[BD Review] ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ Is Mind-Melting Eye-Candy

The Resident Evil franchise drives me absolutely insane. There’s nothing more frustrating to a critic than having to give a film a “pass.” Meaning, it’s literally impossible to review Resident Evil: Retribution on its own merits (unless it’s the only one seen) as it must be looked at in comparison to the prior entries. As far as a Paul W.S. Anderson Resident Evil goes, it was a mind-melting popcorn film gelled with insane amounts of action-packed eye-candy. A “good” movie? Well…

Retribution has a lot of great ideas that both hinder the film, yet help progress it (something I unfortunately can’t talk about with ruing the finale). The latest entry really focuses on the “clone” aspect of the franchise as Alice is now in the captivity of Umbrella, only to be freed by rogue Umbrella agents who have now learned that they were nothing more than “the baddies.” In order to save mankind, they must free Alice from the facility (with the help of familiar mercenaries). Said facility is a secret underground base that has various test scenarios built for experimentation on clones and the T-virus. This is how Alice goes “global”. In order to escape, she must battle through Moscow, suburbia, New York, and other major arenas. Along the way she comes face-to-face with her “daughter” who has no idea she’s a clone, too, and motherly instinct kicks in driving Anderson to rip-off James Cameron’s Aliens (he literally steals the dynamic between Ripley and Newt, copies the flashing lights, and even concludes with a big battle between Alice/Ripley and the Licker/Queen Alien).

The biggest issue with Retribution is that many of returning cast are clones, and that it (once again) doesn’t take place in any sort of “real” world (I want to see normal humans in peril – like in the first film – not a bunch of superheroes in slow motion). Anderson attempts to bring a bit of realism into this world by continuing the subplot where Wesker has taken Alice’s powers. He tells the viewer this by displaying Alice holding her stomach here and there, but somehow Alice still has super fighting abilities and can kick ass like no other. She suffers from “Superman syndrome” by appearing to be infallible (in complete irony, Aliens is amazing because Ripley is fallible, the one thing Anderson forgets to rip off).

While the script unsurprisingly suffers from Anderson’s cold grasp (after the opening sequence he spends a good 5 minutes recapping the entire franchise, which made more sense than anything I’ve seen onscreen the past 8 years), he does manage to dazzle with his visual effects work. The film opens in stunning reverse slow motion setting up Alice’s capture. There’s no lack of fight sequences, all of which are all beautifully orchestrated. And there’s a heft of sweet visual effects work that popped on the IMAX 3-D screen. It becomes obvious, though, that Anderson has a bit too much creative freedom as he goes a bit overboard by riffing on the Crank-esque X-ray shots that are so 2000 (you know, showing the bones breaking, and hearts stopping inside of the body).

Good or bad, it’s time to be honest – the sole reason any of us watch these movies is to see Milla Jovovich kicking ass in a skintight outfit. This time we’re also blessed with Sienna Guillory squeezed into a tight blue Jill Valentine costume (even though her acting was appalling). Still, I couldn’t help but wish that Michelle Rodriguez had a larger role. In fact, it made me wish she had a bigger role in everything. I can only hope that with the inevitable sixth installment she becomes “the” villain.

I wish Sony Screen Gems would just kick Paul W.S. Anderson to the curb and restart this franchise inside a house with a horde of practical zombies. With that said, Resident Evil: Retribution gets a resentful pass. It’s “fine” for what it is; it’s like watching a real-life videogame loaded with awesome creatures, nonstop action, and a jaw-dropping, massive scope. If anything, it’s the best Resident Evil since the first. At least there’s that, right?

Official Score

  • Chaz

    These movies are always going to be nothing but disappointing and awful. I wish Paul W.S. Anderson would quit with all of the stupid 3D action and make an actual horror movie of the first and second resident evil games. This franchise is in desperate need of a reboot and new directors. I’m so glad the Silent Hill movie didn’t suck.

  • Mr.Mirage

    “Good or bad, it’s time to be honest – the sole reason any of us watch these movies is to see Milla Jovovich kicking ass in a skintight outfit.”

    Uh, duh. Been saying it all along.

    As films, they are all, at their absolute best (and my being equally charitable of nature), as mentioned, popcorn flicks: the ones you go to just to throw an arm out and a leg up and watch shit blow up. Sometimes, that is what you want. Apparently for over a decade people like Arnold, Bruce and Sly made a living at it. SFW? WTF? So we like this sort of thing now and then… and Milla? Worth my ticket to see Those Eyes on the big screen.

    I will see it. I will most likely enjoy it. I do not anticipate anything other that sburg (Shit Blowed Up Real Good) for the length of it…. and Milla. Damn. I wish I was young again.

  • Evil_Nik

    Going to go see it today…. But I agree wholeheartily about Screengems dropping Paul S. Anderson. They really need to reboot this film series and get back to the basics of the game.

  • undertaker78

    Resident Evil: Retribution felt like you were immersed into a video game. I found myself at times moving side to side like I was the one controlling the action on my big screen at home. The action is off the hook, the 3D is epic and overall is a fun ride.

    It still feels like Resident Evil but has a different tone to make it stand on its own. Even if you’re not a fan of the others because “they’re not like the games,” well guess what, this one has a video game feel to it.

    • xxEnOxx

      I felt the same way. With the use of the “Red Queen” character the video game feel was definitely there. I thought the movie was “ok” I mean who can beat watching Milla for 90 plus min.

  • Seth_Adams

    Okay. So, this movie was better than the last one, but honestly that isn’t saying much. I was honestly bored from start to finish. The only characters that tickled my fancy were Leon and Barry. Other than that this movie was terrible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/discodirk47 Leslie Dalzell

    zzzzzzzzz