Resident Evil: Retribution brings us to the fifth entry in a series that ran out of steam a long time ago. Once again, despite there being no demand for yet another sequel, we are faced with one, and as you can probably expect, it’s filled with the same problems that writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson has refused to address for the last several years now. Sometimes consistency can be a good thing, but in this case, it’s only continuing to weigh this series down.
Picking up right where Resident Evil: Afterlife left off, we find Alice (Milla Jovovich) once again captured by the evil Umbrella Corporation. With the help of Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), Alice is freed from her confinement. However, there is still the task of escaping the installation, which is actually a testing area for biological weapons, featuring multiple environments such as New York City, Moscow, and Tokyo. To make matters even worse, the installation is located under water and ice, making it accessible only via elevator.
Meanwhile, a squad, led by Leon (Johann Urb), has been dispatched to help get her out. Their mission is to rendezvous with her in one of the environments and get her to the surface. This is, of course, easier said than done as the computer controlling the instillation, The Red Queen, will do everything in her power to prevent Alice’s escape. With a time limit of only two hours to complete the mission, Alice and crew must dodge multiple obstacles that include monsters, soldiers, and even old acquaintances.
As mentioned earlier, the film suffers from the same issues that the last several entries have had. It lacks a decent story, character development, and tries to compensate for these by having non-stop action sequences that merely become monotonous after just a few minutes. It didn’t work before, and it certainly doesn’t work this time either. In fact, the best thing the film has to offer is a hardy laugh at the beginning as it tries to tell you some of the characters’ names in the opening credits. As if names are going to mean something in a film like this.
Strangely enough, where the other entries had at least tried to start a story almost right away, this one delays it by about half an hour just so we can once again see Alice blast her way through a large horde of zombies. There is also the inclusion of a cloned Alice in one of the simulations that is followed around for a while, but the only purpose that this ends up serving is to set up the pointless character of a little girl who thinks Alice is her mother.
I still hold that the original Resident Evil is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s by no means a great film, but if you’re looking for cheesy action-horror, you could do worse. This latest entry actually reminded me a bit of the original in that there’s an inexplicable time restraint set on the mission from the very start.
In the original, you may recall that, after the release of the T-Virus, The Hive had a certain amount of time before it locked down. As to why it didn’t lock down immediately after the release of the virus is perhaps its biggest plot hole. In Retribution, the squad sent to retrieve Alice randomly says that they have two hours before they can start expecting reinforcements from the Umbrella Corporation arrive.
Did they just happen to know exactly how far away these reinforcements were? Wouldn’t there be a station a lot closer to such an important facility? Wouldn’t there already be a good deal of reinforcements there, or at least on the way, given that Alice was brought there? Chances are this was just a pathetic attempt to amp up the suspense, because, if there’s no rush to get the job done, then Anderson might have had to actually take his time with the characters, something that he’s clearly been unwilling to do. With the original, if The Hive had locked down right away, there’d be no movie, so whether it made sense or not, there had to be a time limit.
All you really need to know is that this is yet another forgettable sequel in the franchise. Of course, the ending foresees a sixth film in the series, and you can bet that, despite no one asking for it, it’ll probably get made (at least based on the random appearance of the last few films). Going back to the idea of consistency, Anderson seems to have hit on something. If you fashion each entry to be completely forgettable, then audiences may very well forget just how bad they were, making them more willing to try the next in the series. Even so, you’d think people would remember after four really bad entries. However, his plan seems to be going quite well. Oh well, why don’t we just skip ahead and start forgetting about the sixth entry now?
As for the Blu-Ray itself, the 1080p, 2.40:1 transfer is one of the clearest pictures I’ve seen in a long time. Even in the darkest of scenes, the picture remains very sharp, allowing you to see all the mayhem in excellent quality. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is likewise given a great treatment that lets you hear every little sound amidst the wild action scenes.
The Blu-Ray comes with the following special features:
- Project Alice: The Interactive Database
- Commentary with Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson, Milla Jovovich and Boris Kodjoe
- Commentary with Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Evolving Alice
- Resident Evil: Reunion
- Into the Lion’s Den
- Resident Stuntman
- Outtakes (3D)
- Code: Mika
- Maestro of Evil: Directing Resident Evil: Retribution
- Featurettes Drop (Un) Dead: The Creatures of Retribution
- Resident Evil: Retribution – Face of the Fan
For the most part, the extras consist of featurettes that take you behind the scenes of certain aspects of the film. They’re decent, but I wish they had gone a little deeper into it. Most of the featurettes simply have interviews with the cast and crew telling you superficial details about the film without getting into anything technical.
You also get a pair of commentaries, one featuring Anderson, Jovovich, and producer Jeremy Bolt, and the other featuring just Anderson and Bolt. The first commentary is pretty much a waste of time thanks to Jovovich. Unfortunately she does far too much talking, which wouldn’t be so bad if she actually had something interesting to add instead of sounding like a six year old talking about the film.
The other commentary is the one that’s actually worth listening too. With Jovovich out of the way, Anderson and Bolt are freed up to talk about the technical aspects of the film, how certain scenes were shot, and why certain things were done the way they were. The only thing that would have made it more interesting would be if they had addressed the question of why they continue to waste time making these movies.
Overall, this is a pretty good release of a really bad film. If you happen to be a fan, then this is just about the best quality that you’re going to get. However, if you’re one of the millions who have seen just how awful these movies have gotten, then this entry is not likely to change your mind.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.