See It or Skip It: Resident Evil: Retribution

So at the end of the last film, Alice and company were about to be set upon by tons of Umbrella soldiers, because the ship they landed on was actually a trap and not the safe haven they were looking for.

This movie starts there, sort of, but only shows what happens to Alice and not any of the other characters we got to know in the last film. This turns out to be ok, because none of them appear in this film. They never even get mentioned by Alice at all. It’s as if they never existed. This kind of gives you an idea of how the movie’s going to go, which may result in some disappointment with the film.

While it wasn’t my favorite entry in the franchise, I tend to look at it this way: I’ve watched all the other Resident Evil films and I know I’m going to stick with the franchise until it finally ends (more on that a little later) so I might as well sit back and enjoy watching Milla Jovovich kick zombie, monster, and Umbrella thug ass for an hour and a half.

On that score, this movie delivers. Milla gets to do all sort of cool tricks and there’s even a nod to the way she meets Ada Wong in the game. But Paul W.S. Anderson seems to have forgotten that Alice’s powers are now missing with some of the awesome and artfully violent kills and moves. We get to see a few dead characters return as clones, some of whom get better screen time than the original film they appeared and then died in. Michelle Rodriguez, in particular gets a number of good scenes that show off her fighting skills, and it’s fun to see her square off against Milla instead of being her ally.

The movies opens with a quite cool backwards scene and then moves on to Alice in a suburban house with Oded Fehr as her husband and Aryana Engineer as her daughter. The idyllic family scene is of course interrupted by zombies, and you feel bad for Alice as she tries to save her daughter from the ravening monsters without any of her usual kickass behavior. This scene was more effective than almost the rest of the movie because Alice’s little family looked so happy and they’re terrified at seeing the zombies, something that doesn’t happen much in this movie, let alone the series. Usually zombies are an obstacle standing between Alice and something else. They’re only there to be destroyed.

The plot of this chapter in the Resident Evil movie franchise is pretty thin, serving only as a background to Alice and crew kicking zombie ass everywhere. And yes, I realize this is true to one extent or the other about all of them, but it really showed this time around, perhaps because they ignored the survivors from the last film in favor of introducing some of the characters from the video games. Maybe this is also because the franchise is backstory heavy and it’s not well-integrated. Better to assume that anyone watching this movie has seen at least the first one and move forward, hoping the audience will either figure it out or go and watch the other films after leaving the theater.

There’s plenty of cool fight scenes and the Special Effects are very, which is to be expected. I saw Resident Evil: Retribution in Imax 3D and wasn’t disappointed in the use of the 3D to fling objects at the audience.

I think fans and followers of the franchise will be the only ones watching it anyway, so I’m going to say See It, with the caveat that if you haven’t at least seen the first film you’re going to be totally lost.