Oddly though, as the games have seemingly gotten worse, my appreciation of the movies has increased. And it seems with Resident Evil: Retribution being the fifth in the cycle, I am not the only fan keeping the zombie series alive.
Looking back at the previous films, what initially disappointed me on my original viewing of the first movie – its emphasis on guns and gore over pure zombie horror – is in fact the main strength of the Resident Evil cycle.
Lets face it, the current outbreak of zombie movies has lead to a depressingly monotonous horde of below average horrors, filled with all the tired and overused clichés and motifs of the genre. But Resident Evil has created its own brand of brutal, gun blazing, brain exploding, slo-mo martial arts and action that is much more entertaining and exciting than most other boring undead horrors.
The second and perhaps more important element of the Resident Evil brand is the brilliant Milla Jovovich, who returns once again as Alice, the heroine of all five films.
Jovovich’s commitment to the part and dedication to the character makes the films so much more watchable, grounding them emotionally and offering the audience the constant psychological development of a character who in many other films would be as two dimensional as cardboard and just as sympathetic.
Offering up an epic, all action, opening shot backwards and following on from the climax of the fourth installment (Resident Evil: Afterlife), we see Alice fighting for her life on a freighter against an army of evil Umbrella corporation soldiers and helicopters. This results in her being shot and falling into the sea.
Cutting to a recap of all four films, we hear of Alice’s struggle, which has led her from the original movie through Apocalypse, Extinction and Afterlife to the here and now. Watching the opening scene forwards however, we cut to Alice waking up in Raccoon City in a normal house, married to a normal husband and with a normal child.
Were all the events leading up to this just a dream?
Has she time-traveled back to before the original T-virus outbreak?
Is this an alternate reality?
All these questions and many, many more are answered along with the usual giant dose of zombie killing, kung fu kicking, exploding mutant monster fighting fun that we have all come to expect from a Resident Evil movie.
Back on writing and directing duties after only penning parts 2 and 3, Paul W. S. Anderson is not the only familiar name and face, with Boris Kodjoe as Luther West returning from Afterlife along with Oded Fehr as Carlos Olivera from Apocalypse and Extinction . Most impressively of all, Colin Salmon and Michelle Rodriguez make a return, after last being seen in the original Resident Evil movie.
Added to this are a whole host of new characters direct from the game including Johann Urb as Leon S. Kennedy and the beautiful Li Bingbing as Ada Wong. It’s great to see the baddies from Afterlife who are also in the games, Albert Wesker and Jill Valentine played by Shawn Roberts and Sienna Guillory respectively.
The inspired story line which sees the insertion and reintroduction of all these classic character means that there is plenty for the fans of the films and the games to geek out at, although due to nature of the story, a novice to the Resident Evil movies would have no trouble catching up either.
Okay so the script is stupid, the plot is ridiculous, the characters are unbelievable (especially their costumes) and the action is over the top. But who cares when its this much fun from start to cliff hanger finish?
The bottom line is, if you’re looking for an intelligent horror you were stupid to pick up a Resident Evil film. That’s just not what they are about and why should they be?
Delivering exactly what the fans want and expect, Resident Evil: Retribution is the perfect sequel, giving you more of what you want while interestingly innovating the series and developing the character of Alice along the way – due to Jovovich’s sympathetic characterization and subtle skill as an actress.
Resident Evil: Retribution like all the other Resident Evil films is an action horror packed with special effects, stylized shooting and lots and lots and lots of zombie killing. For me it’s brilliant and I for one can’t wait for part six!