In 1997 relatively new director Paul W.S.Anderson made an interesting little movie called Event Horizon. Coming across as a mix between Hellraiser and Star Trek – The Motion Picture, it starred Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and Kathleen Quinlan. The movie revolved around investigating a spaceship that had years prior disappeared into a black hole and only to now return again with something different now on board. The film was chopped to bits upon its release, but even with the trimming it came across as a very weird and disturbing trip into the unknown. Say what you want about Anderson’s work since, but at least once, he did this right.
After reading all of those Resident Evil: Retribution 3D articles I have written over the last few months, you should have a good idea of my stance on the movie. I was never a big fan of the franchise, but I would watch it for the lack of a better alternative when it comes to entertainment.
Yep, that’s what I did. Initially, I was pondering about the possibility of watching the movie in 2D. I elected against that option and opted for the 3D version instead. I felt it’s only right for me to review this movie the way it was intended to be watched despite of my general disdain towards the overused gimmick. Rest assured, I did not review the movie in filtered lenses. (You can call it a pun if you’re stretching those lenses all the way to include the Real D ™ glasses.) Just because a movie is in 3D does not mean it’s poorly made. But in the end of the day, I did shell out an extra $4.50 for you gals and guys. (Yes, I did say “gal” first. I’m defying against the patriarchal system. Sue me.)
It wasn’t as long of a stretch as I thought as the glasses are sort of tinted. Call it an intended pun. It’s still a bad one but whatever.
Anyways, here’s a brief summary of Retribution. Basically, Alice (Milla Jovovich), our protagonist, is captured by Umbrella. Now, the once pharmaceutical-company-turned-evil-corporation-which-exists-solely-to-perform-eeeeviiiiilllllllllll-deeds has the technology to clone people and run simulations of the zombie virus spread in a huge ass facility. Yea, it’s revealed pretty early on in the movie so it’s not really a spoiler. In a nutshell, the movie is about Alice getting out of the facility with some help from her pals, new and returning ones alike.
Plot-wise, the movie makes sense because the series no longer makes any sense. By that, I mean if you adopt the RE movies’ insane, illogical thinking, everything makes sense. Two wrongs do make a right. That does not mean the story is by any means good though – not even in a “so bad it’s good” manner. There are major inconsistencies here and there, and some things magically happen without explanation. There is one huge plot twist early on in the movie, but it is presented in a manner that doesn’t feel like a surprise. To be honest here, I have forgotten a good chunk of the movie, partially because of the countless action sequences, and the hotness of Milla Jovovich, Bing Bing Li and Sienna Guillory. Michelle Rodriguez is not bad herself.
[Insert your own sarcastic comment here. I don’t have any.]
When it comes to the characters, they all exist to make Alice look bad ass. None of them, literally, is likable. Ever felt Alice was one-dimensional? That’s not going to change. The story writers tried introducing elements that make her seem multi-layered, but they just failed to work out. It might be Jovovich’s acting; it might be the writing. Either case, I did not walk out of the cinema liking her more. New characters were insanely overhyped. Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand) are extremely far off their game counterparts character-wise. As for Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), she is a slightly more faithful re-imagining of the femme fatale, though not by any means a good one. Neither of their origins was elaborated upon, nor was there any form of character development. They are, in short, replaceable.
Boy was he terrible. Anderson actually made Leon hateable. I know “hateable” is not a legit word. Once again, sue my broke ass. I have noting to lose.
Returning characters generally feel unnecessary. Other than Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), they all exist to make Paul W.S. Anderson’s wet dream come true. Some of these returning characters were dead, but managed to spring back to life because of Umbrella’s cloning tech. Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) showed up multiple times throughout the movie. Multiple clones of them exist and each duplicate contains a different personality. Yea, any traces of whom they were are nowhere to be found. The movie simply does not need them. Their return doesn’t add anything to the story or characters for that matter, and it doesn’t really make any statements. As for Jill Valentine, she is an antagonist in the movie, under direct control of Umbrella. I have already gone on and on about that ridiculous mind-control device strapped to her chest so I won’t talk about it again here. Anyways, she is one of the more “established” (and I’m using the word lightly) characters here, so at the very least, she adds something to the movie. She makes you sort of care. Well, not really. It was more of a “relatively speaking” statement there.
