In 1997, Constantin Films acquired the rights of the Resident Evil series with the intention of producing a live action film. A couple of years later they hired George A. Romero (yes the George A. Romero) to pen a script. Anyone familiar with both Romero and the original video game would have been creaming at this news. It was too good to be true. And it was, unfortunately. Paul W.S. Anderson was also hired to write a script, with the studio favouring his offering. On paper the idea seemed like suicide however it turned out to be the most successful film series based on a video game, raking in $876 million USD with a combined budget of $284 million. So he must be doing something right as the fifth film is currently in cinemas with a sixth already in the pipeline.
The first thing fans of the video games noticed with the first film was that it was loosely based on the source material. We still have Racoon City, the STARS team and the T virus, but Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?
Played by Milla Jovovich Alice is the main protagonist of the series, an efficient killing machine who also has superpowers. An original character created for the series, Alice has become synonymous with the films. She’s also married to Anderson (just saying).
Resident Evil: Retribution 3D continues on from the end of Afterlife, as a now powerless Alice is about to encounter an Umbrella army, led by her now brainwashed friend Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory).
The plot (?) involves Alice as she attempts to escape the ridiculously massive Umbrella compound which has been built to stage apocalypse style simulations. She is aided by her old enemy Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) who has left Umbrella and is now fighting for the survival of the human race. It turns out that the Red Queen (a computer) wants to exterminate mankind for some reason and Wesker, the big evil, can’t allow that. He sends Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) to assist Alice and things really start to go down hill.
The opening credits set the scene for how bad this film will be. The opening sequence is unnecessarily shot in reverse slow motion which only highlights the horrendous special effects. The green screen is shocking and the action sequences devoid of coherence. And as it’s done in reverse we all know we’re going to see it played out normally. Which we do, and it turns out to be worse. Most of the set pieces look like The Matrix on cocaine and it’s also very dark which was also a main criticism of Anderson’s Alien Versus Predator. The 3D doesn’t help matters, once or twice I removed the glasses only to notice that I could see certain aspects clearer.
Anderson throws Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand) from the videos games into the mix. This is either to appease any fan boys baying for his blood or he couldn’t think of any new characters. I’m going for the latter as he brings back people that are dead albeit as clones. Michelle Rodriguez’s even gets a dual role which suggests he was really struggling for inspiration. He also borrows from Aliens for one particular set piece that not only makes no sense, appears to only be in the film as a homage to Aliens. Stay away from that franchise Paul, it didn’t end well last time.
Jovovich manages to hold her own, however she makes for an unconvincing action hero. This is down to Anderson though as he makes her near invincible despite already explaining she has no powers. Seriously, if it wasn’t already mentioned in the script you’d assume they just ignored the end of Afterlife.
Speaking of the others, the most notable stand outs are Urb, Bingbing and Guillory. Roberts is awful as well but he’s hardly in it. The dialogue is atrocious however it’s as if the actors don’t want to be here. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when Guillory pelvic thrusted in a stranger swaying motion as she fired her guns (I cried in the end). I’d probably be less critical if I had seen this on the Syfy channel but with a budget of $65 million I’d expect something that at least looked like it cost that much. Compare it to Looper which cost $30 million and it makes you wonder.
With a current box office of over $200 million there’s clearly an audience for the series whomever that may be. What was interesting about this film was how much it did resemble a video game this time. That wasn’t a compliment.