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.
I am not a fan of the games but I know well of the events and the characters in the franchise. Allow me to mention how a non-fanboy felt while watching this movie.
-Being fully CGI and with a huge fame behind it, the expectations were pretty high. The movie did transmit the imagery from the games in a high degree. All the areas were reminiscent of locations and events from the games, which does make it likable to the fans.
-The quality of the polygons was very good, especially in the explosions and the machinery.
-Yet, in the area of the character figures it felt rather sloppy, as they moved in a fake matter most of the time because of the lack in proper physics. They walked like robots and interacted with other objects in a not-believable way. The best example in the field remains Advent Children, which does a far better job at feeling realistic (not just looking) despite being made several years ago.
-Other minor glitches is the censorship of blood and gore, as when someone is bitten by a zombie or a zombie’s head blows up, the camera moves away and lets it imply that it happened. That totally ruined the shocking aspect of the movie; probably done to make it accessible to a wider audience. Too bad; it ruined my fun.
-The movie did include several cinematics, widely used in zombie movies in order to invoke fear or excitement. It also had plenty of gunfights and explosions to please a typical viewer who expects a lot of brainless violence. Yet, all these felt very familiar to most Hollywood movies and personally I felt like I was watching a rerun rather a new movie. Because nothing was original in the way the plot unfolded. I have seen it a thousand times already and it ceased to be scary or exciting anymore. That essentially means that the movie used a tired formula of cinematics that no longer make an impact on you. Visually, it was great to watch but aesthetically it felt old-fashioned and predictable.
- The music themes and the special effects made me feel like I was watching a typical action film, so it didn’t took much time to forget them entirely. Voice acting was ok, although I have issues with how they talked and how fitting their lips were moving. The dialogues were dry and boring, with lip-sync being almost absent. Generally, it was an average treatment.
If I could describe the story in a flash that would be “A rehash of what we already saw in the games.” It felt like I was watching the same events happening all over again; this time in a far less important way. What I mean:
-Umbrella corp is dismantled. Oh, look, another corporation appears with the exact same goals. And when it fails, oh, look, another one pops up to take its place. You never run out of generic, evil, multi-national organizations in the world of Resident Evil.
-Zombies appear again (duh, it’s Resident Evil after all). And look, another identical Tyrant boss for our heroes to fight. Only this one has sentimental issues over a photo and doesn’t feel threatening like his predecessors.
-We get another super-secret-secure facility of virus experimentations. Which of course loses control and goes haywire in 0,2 seconds, despite its so-called perfect security.
-Wesker betrayed everyone and escaped. Oh, look, another ally-going-freelance is present. Only he is neither cool nor macho like uber-Wesker.
Did the story add anything new to the franchise? Well, it did give off the feeling that it would be far more multi-layered in the beginning, as nasty politicians and ecology fanatics appeared. Yet, it all went to waste by having the first to be just red herring and the later to be an out-of-screen and unimportant fraction. By the end of the movie, an airport and a secret facility were blown to bits and hundreds of nameless people were turned to zombies; but none of these affected the overall story, nothing new was revealed, nothing solid was resolved and the characters did not improve or mature in any way. It was by all accords, just like a filler mission with repeated footage from the games.
My God, the cast was so cheesy! Goes well with the story being Swiss cheese from all the plot holes. The most stereotypical American archetypes are present and brought a bitter taste to my mouth from the very first minute I layed my eyes on them. What I mean:
-Claire was the typical bimbo that gets chased by bad zombies while wearing tight cloths. She couldn’t even fight back until Leon gave her a gun. Duh, didn’t her experience in Racoon City made her tough? She then gets all fuzzy with a rich guy, just to be manipulated like the typical American bimbo she was based upon. Yuck!
-Leon turned Terminator and started killing dozens of zombies without even sweating. He is essentially a heavy-dude, out to beat everything in his way and save the chicks with his awesome hairdoo and tough look. Yeah, he is cool but also dry as a character. He doesn’t evolve or mature (that happened outside of the movie) so he is just a walking killing machine.
-The Hindu girl was there just as an excuse for Claire to find the courage to save innocent people. Meanwhile, dozens of people were being killed as she was going for the girl and not caring about all the rest.
-The politician was the cliché asshole. All American movies have a guy you are supposed to dislike and over here, this is the guy. How did he got elected anyway? He doesn’t even try to hide what an asshole he is.
-The rich guy was a eunich and a bad machiavelian character. He did play his cards well but in the end he was caught out of the blue and took him, like, two seconds to lose all his coolness and turn to a spineless asshole as well.
-Angela the female cop and her brother were terrible attempts at providing drama. How can anyone find it dramatic if the random cop Claire meets is conveniently the sister to a bad guy who turns Tyrant just to kill some random soldiers and goes emotionally unstable? Terrible I say.
