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Resident Evil: Retribution (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Review)

December 15, 2012 by  



“Resident Evil: Retribution” is an exciting popcorn action film that delivers in special effects and continuous action.  The film may not be known for a deep or involving plot and its similarities to the video games are non-existent aside from character names or titles, but this fifth film was quite fun because of its wild action and the return of many past characters from the “Resident Evil” films.  And as for the Blu-ray release, awesome picture quality, fantastic lossless audio and many special features makes this film worth owning in HD if you are fan of the film series!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Constantin Film International GmbH and Davis Films/Impact Pictures (RE5) Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Resident Evil: Retribution

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English – Audio Description Track, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Sequences of Strong Violence Throughout)

Release Date: December 21, 2012

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Written by Paul W.S. Anderson

Produced by Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody

Co-Producer: Alexander Dostal

Line Producer: Hartley Gorenstein

Executive Producer: Martin Moszkowicz

Music by tomandandy

Cinematography by Glen MacPherson

Edited by Niven Howie

Casting by Deirdre Bowen

Production Design by Kevin Phipps

Art Direction by Dennis Davenport, Dan Yarhi

Set Decoration by Steve Shewchuk

Costume Design by Wendy Partridge

Starring:

Milla Jovovich as Alice

Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine

Michelle Rodriguez as Rain

Aryana Engineer as Becky

Bingbing Li as Ada Wong

Boris Kodjoe as Luther West

Johann Urb as Leon S. Kennedy

Robin Kasyanov as Sergei

Kevin Durand as Barry Burton

Ofilio Portillo as Tony

Oded Fehr as Todd/Carlos

Colin Salmon as James “One” Shade

Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker

Mika Nakashima as J-Pop Girl

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus is spreading across the globe, transforming ordinary people into legions of undead. Headed for extinction, the human race has just one hope: Alice (Milla Jovovich). She’s on a mission, fighting her way through cities and across continents, all inside Umbrella’s prime research facility. Old friends become new enemies as she battles to escape and discovers that everything that she believes may not even be true.

More action, more visual effects and it’s humanity’s last stand in the fifth “Resident Evil” film, “Resident Evil: Retribution”.

Directed and written by Paul W.S. Anderson (“Mortal Kombat”, “Death Race”, “The Three Musketeers”, “Resident Evil”), the fifth film would take a different approach from previous films by tying loose ends with past characters but also focusing on creating a film primarily for 3D.  And like the previous “Resident Evil” films, the “Retribution” would go on to make over $221 million in the box office.

Not surprising since the “Biohazard”/”Resident Evil” video games have been quite popular since 1996 and there seems to be no stopping this juggernaut franchise to end anytime soon.  That goes the same with its live action film series which is loosely-based on the video games.

And no matter how film critics respond, the audience still turn out for the films and with “Resident Evil: Retribution” which was shown in theaters in 3D, once again the film continues to show that fans and audiences still love the action-driven series.   And to make sure there is a connection between the films, producer/writer Paul W.S. Anderson (“Death Race” films, AVP: Alien vs. Predator”) returns as director.  Glen MacPherson (“Rambo”, The Final Destination”, “Romeo Must Die”) is director of photography and music is by tomandandy (“Natural Born Killers”, “The Mothman Prophecies”, “The Rules of Attraction”).

To sum up the story of the live action films, the first “Resident Evil” film revolved around an Umbrella Corporation security officer named Alice (played by Mila Jovovich).  The corporation which operates deep beneath the town of Raccoon City had an accident when a thief drops a blue vial in the lab and immediately, the facility’s AI known as “The Red Queen” detects a possible infection and seals the facility and attempts to kill everyone inside.  In the first film we learn that anyone who comes in contact with the “T-Virus” begins to mutate into a zombie and if they bite into anyone, that person will be infected.

In the first film, Alice and other security officers try to survive the facility while finding out who stole the vials of the T-Virus and hoping to find an antidote.    By the end of the film, Alice wakes up in a medical room obviously been operated or experimented on and when she comes out of the facility, she sees Raccoon City literally in disarray and sees a newspaper article that the virus has made it to the public.

In the second film titled “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”, the film continues with Alice leaving the facility and seeing Raccoon City in bad shape.  She has learned that she has been infected with the T-Virus but unlike those who mutate to zombies, she has apparently been given special abilities that enhancer her fighting and intuition as well as healing.

