago, and a new zombie outbreak has occurred. A home-grown terrorist has stolen the T-virus and the even more horrifying G-virus and threatens to unleash them on the world. It’s up to activist Claire Redfield and agent Leon Kennedy to track down the terrorist and keep the viruses contained.

Within seconds of watching this film, it was clear that the movie was made for the fans of the video game series. The CGI, which is still pretty impressive for a direct-to-DVD feature, looks very much like a video game, and it borrows the characters from the series, utilizing them more traditionally than the other films did.

Where the big-screen “Resident Evil” series was Hollywood’s take on just another scrap of source material, “Degeneration” tries to be something the fans will enjoy. There’s some very noticeable Japanese influence in the animation and the music, making it seem like a very high-resolution version of an Anime film.

Being bound by CGI, this movie swerves into a greater plot than we’ve seen in the other films. Those movies hinged on special effects and giant action moments, often leaving the story behind. However, with a full-CGI movie, every shot is an effects shot. This allows the filmmakers to enjoy the technology to tell a story as opposed to only shooting up zombies for a half hour.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of action in the film. In fact, the action is greater in scope than we’ve seen before, climaxing with one hell of a battle between our heroes and a man who has been mutated into a grotesque monster by the G-virus. Being in the realm of full-CGI, this movie actually manages to have a grander scope on its virtual sets.

The DVD comes with a decent slate of special features, including a sneak peek at the “Resident Evil 5” video game (which looks like it would make a pretty nifty movie to boot), voice bloopers, a fake interview with Leon, character profiles and trailers for the film as well as many other Sony horror flicks.

There’s also a thirty minute documentary about the making of this film, although much of it is in Japanese with English subtitles.

You don’t need to have seen the first three “Resident Evil” movies, nor do you have to be a gamer to understand the film. The plot isn’t too complicated, and there’s enough explanation to figure it out. However, I imagine if you are a fan of the game, and to a lesser degree a fan of the films, you should enjoy this zombie splatterfest.

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