RESIDENT EVIL: RETRITUBION
*1/2 (out of 5)
September 14, 2012
Milla Jovovich as ALICE
Sienna Guillory as JILL VALENTINE
Michelle Rodriguez as RAIN
Aryana Engineer as BECKY
Bingbing Li as ADA WONG
Boris Kodjoe as LUTHER WEST
Johann Urb as LEON S. KENNEDY
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Earlier this week, I said to a friend that the “Resident Evil” movies are starting to make me lose faith in Paul W.S. Anderson. His response was, “Starting?”
To my friend’s credit, he does have a point. Anderson hasn’t had much of a stellar career. Indeed, the last “Resident Evil” movie, subtitled “Afterlife,” was his return to the series in which his first two installments were watchable but not spectacular. And last year’s “The Three Musketeers” was horrendously goofy and poorly made.
But I am not ashamed to admit that I was actually once a fan of Anderson’s films. “Event Horizon” is still a chilling sci-fi horror flick that works some really excellent scares. And for all the negative reviews it received, “Alien vs. Predator” is still quite fun. Throw in the first two “Resident Evil” films, and the first half of his career has more hits than misses, in my opinion.
But now he has stagnated. Like Len Wiseman and wifey Kate Beckinsale making the “Underworld” films, Anderson has fallen into a rut of revisiting a tired franchise with more gimmicks than substance. The difference is that Anderson’s muse is his own main squeeze, Milla Jovovich, who is quite fetching in tight black leather but has never been a great actress.
Anderson continues his current drain circling by striving to bring the “Resident Evil” series back to the world of video games. Rather than working in a comprehensible plot, “Resident Evil: Retribution” follows a gaming model. There’s a narrative introduction to the film, recapping the previous movies. Then there’s some really cool action. Then there’s what appears to be some exposition as to what this movie is about (though it’s as confused as Clint Eastwood during an improvised stand-up routine). Finally, the characters are presented with a maze of sorts filled with bad guys they have to destroy.
It’s actually a good thing the plot of this film makes no sense because there is very little focus on it at all. In fact, I’m still somewhat confused as to what was going on, what was real and what had happened or was going to happen.
Fans of the gaming world will probably enjoy the film’s set-up, which includes intermissions in which the movie literally talks to itself as well as cameos by previous characters and monsters. In fact, I half-believed this movie was, indeed, a video game that Paul W.S. Anderson was playing in his underwear while smoking a bong.
Forget the trailers of the film because they have no bearing on the actual film. Like “The Apparition” from several weeks ago, “Resident Evil: Retribution” doesn’t even follow the simple log line of the film. Instead of being a story of the T-virus going global with the Umbrella Corporation taking control of various cities around the world (which is clearly stated in the film’s advertising), the movie is about Alice (Jovovich) – who may or may not be a clone… never quite figured that one out – who has to escape Umbrella’s testing facility so she can fight in the infected in the real world.
Maybe this is a new trend in Hollywood to buck last year’s trend of giving away the whole movie in the trailers. Now they’re cutting trailers that literally tell a different story than the one in the film. I can’t say this is a better marketing strategy.
The strangest thing about “Resident Evil: Retribution” is that it has some really good elements to it. The action sequences are pretty neat to watch, even though some overstay their welcome by a mile and often make little sense to the rest of the film. I’m always game to watch fit actresses like Jovovich and Sienna Guillory run around in tight leather. But even with all this hedonistic charm, the movie disintegrates within only a couple scenes.
Plus, Anderson commits a grand cinematic crime by ripping off concepts, ideas and entire shots from better films. In this case, he’s sampling from the “Alien” film series (including his own “Alien vs. Predator”) like Vanilla Ice.
What was once a promising franchise, the “Resident Evil” films have quickly become the mildly entertaining party guest who simply refuses to go home even after you’re waking up the next day and cleaning up the empty beer bottles.