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Resident Evil: Retribution


‘Evil’ dead.

Rod Lott December 21st, 2012

Fifth in the increasingly slick but decreasingly lucid franchise, Resident Evil: Retribution had potential to be the best entry since the 2002 original. After all, returning director Paul W.S. Anderson (The Three Musketeers) has positioned so many elements from the previous films that it seemed set up to play like a greatest-hits package. Instead, the result is baffling.

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After an exposition-filled prologue in which our heroine, Alice (Milla Jovovich, Dirty Girl), faces the audience to relay the events of the first four flicks, Retribution goes straight into a shameless rip-off of the much-lauded beginning of 2004's Dawn of the Dead. This is far from the film's only act of cribbing; look for direct scene swipes from everything from 1974's The Street Fighter to 1979's Zombie.

Ultimately, the movie Retribution robs from most is itself, by playing variations of the same scene over and over, taking place in computer-controlled simulations of New York City, Moscow and "Surburbia." Only the creatures change in each as Alice and friends shoot guns in slow motion and flip like Olympic gymnasts.

The movie assumes viewers know too much — as in everything — about the Resident Evil world. I've seen each movie and am at a loss to explain who everyone is, what the stakes are, how much of the danger they face is real or perceived, why characters are allies one scene and enemies the next, vice versa, and basically just what the hell is going on. I'm not certain there is even is a story, because no genuine resolution exists; after about an hour and a half, Anderson just has his cast stop moving for a few seconds, with a clear lead-in to Resident Evil: Confusion — or whatever he chooses to title the sure-to-follow sixth one.

At least it looks great, and not all due to the return of Sienna Guillory's pushed-up cleavage. Nearly every frame as been art-directed to the hilt in order to exploit the 3-D technology. On the other hand, watching it flat at home, its phoniness is wildly apparent, as if characters had been X-Acto knived out of one environment and rubber-cemented onto another, yet the edges curl slightly.

All in all, I felt like I was watching its game vs. its adaptation, except games don't sport now-uncomfortable jokes about the NRA and gun control. Product placement abounds, brought to you by Game Stop and Rockstar Energy Drink. The Blu-ray includes commercials for said games, plus two commentaries, countless featurettes and a spirited gag reel. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Dirty Girl DVD review     
The Three Musketeers Blu-ray review   
Zombie Blu-ray review  


 
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