Saturday, January 12, 2013

In short: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

Remember Alice (Milla Jovovich), superpowered action heroine who lost her superpowers without, you know, the film she was in actually letting her fall back under the cruel rule of gravity? The film at hand will continue to have Alice act as if she still had superpowers even though it's a plot point for the film's stupid, stupid ending that she hasn't.

Anyway, our heroine is in the hands of the evil Umbrella Corporation again and has to escape some ridiculous underground zombie outbreak simulation facility below Siberian ice. Oh, look, she's picking up a little girl, because you can't make a female-led action movie without a girl for the heroine to protect, otherwise the male audience would run away in fear, or something.

Various other favourite characters from the videogames pop up without bothering to provide any character beyond a check mark next to their names: Li Bing-bing as the only actual actress in the movie is wasted on Ada Wong, the horrible Sienna Guillory does a horrible Jill "Mind-controlled" Valentine, Leon Kennedy and Barry Burton make an appearance, and Boris Kodjoe reappears as last movie's Luther West, without any of them making any impression.

The film also finally realizes the awesome possibilities the cloning parts of its background provide and makes some of the bad guys clones of dead characters from earlier movies; which, alas, means the return of Michelle "One-note" Rodriguez, but hey, it's not as if the film then does anything of note with her or any of the other returnees. Part of the problem is that director/writer Paul W.S. Anderson really seems to think in the audience will not only remember the "mythology" of the previous films but also care about it, and so stages every stupid nothing as if it were of wide interest and deep import when all anyone will actually remember of previous movies will be zombies, explosions, shooting, slow motion, and the immortality of Wesker.

Like the last two or three Resident Evil games, Retribution has also long since given up on pretending to have anything at all to do with horror. Zombies really only make some small guest appearances, for this is not a crappy horror movie but a crappy action movie, so there are gun battles in slow motion, people walking in slow motion, slow motion monsters, slow motion explosions, and slow motion fights as if Anderson had been cursed by the ghost of the first Matrix movie. I haven't measured it exactly - for that would have meant going through this thing a second time - but I'm quite sure there are more slow motion scenes than scenes filmed at normal speed; if he could, Anderson would film the dialogue in slow motion too. I know it's not the done thing to criticize people's fetishes, but Anderson's slow motion fetish really goes too far. Especially since this overuse of slow-motion isn't just tacky and stupid (hey, it's a Resident Evil movie, so that's to be expected) but also drains any possible excitement out of the action, turning every fight into a matter of endurance for the ill-fated viewer.

On the positive side, at least Retribution (I have, by the way, no idea why it's called that way) isn't one of the action movies where you can't see anything that's happening for all of the fast editing; it's unfortunate that what the film shows in its action scenes isn't actually worth seeing.

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