Many people are trying to escape the city but when the T-Virus starts to rapidly infect more and more people, the Umbrella Corporation seals entry out of the city and plans to kill everyone (no matter if they are not infected) in order to prevent the T-Virus from getting out of the city.

Alice joins Jill Valentine, Carlos Olivera and L.J. are trying to find their way out of Raccoon City which has been locked down and is planning to be nuked in order to kill those who have been turned into zombies by the T-virus.  By the end of the film, Alice and friends managed to escape but crash into the mountains.  Alice is taken and once again experimented on by Dr. Isaacs who wants to learn why Alice’s blood has bonded with the T-Virus and she has not mutated like others.  She manages to escape and Dr. Isaacs allows her to escape because they now have found a way to turn her on and off but also using computers to track her and see what she is seeing.

This leads to the third film titled “Resident Evil: Extinction”.  The virus has now rapidly taken over many parts of the world as nearly everyone has become infected.  Only a few continue to survive and Carlos and L.J. are part of a group led by Claire Redfield (played by Ali Larter) who travel with other survivors and are constantly on the move trying to find more survivors and visit areas to stock on supplies and gas.

The world has changed and everything has been barren and US cities have literally become a desert.

As for Alice, she has been traveling alone and has separated herself from Carlos and L.J. because she knows Umbrella is tracking her and doesn’t want to expose her friends.

But when Claire’s group becomes attacked by crows (who have been feeding on the flesh of infected humans and have become infected themselves), out of nowhere, Alice comes to save them and apparently has developed supernatural abilities to control fire and other elements.  Alice reunites with Carlos and L.J. and she tells them about frequencies that are telling people to go to Alaska where there the infection has not made it up there and there is plenty of food and supplies.  The group now knows they must go to Alaska but in order to do that, they need to get gas because all of their vehicles are low in gas.

But hidden right below the desert is another Umbrella Corporation headquarters where Dr. Isaacs has been experimenting on the zombies and seeing if he can make them conscious about humans and to have them follow instructions, so an unknown entity can create a massive army of those infected by the virus. We also learn that Dr. Isaacs has created many clones of Alice but each of them have not had the same special abilities as her and thus near the headquarters is a pit of dead Alice clones.

By the end of the film, with many lives lost, Alice manages to give Claire and a few others a helicopter to escape to the safe haven known as “Arcadia” in Alaska while she goes underground to kill Dr. Isaacs (who has mutated himself to become a killing machine).  And at the end, we see Alice releasing all of her clones in order to fight the Umbrella Corporation.

“Resident Evil: Afterlife”, the fourth film continues with Alice and her clones now trying to take down the Umbrella Headquarters in Japan and to kill the chairman of the Umbrella Corporation, Albert Wesker (played by Shawn Roberts).  Similar to Alice, he possesses superhuman abilities and during their fight, he injects a serum that neutralizes Alice’s T-virus and will once again make her human and eliminating her superhuman abilities.  But right before Wesker is about to kill Alice, the two get into an accident and Alice manages to escape.

Six months later, Alice has been eager to find “Arcadia” in Alaska and find Claire and other survivors to find this safe haven.  But she discovers, there is no “Arcadia”.  But she hears noise rustling in the background and she finds Claire who is no longer the same Claire that she had known.  Alice manages to beat her but also finds that there is some metallic spider-like device on her.  She removes it and Claire turns to normal but has lost her memory.

Alice and Claire then take off to Los Angeles in hopes to find other survivors but they find legions of zombies trying to get into a prison facility and they manage to spot some survivors which include Luther West (played by Boris Kodjoe), a former professional basketball player; Bennett (played by Kim Coates), a producer that everyone dislikes; Crystal (played by Kacey Barnfield), an aspiring actress; Kim Yong (played by Norman Yeung), an intern for Bennet and Angel Ortiz (played by Sergio Peris-Mencheta) as a former military operations officer and a few other survivors. The survivors are hoping that they can get to Arcadia and when Alice tells him that there is no survivors in Alaska, Luther tells her that the Arcadia they are looking for is not in Alaska, it’s a boat that is in the ocean.

Also inside the prison is a man locked up in a special holding cell named Chris Redfield (played by Wentworth Miller), no one knows if he is a safe individual but he tells Alice that he knows the way out of the prison.  Chris also happens to be the brother of Claire, but with her memory gone, she doesn’t recognize or trust him.

