Resident Evil: Retribution

The Red Queen: "You're all going to die down here."

This series is getting a little long in the tooth. Ten years, five movies, and they still haven't wrapped up the story. As a fan of the franchise (including the video games) I'm impressed with how complicated they've made the overall structure of this twisting narrative. Watching all of the previous four films back to back, which I did as preparation for this new one, you can see a definite story unfolding gradually. Unfortunately that over-arching structure is not that clear when you view each installment individually. I commend the writers for creating such a long form plot, but maybe the series would be better served with individual stories with fully fleshed out characters.

Don't get me wrong, I did like this movie. It had great action scenes, awesome visuals, the introduction of key characters from the video game source material (Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong, and Barry Barton), and another killer cliffhanger to get us hopping to see the next one (which is supposed to be the last one). Except, they didn't really pay off the introduction of those new characters. They were cool, and it dawned on me about three-quarters of the way through that most of the supporting cast was now characters from the video game, but not enough attention was given to making them feel like real people.

Which is a bit of a shame, considering most of the characters throughout the series have felt at least moderately real, if a bit shallow because we never got to know them beyond the events of that movie. Of course, that's a problem with pretty much any action movie. Which is why long series like this one bring back characters, so that you don't need to develop emotional attachments to characters with only minutes of screen time, because you've already made that connection in a previous installment.

I guess I should explain that there is an interesting plot device in this one, that brings back key dead characters from the previous installments. They do serve a purpose for the plot, and brought some interesting emotional baggage for our main character Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she reacted to their resurrections. The entire series is really her story, and as such, she is the most fully developed character. I like Jovovich's portrayal of Alice because she consistently manages to balance being both vulnerable emotionally and a powerful presence physically. It makes her the driving force of the series, but occasionally they focus a bit too much on her.

Some people have complained that we didn't get to see the events from the games represented exactly on screen. In fact the movies diverge significantly from the source material. For me, I think I enjoy the separation of the two stories. It's like getting two version of the same idea, re-writing characters and utilizing ideas in different ways, with the results being vastly different, but vaguely similar. Much like True Blood, which I admit isn't always great, the idea of taking liberties with the original story can be wildly fun. Which is probably why there is so much fan fiction out there.

You guys might have noticed I'm not talking about the movie that much. Well, the reason for that is that simply talking about any of the plot would be spoilery. I thought it was an excellent addition to the overall franchise, but it wasn't that great when viewed standing on its own.

2 1/2 out of 4 Resurrected characters that aren't zombies.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

1 comment:

Josie Kafka said...

"2 1/2 out of 4 Resurrected characters that aren't zombies."

What a great "out of" line! I love that it makes sense,too. What a wonderful site we have, where a statement like that is perfectly intelligible.

I've only watched the first installment in this series, and I liked it a lot. Milla Jovovich is awesome, and I'm so fascinated by the way she has become this franchise. Fairly easy on the eyes, too.