Writer: Elaine Ewe
Overall: 2.5 Out of 5
Cast: 2.0 Out of 5
Plot: 1.0 Out of 5
Effects: 3.0 Out of 5
Cinematography: 3.0 Out of 5
Watch this if you liked: "Resident Evil" films
"Resident Evil: Retribution" picks up from where "Resident Evil: Afterlife" left off. It starts off on a promising note, with Alice falling into the sea in slow-motion before rewinding, still in slow-motion, to about ten minutes before, where the four previous "Resident Evil" instalments are recapped, then resuming play at its normal speed. This is the highlight of the film, complete with impressive visuals and 3D effects, before the rest of the film entangles itself into an abysmal ball of yarn.
Fans and moviegoers familiar to the "Resident Evil" film franchise will know not to expect much from the film after four instalments, but like Alice, "Resident Evil: Retribution" manages to achieve the impossible by dampening our expectations further. The story itself is a rehash of the same cliched premise about Alice, but in a bizarre twist of events that only Paul W. S. Anderson can explain, the man himself has decided to take it upon himself to make the fifth instalment feel fresh by rebooting (yes, you heard it right) the whole film franchise. Alice is once again the semi-powerless woman who wakes up trapped in the heart of Umbrella Corporation's most secret operations facility as a result of capture by Jill Valentine, who is now under the control of the Red Queen, the psychotic artificial intelligence from the original. Alice soon meets Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), a femme fatale working for Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and together, the two must fight to survive long enough to rendezvous with an extraction team led by Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) in order to return to the surface.
While Paul W. S. Anderson may have felt that he needed to reboot the film franchise, he does absolutely nothing to capitalize on it, other than throwing in a whole lot of fan favourites like Leon S. Kennedy, Ada Wong, Barry Burton and monsters such as the Exposed Plagas and Executioner Majini. Instead, the film follows a predictable, but tiresome path that only serves to confuse audiences about the film's direction. Face it, loyal fans and followers of the "Resident Evil" film franchise had never cared about Alice beyond her ability to kick butt and look hot while doing it, which is why it is jarring when "Resident Evil: Retribution" attempts to force us to wonder about her life before being cloned by giving her a backstory which may or may not turn out to be true. Milla Jovovich seems lost in her role as Alice this time, widening her eyes every time her fake daughter Becky calls her mother or at every other 'plot development'.
The rest of cast are dealt even worse fates. Not only do they have to don fake wigs and heavy makeup in order to uncannily resemble their video game counterparts, they do absolutely nothing to add some punch to the bland story. Asian star Li Bingbing is given top billing as the other female lead, but her role only consists of wearing a high-slit gown during her 30-minute screen time. Sienna Guillory is back as Jill Valentine while Michelle Rodriguez is back as Rain Ocampo, but here they are also lesser versions of their original like Alice, merely fulfilling their roles as stereotypical henchmen and snarls threats every minute they are onscreen.
What the story may lack in muscle, it also lacks in the 3D visuals and effects, apart from the opening scene. Its predecessor, "Resident Evil: Afterlife", has already showcased all that can be done with the film franchise, as there are only so many ways you can hack up a zombie or the mutated zombie, which is why "Retribution" lacks even a climatic showdown with zombie on steroids. The settings of Tokyo and Moscow do nothing to provide atmosphere or tension to the film, if anything; it cheapens the film even more because of how they are used.
"Resident Evil: Retribution" is easily the weakest link of the film franchise. It does nothing to build up the anticipation for the finale, even though Paul W. S. Anderson has said that he would only film it based on the success of "Retribution". It is safe where it should be dangerous. It is derivative when it should be daring. Despite glimmers of an action-packed story, "Resident Evil: Retribution" rarely has the energy to get up and bravely venture forth beyond rinsing and repeating the previous instalments.
The film is also available in 2D and IMAX 3D. The latter is great if you want to maximise your viewing of the film, if you even feel like watching it after this.
Cinema Online, 13 September 2012