Marter to the Movies: Resident Evil: Retribution

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Marter to the Movies

Resident Evil: Retribution


Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth but likely not final installment in the Resident Evil movie franchise, opens up with a lot of promise. After an infuriating opening title scene -- we have to watch a whole action sequence in slow motion, backward, before seeing it again in normal speed and forward -- Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up to find herself in the suburbs. Her husband is Oded Fehr's character, Carlos Olivera, and they have a deaf daughter, Becky (Aryana Engineer, the adorable youngest child in Orphan).


Where's this going? Well, a zombie outbreak happens, Carlos dies, Alice runs into Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), and eventually blacks out, waking up in a white room with the Umbrella Corporation's symbol on the floor. Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) is running an interrogation, but soon enough, the computer system is hacked and Alice is freed. She finds out from two people -- Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) and Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) -- that she's in an Umbrella facility below the ice in Russia, and that she'll need help from both of them in order to escape.

From there, we go through one big set piece action scene to another. There are some interesting locations -- Umbrella built replicas of some famous cities, inside of this facility, in order to test their virus -- some fun moments, and a few characters that show up that I wasn't expecting. Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Luther (Boris Kodjoe) are leading a team to break out Alice and Ada, while Jill, Rain & Carlos (a different Rain and Carlos; not the ones we ran into earlier), and James Shade (Colin Salmon) lead a team of faceless soldiers to try to stop the escape.

I know you're wondering a few things at this point. (1) How are Rain, Carlos, Colin, and Wesker all still alive? (2) Why is Wesker helping Alice? (3) What's the point of involving even more characters from the Resident Evil games in the franchise? (4) What happened to Chris, Claire and K-Mart? The only simple answer can be given to the last two. "Who knows?" pretty much sums it up for both of those.


As for how these characters are all still alive, well, we get an explanation. Inside the facility, multiple clones were made of pretty much all of the primary characters in the series. They are implanted with memories and then run through viral simulations. It's cheaper than capturing a bunch of actual people, I guess. So, Rain, Carlos, Colin and so on all have evil clones that a brainwashed Jill uses as foot soldiers. How did Wesker survive? Well, he's Wesker and basically gets to do what he wants, which in this film is to aid Alice's escape.

He won't explain why, and you won't find out until the end, but he wants Alice alive. Something about human extinction or something. The Red Queen (Megan Charpentier provides the look and Ave Merson-O'Brian the voice) is behind it all, and she wants Alice either captured or dead. Jill is tasked with that. It's all an excuse to go through various slow motion action sequences anyway, but at least you get to know the reason behind it all.

Is that story convoluted enough? I think it is, and yet, it's all oddly simple. Alice is in a containment facility and needs all the help she can get to break out. That's it. But there is so many reasons for everything to happen, reasons that, at this point in the series, we don't really need. Does it surprise anyone that Umbrella has a lot of clones? It's a big shock to everyone here. If you've been with the franchise from the beginning, nothing in the story will give you a jolt.


I talk so much about the story, however, because there's nothing else to mention. It's a Paul W.S. Anderson movie, so you basically know what to expect. Lots of action, little character interaction, Milla Jovovich framed in the best light possible, and some pretty visuals on a relatively tight budget. You get it all here, and by now, nothing about the film should surprise. It has almost created its own formula, and it follows it to the letter. The only difference from this film and the first one is that the first one tried for a little bit of horror and had fewer large set-pieces. This one doesn't even think about being scary, instead wanting to be a relentlessly paced action movie. It succeeds.

The only character relationship that receives any development is the one between Alice and Becky. Alice more or less adopts her, even though it was really an Alice clone that was her "mother." It's much like the mother-daughter relationship in Aliens, except without any of the tenderness. At one point, Becky gets captured -- which makes no sense, by the way, as the thing that captures her killed everything else it touched -- and, of course, Alice has to go save her.

