Review: 'Resident Evil: Retribution' - Paul W.S. Anderson Isn't Trying

September 14, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution

The latest in the Resident Evil franchise is Resident Evil: Retribution. You got that? Good, because it may become difficult differentiating these movies before long. Writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson isn't keen on doing much besides throwing Milla Jovovich in the middle of flames and zombies all in ultra-slow motion. That's the fall-back this fifth time out, which may have been a lot like the fourth time out. Hard to tell at this point, but somewhere along the line the Resident Evil movies got too convoluted for their own good, allowing cheap effects to fill in for anything with substance. But sadly, times haven't changed much.

This time around, Alice, obviously played again by Jovovich, is trapped in an underwater base controlled by the very ostentatious Umbrella Corporation. Actually she's being helped by people in the Umbrella Corporation to stop the Red Queen, the company's security system, from overrunning the planet with flesh-eating zombies and mutants. Some of them are zombies, others are mutants. You can tell the mutants, because they require CGI. There's more to the story with past characters showing back up like Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr, a team of mercenaries sent in to extract Alice, and indoor simulations of cities like New York City and Tokyo. Basically Anderson's way of creating all of these locations without having to explain travelling to them.

Resident Evil: Retribution - Milla Jovovich and Team

If the story seems thin, it's because it's made of rice paper. Plot direction seems to come straight out of video games, not the Resident Evil games, something with much less effort put into it. Each scene that doesn't include hails of CG bullets and giant, digital monsters serves as a video game cut scene, expelling as much information so the player can get through the next level. Item show up in places they have no place being, much like a video game. Why a set of clothes is stored in the same room where Alice is being held captive could only be found in something from Capcom. Or a movie based on something from Capcom.

There's hope for the film right at the beginning with a very cool action scene shown in reverse playing over the opening credits. It moves slowly, making you focus more on the credits and the tomandandy score, and for a fleeting moment, there's hope that Paul W.S. Anderson has learned to craft a feature film with innovation and excitement. All of that disappears as the next 10 minutes catches us up through the entire series, then plays out the exact same action scene we just saw in normal time. All of this mixed with the ample amounts of slow motion shots can only make one wonder that it was a struggle getting this thing to 90 minutes. There are only so many giant, mutated monsters that can be blown up by deus ex grenade.

Resident Evil: Retribution - Milla Jovovich and Sienna Guillory

The action might serve some level of entertainment if it was ever clear who was shooting at who. After five films of characters flipping sides, having their mind taken over, and even being cloned, it's difficult to keep it all in check. Basically the blonde girl is being told to kill Alice by that spider thing on her chest. The guy with the sunglasses used to want to kill Alice, but now he needs her, because "things are bad on the surface." That sounds like an interesting movie, what's going on on the surface, but we'll just have to wait for the next one to see how that plays out.

Resident Evil: Retribution tries nothing new with the series and even finds a way of ripping off in the most blatant of ways. Somehow the zombies have been retconned from being the slow walkers of old to the hyper-speed sprinters of more recent years. If you thought it was sad seeing Anderson take from George Romero, imagine what it's like when he rips off Zack Snyder. Other blatant nods to horror of past show up here and there, some far too obvious. The Aliens reference is cringe-inducing.

At this point it doesn't even matter where the Resident Evil franchise goes from here. They're made so quickly and so cheaply that it's no wonder at all that Anderson and crew can punch one of these out in two years and probably have a year or so to kick back and relax. The effects are the same, the stunts are the same, and the monsters all end up looking the same. Thought and effort never even become a factor because of a built-in acceptance that these movies are going to be terrible. They could at least be entertaining.

