Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (R - 95 minutes)

The first Resident Evil videogame came out from Capcom in 1996.  I remember playing it - or attempting to (it was hard) in college late at night, and promptly getting zombie nightmares.  I haven't played any of the games since! 
The rights to turn the game to a movie were bought by Constantin Film in 1997.  They actualy asked zombie legend George A. Romero to write a script for it, however, Paul W.S. Anderson wrote one that was liked better, and in 2002, Resident Evil, starring his wife-to-be Milla Jovovich was released.
The plot was simple - virus breaks out in underground lab - turns employees into zombies - the artificial intelligence that runs the lab locks it down - elite team fights to get out.  There were some more complicated pieces of who released the virus and why - but the result was a really fun zombie action movie.  Milla and Michelle Rodriguez further established themselves as legitmate action stars.  The movie was a success, and so was promptly followed by Resident Evil Apocalypse, in which the T-virus gets out of the facility and into the city above.
The last scene of the first movie is the first scene of the second movie - establishing a flow that the other movies maintain.  The second one introduces the S.T.A.R.S. elite operatives, who are a part of the games.  This movie was even faster than the first.  After all - they had a whole city to run with in this one, as opposed to just the one underground lab.  Anderson turned directing duties over to Alexander Witt, as he was busy working on AVP.  Of course, we then roll into the third movie, Resident Evil Extinction.
For the third outing, the virus has spread across the country - and things are starting to get really difficult for the living that are left.  Director Russell Mulcahy broke from the mold and shot the majority of this movie in the brightest sunlight possible, which means the zombie makeup better be good - because there are very few shadows to hide it in.  This introduced even more characters from the game and ended with Alice rescuing hordes of her clones, which rolls perfectly into Resident Evil Afterlife.
Anderson was back to direct this fourth installment, and it is the first movie to use the Avatar 3D cameras that James Cameron invented.  Incidentally, Milla accidentally shot a $100,000 cameras while filming this movie.  Alice and clones attack Umbrella's Japan base, then she goes searching for the promised "Arcadia" which is supposed to be uninfected.  This movie ends on a ship/tanker just of the coast of L.A., which is exactly where Resident Evil Retribution starts.
Paul W.S. Anderson (you have to use the W.S., because there is another Paul Thomas Anderson who is a director, he did Magnolia, and other Oscar-y, non-fun type movies) is back to direct this fifth installment, which is again in 3D and picks up right where the last one left off.  The title sequence is really nifty and is played over the battle on the tanker in reverse.  Alice once again gets captured and we see her interrogated by Jill Valentine - who is back after being last seen in the second movie.  Ada Wong breaks into the facility in which Alice is being kept, says she as Wesker (the villian from the 4th movie) are now working together against the Umbrella corporation.  Wong and Wesker explain that Alice is being held in an Umbrella testing facility that features downtowns of various major cities, and one suburban setting for them to test different bio-weapons; all kinds of bio-weapons.  The base is under the Arctic Ice, at what used to be a Russian sub manufacturing plant.  Wesker has sent in a task force of mercenaries, that features Leon S. Kennedy, Barry Burton, and Luthor West.  Leon and Barry are game characters, Luthor survived the last movie.  Alice and Ada fight through the various settings as the task force fights through the other direction.  Alice encounters more clones of the operatives from the first movie in her escape.  Eventually they make it out, leaving space for a big fight scene with Alice, Ada, Valentine, Rain (Rodriguez), Leon, and Luthor.  Survivors escape on a helicopter to Weskers new base of operations, where he recruits Alice to help him win the final fight for the survival of humanity....thus rolling into what I presume will be RE6 - probably out in two years time.
I do love these movies - they are fun and fast.  This one clocks in at just over an hour and a half, which I think is the perfect length for a movie like this.  You really don't need to know much about it, Alice kicks zombie ass.  Anderson again uses the fancy 3D, which makes for some very cool sequences, nothing quite as cool as the quarter-gun in the last movie, though.  There is one opening suburban sequences that made me jump twice as zombies popped out when I wasn't expecting them.  Or, I was expecting it - but they still made me jump!  The cast is fun because many of the people who had been killed off previously are back, now that Umbrella has taking to cloning actors from previous movies:
  • Milla Jovovich as Alice - what can you say?  Since the Fifth Element, she's been fun, watchable, and legitimately action oriented.  If you haven't seen Fifth Element in a while, rent that now.  Of course, the first thing I remember her from is Kuffs.  If you haven't seen that - rent it now.  She's still badass in this one, despite she and Anderson having had a baby recently.
