Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution

The story of the resistance of the only survivors of the catastrophic virus release continues. Alice fights alongside a resistance movement in the continuing battle against the Umbrella Corporation and the undead.

The fifth installment of the Resident Evil franchise is on the screens, and here is the peculiar thing: the plot outlined above could have been copy-pasted from the previous 4 parts. Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction and Resident Evil: Afterlife – just to remind you the names, because the stories were absolutely the same. Screenwriters just took the action to different places, gave Alice new weapons, introduced new super-bosses and here we go.

With the business idea like that, the rational thing to do would be to predict the soon end of the franchise. People could not watch the same staff all over and over again, one would say, there are limits to patience. But here is the second peculiar thing: despite the super-predictable movie, it is still good fun to watch.

Authors do not change anything in the old formula. They don’t try to mess with the ingredients; they don’t try to improve the recipe; Paul W.S. Anderson, permanent name in all 5 films, does exactly the same this time as he did in 2002 when the original title was released – zombies, zombies, mega zombies, girls in latex costumes, carefully crafted cold weapons, a lot of slo-mo, stunning camera work and zero brain power. The feeling that you are watching the first part is staying throughout the movie. Even the characters are all the same, dying and resurrecting at the director’s will so that we won’t miss them.

Although I have to give it to authors: technically, the execution is very good. Not perfect, of course, but the final fight is entertaining, special effects are in place, slo-mo is working. Opening sequence is actually so good you start to wonder whether it is Resident Evil you are watching – stylish slo-mo rewind with the usual tune looks stunning and, most importantly, professional.

The usual shortfalls are in place too: screamer tactic of scaring people, when zombies just jump out suddenly, accompanied by loud screams and screeches; dumb looks on the faces of literally all characters throughout the movie; endless resurrections and deaths which don’t look so heroic since you know the characters will be resurrected soon; brain-damagingly stupid humor which looks misplaced. But the usual fast action with lots of fights and monsters is still in place, too, and, to be honest, we cannot expect more from this film, right?

It seems that Resident Evil has found its own very small niche in the movie market. In the fast-moving world, where yesterday awesomeness turns out to be absolute trash (be it the new season of How I Met Your Mother or mortgage-backed securities), human beings instinctively seek the island of stability – and they find it in Resident Evil. Year after year people can be sure, that if they spend 10 quid on the tickets to the new installment of Resident Evil, they will receive exactly what they expect: slightly trashy horror/action. “When you don’t know where to go to find peace and stability, go to the cinema”, - that’s the underlying message of Paul Anderson, and I can only hope that when I turn 90 I will still know what to expect to see in Resident Evil 50: Total Massacre.

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