Jeremy's Rating: 3 out of 10

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  • Jericho
    agreed, i stopped thinking of them as legitimate films after the third one when they decided to rush through stories just to show off the ending.....
  • Jackie Chan's not looking too hot in the top picture
    • Mike Pasquariello
      Thought the exact same thing, haha.
      • Zombie Jackie Chan, he always bring a smile to my face :)
  • Mike Pasquariello
    "There are only so many giant, mutated monsters that can be blown up by deus ex grenade." Yes. I love you.
  • IamSlave
    Wow, I didn't even know there was a 3rd, 4th or 5th film. I stopped after the 2nd. I imagine it can't be so horrible if you take it for what it is. A zombie film. It doesn't need to be pretty. People aren't watching these films for a great story telling experience. They watch to see zombies shot in the head.
    • Jericho
      you barely get the zombies though, they aren't even a plot point but instead just there to slow the characters down long enough to glance at each other.....
    • grimjob
      Yeah, they've ceased to be zombie films, and have become more like reincarnations of Ultraviolet, with some zombies thrown in for fun. God that movie sucked.
  • ... there's a problem with entering a film with the predisposition to hate it. If you didn't liked the previous movies I doubt there will be any way this one, or any future installments will change your mind. You're not even trying to pay attention because it seems you're only looking for flaws. The 'blonde girl' you refer to is obviously Jill Valentine, a quick read through the basic info from the film might tell you that. Yeah, the plot is way too simple, sure there a problems here and there, and yes, I also thought that a specific part was a rip-off from Aliens, but in the end I think you have to judge a movie for what it is and for its ambitions. I've enjoyed all of these movies despite their flaws and thus I can't wait to see what will come next. I respect if you didn't feel the same way, and I know it's your job to see movies that perhaps you don't want to, but the way you wrote this review clearly shows that you had no interest in this movie to begin with. Peace.
    • Jericho
      'but in the end i think you have to judge a movie for what it is and its ambitions' although i usually disagree with Jeremy on his reviews they are just that, reviews. if he went at a movie based with your statement then he wouldn't be doing a review but wait until the sound off page to say whether he liked it or not. and having the predisposition to hate a film puts your expectations of it really low, which is a good thing since higher expectations mean higher chance of disappointment, what he is saying here is that Anderson couldn't even make the movie good enough to get up to Jeremy's low expectations...
    • Greg dinskisk
      I think when someone reviews a movie, that person should review it in that specific genre. This one (which is fairly obviously the ZOMBIE GENRE) is probably a 1 and 1/2 out of 4, if you're comparing it to Dawn of the Dead (4/4) or Night of the Living Dead (4/4 too), meaning a movie like Zombieland is 3 or 3.5/4, a movie like Planet Terror is 3/4. Thus, as I said above, this is a 1.5/4 movie in my mind, if I was to judge a movie for what it is.
  • Rain Spider
    You know, I had a feeling this movie was gonna totally bomb in the ratings department, and I was right. It's good to see Anderson is still using RE material as Tp to wipe his ass with.
  • I use the name Paul W.S. Anderson when I direct because I'm hoping it will mistakenly get me more work. Have you met my friends Joel and Etan Cohen?
  • Honestly cannot believe these movies have gone on this long. The first was one of the better Video game to movie adaptations. The rest, however, have been gratuitous violence with very little plot. What plot there is only loosely follows the source material.
  • grimjob
    So this movie was crap. Go figure. Stopped watching after the third one. Since I will never watch this, can someone please tell me what the Aliens ripoff is? Very curious.
  • Craig
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Send this series to the scrapheap and give us an adaptation of Resident Evil 4.
  • mooreworthy
    It wasn't that bad. Made up for the last horrible one.
  • "Thought and effort never even become a factor because of a built-in acceptance that these movies are going to be terrible." Thank you.
  • Dave
    Big budget zombie movies are too few and far between to simply dislike because they lack plot or beleivable dialogue. You have to take this series for what it is, it's not the Sundance Film Festival. And I would have thought the last 4 movies would have lowered the bar of expectation, so I'm not sure why anyone (including the reviewer) is suprised the quality of Retribution. Could it have been better? Off course! But it could have also been worse (debatable, I know). It's bad, but enjoyable!
  • Just saw it, nonstop action...pretty good but not like the game.
  • maddogg2020
    Seriously, is there anything better these days coming out? Judging by the screenshots on this site, almost every single one shows someone holding a gun. Gets tiresome after a while. bang, bang, bang, wow...
  • Dalion
    It's ridiculous, this movie. I agree the director isn't even trying! I mean did you see the introduction to Ada Wong into the story!? It totally ripped off Resident Evil 4, right down to the flip kick of the gun to the end with a knife at Ada's throat. The only difference in the scene is the settings and the character with a knife. (Wherein the former was Leon S. Kennedy.) I will NOT be fallowing this story any further, I've had it with the crap.




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