  • Sienna Guillroy is back as Jill Valentine.  Valentine showed up in RE2, and popped in as a teaser at the end of RE4 - her hair is long and blond now, which did confuse me a little, as she was very short and dark at the end of RE2.  She has a great fight sequence with Milla near the end of the movie, and spends the rest of it bossing clone operatives around.  She has also been in Eragon, which I saw, and InkHeart, which I also saw, both of them were just okay.
  • Michelle Rodriguez plays two different versions of Rain in this picture - remember, Umbrella is cloning people all over the place.  Random trivia - Michelle was such a fan of the video game when it first came out that she told her agent if it ever got made into a movie, she wanted in.  Thus the reason she was in the first one, and got upset when she got killed at the end of it! It's very fun to see her play the laid back hippie version of herself (incidentally hippie Michelle Rodriguez is still pretty much a badass), then the full out combat version of herself from the first movie, and then the amped up on T-Virus Las Plagas Parasite super version of herself.  She's crazy good for this type of flick.
  • Li BingBing or BingBing Li plays Ada Wong.  It seemed to me like all of her lines were looped in later, it was a little distracting, but may only be my issue!  She was fine, I'm not familiar with the character from the game, so who knows how accurate she was.  I do find it interesting anytime someone breaks into a high security holding facility in an evening gown.
  • Boris Kodjoe is back as Luthor West, he doesn't have a ton to do - but really, it is not needed in this.  Here's a big gun, point it at the zombies. 
  • Johann Urb, formerly of the CW's The Mountain, plays Leon S. Kennedy - a character that they have attempted to work into several of the previous movies but finally gets some screen time in this one. 
  • Shawn Roberts is back as Wesker, who was portrayed by everyone's favorite time traveling cop, Jason O'Mara in the tiny bit the character had in RE3 (O'Mara time traveled as a cop in Life on Mars and again in Terra Nova...apparently any TV show that has time traveling cops is Jason O'Mara territory.)  Roberts picked up the character in RE4, and again here, plays him as cucumber cool behind his creepy sunglasses.  He took away Alice's powers at the beginning of 4, and gives them back at the end of 5.  Presumably she will need them in 6.  He's not in this one very much, and spends the time he has working hard to fill out an under-armor style shirt, and yes, recruit help for the final battle to save humanity.
  • Kevin Durand (Legion, Real Steel, Wolverine, Smokin' Aces...I love him) joins the band of mercenaries as Barry Burton - again, not a ton to do - big gun, kill zombies.  Some random trivia for you, he's real life BFFs with Russell Crowe, which is why he always shows up in Russell Crowe movies (3:10 to Yuma, Robin Hood, Mystery Alaska).
  • Oded Fehr is back as Carlos Olivera and a couple of cloned Carloses and gets to play with Jovovich in the suburban hallucination sequence.  Incidentally, has no issue making gunplay look natural as was trained in the Israeli army - again, that should win you a trivia contest someday.
  • The exquisitely elegant Colin Salmon plays 'One' again - but you know, another clone as he was chopped into tiny pieces by a laser grid in the first movie.  We'll have to see if he reprises his role as M's sidekick in the new Bond, which he had for all the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies.
If you're not expecting anything more than zombie fighting in 3D - you'll love this.  If you're expecting anymore than that...you will probably be disappointed.  As with all the previous films, it ends by rolling smoothly into the next one, and made me excited to see what they will do there!  Short, fun, and popcorn-y.
8 out of 10 - gained points for the suburban sequence, creepy and fun.  Lost points for being the first RE movie without zombie dogs, who knew I would miss them?  Gained points for the giant Licker, those things are ridiculous and just keep getting bigger.  Lost points for the survivors of the last movie really only showing up in the first five minutes of this one.  Lame - exactly what are the Redfields doing at this point?
Bonus Video 1 - the teaser trailers for 2 and 3, this series had some of the very best teaser trailers.  In the one for 2 - check the doberman, before it goes zombie...and in 3, just the best way to use Vegas!
Bonus Video 2:  I love most of Anderson's movies...especially AVP - but here's the first reason he will always be one of my favorite directors:
Bonus Video 3:  Cast Interviews!

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