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Resident Evil: Retribution (Blu-ray / DVD)

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Resident Evil: Retribution (Blu-ray / DVD)Starring Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Bingbing Li, Boris Kodjoe, Johann Urb, Kevin Durand, Oded Fehr, Colin Salmon, Shawn Roberts

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


I’m probably going to catch all sorts of hell for this, but whatever. Ahem. Here goes.

I enjoy some of Paul W.S. Anderson’s films.

**Opens arms wide to embrace the oncoming hate. Ducks when eggs and tomatoes are thrown.**

Seriously, I don’t understand the hate that the man gets. Sure, Mortal Kombat was lame. Yes, Soldier was unbearably dull. Of course AVP was a letdown. But what about Event Horizon? Derivative, sure, but well-made and creepy as hell. Death Race? Not much like the subversive 70s film it remakes, no, but a damned fun modern day grindhouse flick all the same.

And just howzabout Resident Evil? Anderson’s first stab at adapting the beloved video game franchise resulted in a film that angered fanboy purists with its liberal take on the source material’s story, leaving us with an otherwise intense, enjoyable romp that left this horror fan grinning from ear to ear by the time the credits rolled. Anderson stuck around on the successful film’s first two sequels as a writer and producer, leaving the burgeoning franchise in the capable hands of editor Alexander Witt and Highlander helmer Russell Mulcahy as he took on other projects. Anderson returned to write and direct the fourth installment, Afterlife, which was beautifully made and super-fun (and boasted some gorgeous 3D), even though it didn’t have much in the way of…y’know, a story.

And now we have Retribution, the fifth and reportedly penultimate entry in the series, with Anderson back again as both writer and director. And while Retribution is well-made, it does little to move the series forward, instead choosing to rehash characters and setpieces from the previous films. As a result, the movie almost plays out like Resident Evil: Greatest Hits (because at this point, why not have a subtitle like that?). It’s an ultimately meaningless victory lap for a series that has yet to reach the finish line. Seriously, if you were to boil down the necessary information that this movie imparts, you are left with about five minutes of story – all lost in a sea of characters and action sequences that had more impact the first time around.

Anyway, for those who care: Retribution picks up just moments after the end of the previous film. Alice (Jovovich), our zombie-slayin’ heroine, has just freed a number of healthy human folk from the shackles of Umbrella, the evil corporation responsible for the zombie apocalypse that has all but ended the world. Not two seconds in we witness most of these survivors getting blown to bits by Umbrella troops, all led by the brainwashed Jill Valentine (Guillory), a heroine from a previous entry. Alice is captured, only to awaken inside of a massive Umbrella facility. She is soon broken out of her holding cell by Ada Wong (Li), the right-hand woman of the villainous Wesker (Roberts), who has now turned against the corporation that once employed him in the hopes of saving mankind. Together, Alice and Wong must fight their way through a number of recreated cityscapes, which acted as testing grounds for Umbrella’s biohazard program. From that point on, the movie is little more than action scene after action scene, as our heroines battle clone soldiers, zombies, tongue monsters and supersized Axe Bastards (or whatever they’re called). They must also race against a ticking clock, as a rescue team sent by Wesker attempts to retrieve Alice and Ada before the bombs they’ve set at the facility detonate, taking our heroes with it.

This movie is a mess, with but a wisp of a story floating about in an onslaught of action sequences. The thing that separates this flick from a movie like, say, Total Recall (review), is that Anderson remembers to make it all a fun mess. The movie looks beautiful, the action is mostly satisfying (even if, again, it borrows too heavily from previous entries), and even though the plot is quite thin, it left this viewer looking forward to the series finale. In addition, the acting is all quite good, with series star Jovovich putting in the usual 110%. And tomandandy’s kickass score, which is occasionally reminiscent of 80s-era John Carpenter, is one this writer will gladly own.

Katana-sharp with gorgeous colors and inky blacks, the image on Sony’s Blu-ray could be considered reference quality. It looks fantastic. Even better, dare I say it, than the film’s theatrical exhibition in 3D. The beautifully-detailed 5.1 DTS-HD audio is no slouch either, and will keep your home entertainment system hopping during the more bombastic sequences (of which there are many).

Sony has also given the film a pretty nice bonus features package, with loads of material for über-fans to sift through. First up is a set of outtakes, which are fairly amusing and certainly worth a watch. There are two commentaries (one featuring Anderson with Jovovich and Boris Kodjoe, the other with Anderson and Evil producer Jeremy Bolt), and a featurette on the film’s creatures.

Features exclusive to the Blu-ray include Project Alice, an interactive database that allows one to navigate throughout the world of the film via computer files and video clips, which feature footage from throughout the previous films. It’s an interesting feature, though it may try the patience of casual fans. In addition, there are six additional featurettes (some rather short) that cover the various aspects of the production – from Anderson’s job as helmer, to lead character Alice’s evolution over the course of the franchise, to the incredible stuntwork that goes into making a film like this. Finishing the package up are two deleted scenes and three extended sequences. Some of the excised material is interesting, but one can understand why these moments were trimmed.

Ultimately, if you despise this series or the man behind it, you already know that you’re going to be skipping this. If you’re a diehard fan, you likely already own this. But for the casual viewer out there, go ahead and give Retribution a look, so long as your expectations are duly tempered.

Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack Special Features

Disc 1:
Blu-ray 3D feature film / 2D DVD feature film

  • Deleted & Extended Scenes and Outtakes in 3D

    Disc 2:

  • Six featurettes:
    – Maestro of Evil: Directing Resident Evil: Retribution
    – Evolving Alice
    – Resident Evil: Reunion
    – Design & Build: The World of Resident Evil: Retribution
    – Resident Stuntman
    – Code: Mika

  • Project Alice: The Interactive Database
  • Director and Cast Commentary
  • Director and Producer Commentary
  • Drop (Un)Dead: The Creatures of Retribution
  • Outtakes

    Blu-ray Includes:

  • Deleted & Extended Scenes
  • Six featurettes:
    – Maestro of Evil: Directing Resident Evil: Retribution
    – Evolving Alice
    – Resident Evil: Reunion
    – Design & Build: The World of Resident Evil: Retribution
    – Resident Stuntman
    – Code: Mika

  • Project Alice: The Interactive Database
  • Director and Cast Commentary
  • Director and Producer Commentary
  • Drop (Un)Dead: The Creatures of Retribution
  • Outtakes

    DVD Includes:

    2D DVD feature film

  • Director and Cast Commentary
  • Director and Producer Commentary
  • Drop (Un)Dead: The Creatures of Retribution
  • Outtakes

    Film:

    2 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

    Discuss Resident Evil: Retribution in the comments section below!

  • Jinx

    • aliensharkboy

      Back in 2011 I posted a comment on youtube saying:
      “In the next film(Resident Evil: Retribution) I hope to see:
      Returning characters.
      Shit loads of action.
      More new mutants.
      cool effects
      Less slow motion.
      gore
      Naked Mila
      and hopefully a memorable boss battle. as long as it’s there, it’ll do just fine for me. :P”

      Paul W.S. Anderson must’ve read my comment, coz that’s exactly what I got and I love it!

      Good review Jinx! I seem to always find myself agreeing with your reviews.

      • Jinx

        Glad you liked it! Thanks for reading.

    • Terminal

      I will never understand the appeal of these movies. It’s just flashing lights and explosions for ninety minutes. What is the lure, exactly? Why not just watch a strobing light for ninety minutes and save your brain cells? What draws people to these movies again and again?

      • theGoldenSimatar

        Comfort food I guess, you know what you get when you arrive and as long as you get what you expect you leave satisfied.

        • Terminal

          Understood.

    • Screamz

      First one was really good. The second was dumb fun. The third plain blew as did the fourth. Still, I’ll check this one out. Gotta check out just about everything Resident Evil…

    • LifeMi

      This discussion on Retribution actually makes me want to see these movies for myself. I saw the second film when it came out in theaters and haven’t felt the compulsion to go back, not to mention I avoid Paul W.S. Anderson like herpes, but I might take a look at them, if only to have more reasons to hate the man.

    • theGoldenSimatar

      Gotta agree with Masked Slasher that I liked 1, 3, and 5. My issue with 2 was that it felt like it was trying to be close to the videogames…oddly it felt very ’90s. 4 had me with it for the first fifteen-twenty but then it ultimately felt too contained after the nice scope of 3.

      This one I’m a bit hit or miss on. I liked the variety of locations and the overall variety of the battle sequences; but my ultimate disappointment was that I was (probably wrongly) anticipating a global journey. Not ‘Umbrella Corp Presents: It’s A Small Undead World After All’

      Still; the action was good and the 3D was quite solid. And I love the score, the opening number and heck the opening scene were worth it alone.

      As per a franchise reboot…curious yes. But if not, I’m happy with the films.

    • Masked Slasher

      I’m with Jinx here. Although had I written this review I would’ve gone higher than 2 1/2.

      I’m no apologist to this franchise (I like 1, 3 and 5), but RETRIBUTION is a lot of fun.

      And LSD Zombie … while I normally agree with you, the last few RE games have been as ridiculous as these movies. The Wesker stuff in RE5 (the game) was as absurd and shamelessly derivative of THE MATRIX as anything Anderson has done.

      But I do agree in theory: the series should be rebooted (and likely will be) right after the next movie. And hopefully we’ll get something more akin to the first two or three games then. That’s what I want too.

      But in the meantime, I think Retribution is a perfectly enjoyable action-horror flick.

      • Uncle Creepy

        I liked 1, 3, and this one. The rest were abysmal.

      • LSD Zombie

        I think this one finally broke my threshold for re-heated kung-fu ridiculousness masquerading as horror. I could go on and on about how fucking bored I was with the whole thing. As for the last few video games, I wasn’t that bothered by RE5. RE6 on the other hand, I traded that turd in after I finished Leon’s campaign where he battles a giant fucking fly. I wash my hands of the entire franchise.

    • LSD Zombie

      I long for the day when source material that you hold dear is pissed on Jinx. I will laugh hysterically on that day! At this point, these films should just be called the Milla Kung Fu & Fashion Hour. Aside from character names, zombies, viruses, and one seriously over-used fucking creature (the Licker), these movies are a mere shadow of their video game counterparts. If I wanted to see Matrix-fu, I’d watch the fucking Matrix. I want an honest to goodness series of RE films that are actually scary and horrific, like the damn games.

      • Jinx

        Dude, you’d have had a ball back in 2006, right after I walked out of Neil LaBute’s Wicker Man remake. I still hate, hate, HATE that damn film, and how it tarnished the original film’s legacy (before the original film’s director went off and tarnished it further himself with his half-assed sequel The Wicker Tree).

        I respect that fans of the game hate the flicks for not being faithful. I get that. Having never played the games, I’m content with these flicks (dug ‘em all for various reasons).

        Mind you, I’d very likely check out and enjoy every installment of Milla Kung Fu & Fashion Hour. Because hot damn, that woman…