Throughout the ages, mystical creatures of yore have captured the attention of fanboys and girls alike - but zombies might take the cake for the ultimate in cult followings. From the films of George Romero to the seemingly-endless flood of 360 games, zombies are prevalent throughout mainstream media - especially in the last few years. Whether Capcom decided to release it at such a convenient time or not, those currently charged up by the gory zombies-in-space action on their console will eat up Resident Evil Degeneration with fervor.
Taking place after the events of Resident Evil 4, the world is still reeling from the catastrophic consequences of the T-Virus. Raccoon City was blown away by the government, the Umbrella Corporation's stock plummeted, and a new pharmaceutical company called WilPharma has risen from the ashes. Word of human trials for a new T-Virus vaccine has surfaced, and protestors are aplenty at WilPharma's headquarters, setting the stage for the story to come.
Claire Redfield of early Resident Evil fame has landed at an airport to meet a friend when the proverbial excrement hits the fan. A live-and-biting zombie combined with a crashed zombie-filled plane leave a few survivors stranded in the terminal, and only one man can save the day: Leon Kennedy. Alongside a Special Response Team agent named Angela they make their way into the darkness in hopes of saving Claire and the others; but what none of them realize is there's a far deeper conspiracy going on, and zombies are the least of their problems.
Resident Evil's premise is solid and engaging from start to end - save for the yawn-inducing and cheesy reuniting Claire has with her friend. There's zombies, conspiracies and plenty of themes that Resident Evil fans will be familiar with, and newbies to the franchise will appreciate.
What makes Resident Evil so captivating is not its story alone, but in the way that it's told: its cinematography is absolutely exceptional and succeeds fully in making you feel like you're a part of the action. For example, near the beginning there's a scene where you're seeing a bank of windows behind Claire in the airport, and suddenly a plane comes closer and closer to them... ultimately crashing into the airport, crushing bodies as it slides closer to the camera. These shots, while not part of the actual ‘story', contribute to it as a whole by making the action and the perils of the characters seem much more real. By supplying beautiful and carefully-constructed transitions scenes, you remain engaged and interested in seeing what's to come. Resident Evil Degeneration oozes a cinematic air, and it shows.
However, that being said, Resident Evil does also have a few shortcomings: its villains are far too textbook and uninteresting to be appealing, and its horribly-outdated CG character designs jar your attention from what's happening. Had the creators spent a bit more budget on making its humans look real, the story would have been all the more compelling.
Nevertheless, save for the visual shortcomings that overpower the story, Resident Evil's premise is a-ok in my book.
Resident Evil's otherwise stunning and realistic animation is marred by the excessively-horrible character designs. While seeming real from afar, close up they are an embarrassment. Mouths, which are meant to line up with the English script, are rarely on cue with the dialogue and don't fully articulate as needed. Given that it's 2008 and other just as popular companies like Squaresoft seem to have the budget to create better, I'm not sure if Capcom has a good excuse for this. Arm and leg movements are also poorly-animated and jerky. Furthermore, is it really necessary to make every female character - save for a few - look like Angelina Jolie clones? Seriously, it gets hard to tell people apart when that's the case.
On the other hand (and more importantly), scenery shots and non-close ups are exceptionally beautiful and lifelike; they are a vital part of the cinematography that allows the story to be so engaging and enthralling. One scene in particular involving an explosion and a fire seemed so real that I could have sworn live-action video was overlaid on top of the animation. In a sea of poorly-animated titles, Resident Evil's visuals - except for the characters - shine.
Resident Evil's audio, like its visuals, is presented in a highly appropriate way. Much attention was given to the sound design - gunshots resound perfectly and other special effects are equally as impressive. The soundtrack is - excuse the repeated word - cinematic and succeeds at pulling you into the action.
My one quip is with the voice actress of Rani, Claire's pint-sized charge, who has an outrageously-ludicrous accent and performs cheesier-than-hell dialogue. Since when does a five-year-old child yell "Aunt!" across the room instead of something more age-appropriate like ‘Auntie?" Her aside, however, the rest of the cast is pleasantly believable.
While much effort is exerted to ensure the non-franchise characters - Angela and the villain - are three-dimensional, they remain shallow and uninteresting nonetheless. Leon and Claire exist solely as fanboy elements, offering little character development. A romance subplot is introduced as well, but comes across as fake and uninspiring; it should have been left out.
Easily the most interesting character is the ultimate monster foe that makes an appearance in the latter half of the movie. Its stark and frightening appearance will grip you - except the scenes where it's badly-animated.
Zombie lovers worldwide should heed the call of Resident Evil Degeneration. It's cinematic and (mostly) beautiful to watch, and the plot's shortcomings are outshined by its merits. Only those who would be detracted from the poor character designs need not apply.
It’s been some time since Raccoon City, the origin of the T-Virus outbreak, was wiped off the map by the military. Umbrella Corporation’s stock plummeted and a new pharmaceutical company called WilPharma has risen in its place; however, unlike its predecessor, WilPharma is working on a vaccine for the illness that turns humans into bloodthirsty zombies. Claire Redfield has just landed in WilPharma’s town to visit a friend when she finds herself in the center of a zombie-filled bloodbath. Leon Kennedy and members of the Special Response Team are called in to save Claire and the other survivors from the airport, saving an important member of WilPharma in the process. What has caused this new recurrance of the T-Virus? Claire and Leon must get to the bottom of things before nefarious foes are able to carry out their plans...
My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.