Thursday, January 8, 2009

Resident Evil: Degeneration

For a Resident Evil fan such as myself, the scariest thing these past few years has been knowing that the series would have to go on without creator Shinji Mikami. The first major post-Shinji project, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, was an enjoyable but unambitious product, neither reassuring nor alarming. How fares the second? All things considered, only hardcore fans would be able to really enjoy Resident Evil: Degeneration.

Taking place between Resident Evil 4 and the upcoming Resident Evil 5, the story is a sequel of sorts to Resident Evil 2, reuniting protagonists Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield to once again take on their old enemy, the T-virus. The details are stupid, but no more so than the plots found in any of the games. In fact, it possesses all the ingredients of the classic-style Resident Evil video games, minus the actual game part. But that's a pretty crucial omission, as the games specifically worked off the interactivity of the medium, devising situations that were compelling to play, rather than entertaining to watch. I'm not saying that the movie features square crank puzzles, but the first half nevertheless gets bogged down with lots of needless conspiracy chatter and inane side characters. Things do pick up considerably, however, with the third act, which is essentially just one long action sequence.

The CG is not terrible, and it looks plenty good enough when it needs to, but, in an industry where technology advances so quickly, it's nowhere near cutting-edge. Capcom was obviously working with a fraction of the budget of a Pixar film, but the characters don't look or move even as well as those in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, probably the nearest comparison. On the other hand, the environments may be nicer than Advent Children's, with the highlight being a futuristic pharmaceutical research facility that would have been a great setting for a Resident Evil video game. The character designs are probably the biggest disappointment, especially after how consistently stellar Capcom's work was during the GameCube era. Claire actually looks fine, but Leon's face is oddly jacked-up. He seems to be caught in a perpetually menacing slant-brow stare. Without the hair, he'd be close to unrecognizable. As for the new characters? Uniformly terrible.

If you're planning to watch this in order to fill in the gap between RE4 and RE5, then I'll save you the trouble and tell you that nothing happens of any consequence whatsoever. If you only got into the series with RE4, then, again, you probably need not bother with this, as it's basically just RE2 fanservice. And, even if you're an RE2 fan, I must warn you that the fanservice is mostly just characters reminding one another that, yeah, RE2 happened. Really, this movie is only for those near-unconditional fans who have played all the games and spent years obsessively trying to sort out their stories. I'll admit to classifying myself in that category, and so I managed to enjoy it on that level, but, honestly, even I had more fun with the first Milla Jovovich movie. So, yeah, it's pretty awful.


Czardoz said...

I fell asleep in the middle of the movie, and I felt like I was out for hours. But when I woke up, there was still a huge chunk of movie left. Was it really that long?

Did you have more fun with the second Milla Jovovich movie?

Henry said...

Apocalypse? I scarcely remember that atrocity.