-The zombies… were mooks. Nobody cares about them. They are not scary and they don’t even accomplish anything.
-The name alone will make it worthwhile for the fans of the games but I doubt even they will watch it more than once, as it adds nothing new as a RE movie or as a zombie movie or even as a CGI movie.
-Visually, it was ok although I have seen far better.
-The story really sucked as it was not just simple, but also full of convenient events that forced the plot to unfold in ways the heroes had no way of knowing or preventing. I mean, the bad guy was installing bombs and spreading zombie-virus in high security places all the time, full of elite soldiers and guards on the lookout. Yet, nobody seemed to be able to take notice of a known criminal walking around in top-secret places like he owned the place or discovering any of the bombs.
-Not to mention how cliché all the characters acted, from the little Hindu girl being the only one to recognize the politician to the politician being generically acting like an asshole, down to the Tyrant spotting a tiny photograph in an area full of rubble and explosions.
-As for the action part, the movie was very Hollywood like, full of pointless explosions and shootings and cheesy dialogues you can find in a run-of-the-mill American b-movie.
-As for the feeling, it was similar to Romero’s zombie movies, which to be honest is a tired formula everyone keeps copying for the last 30 years and has long ceased to be interesting or scary. The horror genre has moved to other fields, where terror lies in the unknown, and left behind the image of grotesque monsters chasing teenage bimbos.
Scary games: Silent Hill, Fatal Frame.
Scary movies: Ringu, In the Mouth of Madness, Event Horizon.
Great CGI movies: Advent Children, Appleseed.
Really neat, visuals are fantastic.Solid resident evil story, original resident evil characters, very entertaining.
Resident Evil: Degeneration caught my eye immediately because of a familiarity with the series, but until recently I didn't have the time to view it.
Though I'm not the biggest fanboy of the Resident Evil videogame series I can honestly confess that I've completed multiple play-throughs of both the fourth and fifth installments; also, I've had opportunities to catch up on the story from other games via friends, the internet, etc. With this solid RE background I came began the movie with a veritable amount of hype but sensible expections.
A lot of the hype came from the stunning visuals. At times throughout the movie the line between live action and CGI blurred because of the impressively sharpened character models, environments, and believable imitated movements. This impressive style and quality of animation felt only marred by a few statuesque character motions, and the main "G-Virus" creature that appeared out of place when compared to the rest of the CGI models--almost as though it was copy-pasted onto the screen from another film.
If you watch the English dubbed version, as I did, you'll probably recognize most of the voices from current generation videogames and anime. These voices on the most part fulfill their roles adequately, but some of the lines felt flat or uninspired--such as the prattling of the innocent-girl stand-in, or the semi-evil issues of self-concern on the part of the senator. Both of these examples, as well as others, stems from a core weakness in the series: the characters.
At times the RE games perform character development admirably. More often than not though they'll throw down a quick stereotype to fill gap in the story like the two characters mentioned above (see Sherry Birken and Spencer as two easy comparisons to the characters above). The two main additions to this particular film garnered significant developments than the gaggle of uninspired stereotypes, but didn't go as far as to break old molds of disinterest completely; a man doing anything for vengeance and a sister trying battling with herself for the power to stop him feels awfully familiar.
Leon and Claire appear for fan appeasement. Am I a fan? If you've read the review up to this point than you know the answer to that. Was I pleased? A little, yes. I liked seeing Claire and Leon together again but felt a little betrayed when the same characters that came on screen were the same ones that were left as the credits began to roll. Certain subtleties such as Claire winking at Leon as they both go to their not-really potential doom, and Leon offering Claire a ride provided instances of speculation for changes in character but ended up being little more than fan service with no follow through. The same with the potential romance between Leon and the heroine, Angelina, that also failed to follow through.
What more can I say about the story than it's RE? Well, I can say the continued struggle between the series' beloved zombie hunters and the diabolical pharmaceutical company, Umbrella, still feels fresh enough to work in yet another installment. I believe that how the movie keeps you guessing a little on who's actually "evil", and the reality of pharmaceutical company corruption in the real world are two elements that have the power to keep viewers coming back to something that is bordering realm of "too familiar" in more ways than one.
As the movie wrapped up I felt pleased overall. Though far from perfect, it provided a legitimate moment of entertainment that I think even those who aren't fans of the series might be able to appreciate.
Story: Zombies and big corperations and guns and stuff!
Animation: Very different than the normal stlye you expect from anime, It pretty much looks like one big cut scene from resident evil 5.
Sound: Sets the mood and follows it well.
Characters: Leon S Kennedy is a bad ass. Probably the only dude I can think of that can pull off that dreamy swoopy emo boy hair cut. Don't mess with him. Clare Redfield is some pretty sweet back up for him too
Overall: Very few things like this, if anything it's fun to watch because it is so different. Sweet action and animation! Worth watching! Give it a shot!