This series is probably one of my most guilty pleasures. Modern day B-movies that are just so bad but so fun to watch. Paul W.S. Anderson and his overuse of slow motion is laughable to the point where you expect to see one of his characters piss on a wall in slo-mo. Combine that with the fact that his wife Milla Jovovich is extremely easy on the eyes and can pull off Xena-style action very well and you have a recipe for what should only be mild success. However, the aforementioned couple has gone on record saying that they will continue to make these movies as long as they continue to be profitable; and this is the fifth film. Obviously they are doing something right.
Resident Evil: Retribution trailer, courtesy of Sony Pictures
HOW ALICE GOT HER GROOVE BACK Like I say with pretty much all sequels, if you are not caught up, I don’t know why you are reading this review, but if you need a refresher, read the review of the last movie. Resident Evil: Retribution begins right where Afterlife ended and I have to give Paul Anderson some credit. He finally made his slow motion work. Watching and action sequence in slow motion in reverse has been done before and it was used for a zombie story no less (Dead Island), but this is the first time it was used in this series and it was fantastic. Just when Alice and crew think they have beaten Wesker and have the upper hand, the Arcadia is obliterated by what seems to be all of Umbrella’s forces. Tossed into the Pacific, it seems our heroine is done for but she awakens in a bed, married to Todd or Carlos or whoever the hell Oded Fehr plays in this film. They also have a daughter named Becky (Aryana Engineer) who is deaf (great! a deaf girl in a horror movie!). Things quickly fall apart as Raccoon City is torn apart by zombies and Alice wakes up in a dress made out of loose leaf paper just as a zombie eats her head. Now she is on a floor with an umbrella logo and things really get freaky. Just about everyone she has ever met in the past movie, in particular, those who have died, are there and most of them are trying to kill her. Her only ally is Ada Wong whose employer makes Alice rather nervous. They must work their way through this Umbrella test factory while every manner of zombie monster tries to tear them apart. If you ever imagined a Resident Evil game mixed with the gameplay of Shadow of the Colossus, then this is the movie for you to see.
LOOK AWAY, BABY, LOOK AWAY I have to giggle and try not to burst out into laughter when one asks me about the acting in this movie. I have a lot of love for a lot of the actors in this film, but when the person with the best lines and the best acting in your film is Michelle Rodriguez (sorry, I still love you girl), you have a problem. Fortunately, this is the type of movie that relies on one-liners and does not require a whole lot of talking because Milla’s performance, in terms of speaking, was mostly abysmal. Honestly, this may have been her worst vocal performance yet for the series. They did Boris Kodjoe wrong. His role was so diminished in this film. Despite Luther really coming through for Alice, when you compare what happened to him in the last movie, fans will be pissed. Bingbing Li was underused as Ada Wong and rightfully so because if they had kept her in the entire film, she would have outshined Alice in terms of badassery. Michelle Rodriguez’ double role was cool, but her bad guy self really did outshine Alice in the end. This chick would have escaped with Ripley. Sienna Guillory should have sued to be taken out of this movie. All she did for the entire movie was stand there with her jumpsuit open and do the Jiggle Billy while her guns were a’blazin’. This movie was one stinkhole of a performance. Thank God that no one who goes to see it expects anything but that. Because the movie lived up to expectations in that regard, it gets a thumbs up!
MISSING THE MARK All of the RE movies have had decent special effects in my opinion. The one exception being the choice to use makeup for Nemesis; that just looked awful. The last film and Retribution have had the best visual effects which was to be expected. The problem is that how they were used left a bit to be desired. In Afterlife, Alice had her own “Army of Me” and they all died in like 2 minutes, a complete waste. In this film, you had the potential to make her fight an Alice army and that was skipped over in favor of reusing the giant Licker from the first movie. Honestly, bringing back elements from the earlier films was a genius move, but I still would have liked to see Alice fight herself. I won’t complain too much though because the next film looks like it will be an absolute free-for-all.
WAIT WHAT?This is definitely one of those instances where the music was so forgettable that I did not even care to pay attention to it. When the flick ended there was some dubstep and that’s about it. You would think that with Anderson being a leadfoot on the slow pedal that he would have some elaborate piano music punctuating his wife’s gunplay but this was nowhere to be found. This is honestly something that needs to be worked on in the next installment.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the film that I love to dump on and tell you to go see at the same time. Get a group of friends, sit back and enjoy the mindlessness of it all. From the irony of a deaf girl in this situation to Alice magically learning sign language to Michelle Rodriguez’ heart-stopping performance, there is nothing but fun to be had in this idiotic masterpiece. Paul W.S. Anderson has completely run out of ideas and said “fuck it,” I am just going to make a live action video game and play it on insane mode. I am shocked that no movie tie-in game was made for this. I am still puzzled as to why Alice’s character has never been inserted into the real Resident Evil game world, but that is a whole different story. Long time fans will be happy to know that (SPOILER) Alice is back (/SPOILER) and you know what that means for the sixth movie. Yes, don’t run out and buy a box set yet folks, there will be at least one more flick, I guarantee you. The bottom line is this: if you saw the last four, you need to watch this one and if you just want a movie where you can let your brain shut down for 95 minutes then look no further.