Slow motion action scenes in native 3D can look good. It's overdone here, and it makes a brief movie that's filled with less content than its running time allows for, which is unfortunate. You could have some relationships develop, and you could let these characters grow, but that can't happen because of how short the film is. (The original running time was 117 minutes, which was cut down to 97 later on, either to allow for more screenings during the day, or so that a director's cut will be produced for home video. Either way, more should have been in the final release.)

Resident Evil: Retribution is a Resident Evil movie through and through. It has a lot of action, a bunch of characters from the video games, some gorgeous visuals produced on a relatively modest budget, and absolutely no depth to anything other than the convolution given to its universe. If you've stuck with the series through to this point, you'll want to see this one, too. If you haven't, this isn't the film that will make you want to go back and see the others.


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Christ, the movies are starting to sound like the games. My brain hurts trying to read this review. Hey I tried but the plot is just too difficult to follow just here and I haven't seen the movie. That is not a good sign for the movie.

On another note check out the thread I made called The Coolest Thing You Have Seen An Animal Do in the off-topic forums.

Caramel Frappe:
Man, this sounds pretty disappointing. The last Resident Evil Movie was lame, but the first movie and especially the 2nd Resident Evil movie to come out were excellent.

I have to disagree.

The first film, while certainly the most like the games, had really, really poor characters, terrible special effects, and was boring.

The second film had better action, marginally better effects, and a few interesting characters, but its story was rubbish.

The third film had a better story, no issues regarding the effects, better characters, but it was all over the place and hard to follow.

The fourth film had a good enough story, a couple of character developments, the best action (prior to this one), and its pacing was tighter. It is still the best of the series, in my opinion. Why did you think it was lame?

Oh, and--

Gosh darn it's not hard to make a good movie

It's incredibly hard.

Caramel Frappe:


I can understand maybe I got carried away in saying it's not that hard making a good movie.. .but I actually think it's still not that hard. With a good budget, and experience with making the previous movies (well that depends if the director has been changed around) thus I believe it can be possible. It's 2012, and though that might be expecting to much... I feel it's easier making movies now then back in the 2000's or 1990's overall.

As for the movies... you're being a critic and looking at the concepts that make up the movie while I focus on aspects that appeal to me. Both of us aren't wrong though, we just have different tastes even though for the most part I end up agreeing with you on concepts to a movie that I tend to like as you do too.

So I apologize though for saying making movies can't be to hard... but, I think it's because of Hollywood I became pretty disappointed over the fact they make 'cash grabbing' movies instead of decent or good movies in general.

I would still like to know why you didn't like Afterlife.

Figuring out how to make a good movie can be hard.
Actually doing it really isn't.

Caramel Frappe:
Ah, good question actually.
See it's can depend on how much of a fan you are of the original RE games,
but along that it's also based on what I like in a movie or dislike.

I'll start off with the movie's plot. The world is invaded (which is weird because in the 3rd one the world was consumed into a wasteland so to show how it's changed again... that's just me nitpicking though) and the movie has one plot... the protagonist surviving without much reason to go out when she's already pretty secured.

Not really sure what you mean by the world being invaded, and it seemed the same to me as it did in Extinction. It was mentioned all throughout that most of the world had turned into the wasteland, but there were some areas up north that had not been affected. That is where all of Afterlife takes place. The cities and whatnot are destroyed, but because of the overall climate, they hadn't been turned to desert. And she wasn't secured at all. She was going from place to place looking for survivors -- and her friends -- but she was never in a secure place until reaching the prison; and that was only secure for so long.

The movie rejects realism. I don't mind if a movie goes a bit out of portion of reality because hey zombies don't exist but when the protagonist crashes her plane head on you'd think she would be highly wounded. She just walks it off, or lives without much to worry about. Not to mention how the movie uses the plot device to have clones. It's kind of over the top but you know... it's whatever the movie has to continue somehow. But what's the point of having that giant axe man in there? Lol he's from Resident Evil 5 the game and every other zombie is just normal (except for those water/ground digging zombies... which is weird because zombies aren't suppose to be that smart but again okay.)