They don’t have personalities in the first place. Just replace them with generic evil soldier clones.
The visual aspect of Retribution is done well, and I am talking about both the 3D portion of the movie and the female cast. There are scenes which show off the gimmick for the sake of doing so (eg. Firing at the audience), but most of them feel right. Fight scenes are still corny, but you should have known what you’re signing up for at this point. There is a car chase, which is average. Gun fights could be better if the good guys brought the right weapons. Most importantly, as mentioned, the women in the movie are insanely hot. There is one scene which features Milla Jovovich covered by two pieces of cloth, with one on the front and another on the back, leaving the audience with quite a view. Does the costume make sense under those circumstances? No. Is more Milla Jovovich hotness awesome sauce? Yes. Am I complaining? Hell no. Bingbing Li looks good in that Chinese dress as well. Those heels are ridiculous, and I am nitpicking somewhat here, but she’s hot so whatever. (All that talk about defying against the patriarchal system? Wow, I’m a big time hypocrite. Perhaps we should start sexualizing the hell out of men as well.)
With that said, Paul W.S. Anderson has yet to answer to my biggest complaint for the franchise. The movies have always felt too serious for me to like them. This is no different. It’s trying too hard to be art. It’s trying to be Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy when the original material doesn’t have enough substance for him to pull it off. The movie ends up feeling like a giant Milla Jovovich billboard. Not that there’s anything bad about focusing entirely on one character, it’s just that the movie has too large of a cast for an intimate experience to be possible.
Better luck next time.
Bottom line: If you have watched Resident Evil: Afterlife and actually liked it, Retribution is a souped up, more awesome version of that movie. If you are looking for a decent action flick which includes hot women kicking asses and requires no critical thinking whatsoever, this is also a movie for you. If you are looking for a decent story, avoid at all costs.
Requiem for a Tuesday, literally, has a better storyline than Resident Evil: Retribution. (See what I did there?)
4 of those points went to the ladies in the movie. The rest for 3D being done well enough. [Ed. Note – somehow this equals 3/5 Grizzly’s]
If anyone is still interested in the Resident Evil movie franchise, then you’ll already know that there will be a fifth installment that will release on September 14th of 2012. Now it is indeed confirmed that not only will Milla Jovovich rejoin the cast (of course), but also Ali Larter (via Ali Larter Daily) and Sienna Guillory will indeed reprise their roles as ‘Claire Redfield’ and ‘Jill Valentine’ once again. That should be pretty interesting based on how the last movie Afterlife ended.
*Technically, Larter is still rumored, but Guillory and Jovovich are confirmed.
Also returning will be Jovovich’s husband and Director/Writer for Retribution, Paul W.S. Anderson. Now a lot of people think Paul W.S. Anderson is a terrible director and/or writer [Dr. Kronner – like me, I’m one of those people] and I can’t defend him by saying he’s great. But the guy definitely has a knack for making entertaining movies though. (Some might call that being mediocre) I enjoyed Death Race, Event Horizon, and the first Mortal Kombat movie when I was 11. Hell, I’ll even give him some credit for Soldier which was one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ films. Either way he can definitely keep delivering on Resident Evil movies which I honestly think have become stale by now. I couldn’t tell the difference between Afterlife and Extinction to tell you the truth and Retribution isn’t enough to get me to the theater. I’ll check it out on DVD but that’s about it.
Also, there is no word on Wentworth Miller coming back as Chris Redfield respectively. It seems like there’s still time, but I don’t think the story will suffer much from his absence if he doesn’t return. And shut up, I know you’re laughing because I said “story” regarding a Resident Evil movie.