She doesn't crash it head on. She skids on the ground for a bit but does not hit the building head on. Clones were part of the third movie, too, and were only used at the beginning of Afterlife -- after which they were removed so as to ensure that Alice couldn't be too strong. Oh, and we're not okay with clones but we are fine with zombies?

I'll give you the guy with the axe, although the series as a whole has had a lot of "boss fights." You claim Apocalypse is the best one and yet there are two/three (can't remember the exact number) lickers randomly inserted into it for little-no reason.

Wesker. That's probably my biggest issue. They made his character not only 'off' from the original in the video game but they altered him to have that uroboros mouth piece pop out of his mouth. He didn't even look much like Wesker, more like a cosplayer along the lines he died quite easily (as in the movie kills him off without realizing he's much more capable of surviving.) But when he is sure as dead, he comes back into this movie you reviewed. Why kill him off if you're going to need him again?

Don't know how different he is from the games to the movies, but that's personal preference, and liberties almost always need to be taken.

As for why you kill him off just to bring him back: They didn't know that they'd need him back, and therefore needed some sort of closure in case Afterlife ended up as the series finale. You can't use that as a criticism for Afterlife, anyway, considering you can't look at it retrospectively knowing that he'd live. You assume he's dead at the end, and after the credits roll, anything past that can't be used. (As a complaint about Retribution, however, it's totally valid.)

The cast was really weak, they didn't stand out to me as survivors or people I can relate to at all. I can appreciate a movie trying without having to bring in well known characters like Leon, Chris, ect. but they didn't have anything going for them. In fact they were mainly there to just die and that's a cliche' tactic movies do when they have a cast to die rather then having meaningful personalities and die with us feeling impacted.

Chris actually was in the movie, so I'm kinda wondering how well you remembered it. Claire was in it, too, beginning the film with amnesia and slowly regaining her memory, which helps solve the central mystery about what exactly happened after Extinction ended.

I'll give you that most of the prison survivors are bland/uninteresting, although I can at least remember them. There's the stereotypical snarky agent, the stereotypical love interest hunk, the failed actress ... that's all I remember. Better than Extinction, though, which introduced only two: Claire (which isn't really an introduction since she's in the games) and K-Mart (a pointless character).

Caramel Frappe:
But, I will make an effort to still debate with you on some aspects. The lickers are zombies who got mutated further with more T-Virus pumped into them. In the first movie this was explained and they're not to hard to kill but just an elite version of the zombie. The axe man however- that's just silly to add in. He served no purpose and I don't understand why Umbrella made him other then the movie just wanting a boss added.

Yeah, I know who the lickers are. In the first movie, they are very hard to kill, by the way. It takes the friction caused by a train to do it. Alice jammed its tongue with a metal rod, opened up the hatch, and let it burn itself to death. That's pretty hard. It's also established in the first movie that it was a failed experiment and that there shouldn't be more.

And then the second movie had 2/3 right near the beginning, except they're easily killed and got into the city ... somehow, despite the fact that there should be only one (I know more are in the games, but this is the movie's logic, not the game's.)

The axe guy could bond with the T-virus differently than most people, and that's why he gets a weapons and some sentience. After all, we've seen it affect a lot of people differently than just turning them into normal zombies.

As for the zombies, it's what the entire movie is about. Without the zombies, there isn't a resident evil. But the Resident Evil series can manage to pull off a better way of keeping characters around or saving them rather then just having 'clones' around who so happen to get all their memories stored in as well as objectives. That's why the recent movies haven't made much sense they're using clones to push the plot when it's making you question "Why have them even? They're trying to bring Umbrella down so ... what's the point?"

The clones in the movie definitely serve a purpose. In Apocalypse, it's established that Alice is the only one to bond with the T-virus on the molecular level. She doesn't mutate, but it gives her powers. Cool, right? In Extinction, Umbrella uses the clones in an attempt to figure out what it is that makes Alice special, and then harness that power. The memories imprinted into the clones are there for two reasons. (1) Misdirection for us: We initially think that a clone is Alice, and when we die, it's a clever way to shock us and establish the fact that, yes, clones exist. And (2) Umbrella wants to make them as similar to Alice as possible for the aforementioned exploration of the T-virus bonding.

So, Alice eventually finds them, tells them what their purpose is, and then uses them to help fight Umbrella ... which lasts for the first 20 minutes of Afterlife. After that, there are no more clones for the whole movie.

In this one, I can again understand why clones are used. They've already been established as a thing in this universe, meaning that they can exist and aren't breaking any prior rules. Using them instead of, say, stealing people off the streets to perform the virus simulations is easier, cheaper, and doesn't draw attention to the company (we don't know how long they've been doing this for). Plus, there aren't any humans to use; clones are quite literally the only test subjects available. So it makes sense here, too. Why the clones are people we already know might be a point for debate, although since certain characters were either Umbrella employees or captured, their DNA would be easily accessible, making them the cloning targets.

As for Wesker, he wasn't the guy from the RE I came to know but this particular topic is more of a nit pick. If you kill someone off, like blowing their head off and ensuring they can't live another day... least the next movie can explain how Wesker's back or show what happened. I don't get that aspect, let alone the actor behind Wesker just doesn't suit him voice wise or acting wise.

I suppose that's all personal opinion, but I liked Shawn Roberts' performance.

Caramel Frappe:
Hmm.. you got me thinking about the lickers now. I think that's a problem with most movies- like Alien for example. Remember how that one alien killed an entire crew but the protagonist in Aliens was able to kill the Xenomorphs easily with just a few bullets? So to a degree I can agree, but also disagree. I'm going to go with agree since you brought up the fact they did say "It was a failed experiment" which no one would try repeating that mistake. Also yeah again my nit picking isn't an issue for you can like Shawn Robert or dislike his performance because if you like RE as much as I do- he's just not suited for Wesker but that's my opinion lol.

They were unprepared and rarely got a good shot in Alien. In Aliens, Ripley and co. knew exactly what they were dealing with, had better weaponry, and so on.

The same thing, I suppose, could be said of Resident Evil. That doesn't, however, explain why the lickers were in the second film at all -- just how they were dispensed with more easily.

I think we can both agree the axe man was silly, he didn't even look like he belonged in the movie. See the axe man isn't realistic to the sense we can see past the fantasy because it's to much based on the video game and video games can get away with a lot more then movies. The RE games have animations that draw you in thinking in that world it's possible, but a movie is usually realistic so having it played out seriously, but such a 'video game boss' as the axe man come in... it breaks the immersion. So that too is debatable.

I don't know why we're assuming that video games can get away with more. Just as fantastical things can happen in films; you're just choosing to view them with too narrow a lens.

Still, for me the clones are not required. I mean yeah they do serve a purpose, I can see why Umbrella wanted them and you made a great point that it wouldn't draw attention to the company thus it's cheaper... but, clones to me are basically the 'off the wall' aspect for me. In RE, there aren't clones in any of the games. In Extinction, Wesker (or least people behind Umbrella) had each Alice clone do a simulation trying to survive each room of traps. Once they failed, they were discarded. I don't see the purpose in that. They may be trying to use them for other reasons, but the testing and results given back don't serve a purpose as far as I know. Also it seems everything Umbrella is doing like with the heart device to pump chemicals in controlling people like Jill along with other experiments- it seems like the movie is trying to hard to make them the obvious bad guys.

It's another case of you just not being able to buy in. That's fine, but in a fantasy world in which it has been established that these things can exist, there really shouldn't be a problem. I'd care if, say, it hadn't been established and then in the last film they're like "Oh, by the way, everyone's a clone." That wouldn't work, but because that element has been built in for a couple of films now, and can happen in the movie universe, it isn't a problem.

But that's all personal suspension of disbelief, and as long as I've convinced you that they serve a purpose -- whether you want to believe that they should exist or not -- I've done my job.


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