Meanwhile, as Alice and the others try to plan their escape, a hulking tall man with a huge axe and wearing bag over his face known as the Executioner (same character from the “Resident Evil 5″ video game) is trying to break through the gates of the prison and also, zombies have also been trying to dig underground to get inside the facility.

With thousands and thousands of zombies trying to bust into the prison facility, Alice and her new friends must find a way to escape and make it to Arcadia.

This leads us to “Resident Evil: Retribution”.  WithAlice and the group receiving an attack from a brainwashed Jill Valentine (portrayed by Sienna Guillory) and the Umbrella Corp.  She is thrown over a freighter during an explosion and is knocked towards the ocean.

We are then taken to a storyline in which Alice is married to Todd (portrayed by Oded Fehr) and is a housewife who takes care of her deaf daughter Becky (portrayed by Aryana Engineer).  But this happy homelife is disrupted when zombies start attacking their home and neighborhood.  Todd is killed and Alice escapes with her daughter.  But as Alice is able to hide Becky from harm, Alice is attacked by Todd who is now a zombie.

We then see Alice waking up at an Umbrella base and is being interrogated by Jill.  But due to a power failure, everything in Umbrella is shut off and reset and for some reason, Alice is given back her uniform and is shown an escape route.

When Alice escapes from her holding cell, she runs and finds herself in a simulation of Tokyo.  She relives a simulation when the J-Pop girl (portrayed by Mika Nakashima, “Nana” films, “Resident Evil: Afterlife”) becomes the first zombie to infect the country and all zombified individuals start chasing down Alice.  Alice manages to escape and finds a weapons depot but also in the room is Ada Wong (portrayed by Li Bingbing, “The Forbidden Kingdom”, “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame”, “The Message), a former Umbrella operative now working for Albert Wesker.

Ada explains to Alice that she and Wesker no longer work for Umbrella and that the Red Queen is in total control of the Umbrella Corporation.  Albert Wesker who has hacked the Umbrella computers then proceeds to explain to Alice that he needs her and that is why he is trying to help her escape from the underwater secret base which was used as a testing ground for experiments.  To aid her escape, he has sent Leon S. Kennedy (portrayed by Johann Urb, Barry Burton (portrayed by Kevin Durand) and her friend Luther West (portrayed by Boris Kodjoe), who she thought was dead.

So, as Alice and Ada Wong develop a temporary partnership and work together to escape the base, the two end up in the simulated Raccoon City town which was ravaged by zombies.  When she enters a home, she sees a dead version of herself which was revealed to be a clone that was created by Umbrella as a virus simulation).  But while checking out the rooms in the house, she sees Becky who thinks that the real Alice is her mother.

But as the two are about to leave the home, they are attacked by Alice’s former teammates (from the first “Resident Evil” film and also Carlos from the third film).  Ada gives Alice and Becky a chance to escape while she prepares her attack against Jill and her soldiers.  And while running away, they run into Rain Ocampo (portrayed by Michelle Rodriguez), the suburban clone version and the three try to find  a way to survive and escape the area.  Alice meets up with Leon and friends and together, they must find a way to escape from the Umbrella Corp., while Jill and the Umbrella soldiers will do anything to have them dead.

Will Alice, Becky, Leon and his partners find a way to escape the Umbrella Corp. base?

VIDEO:

“Resident Evil: Retribution” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  The film features awesome contrast, amazing detail with natural skin tones, black levels are nice and deep.  The film is vibrant and looks very impressive on Blu-ray.  From Milla Jovovich’s blue eyes to the detail of the zombies and monsters is fantastic!

By watching this fourth film, it appears that Paul W.S. Anderson may have wanted to include a lot of the video game elements, especially the horrific characters to this film.  In fact, the Umbrella Japanese soldiers looked as if they were inspired by the anime series “Jin-Roh”.  Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the overall look of the film especially how they improved the look of the horrific characters and the detail they put into those characters.  From the things coming out of the zombie’s mouth or the various zombie monsters that are featured throughout the film, everything looked great for this film, the visual effects were amazing and looked great on Blu-ray!

It’s important to note that there is a Blu-ray 3D version of “Resident Evil: Retribution” available.  If you have a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player and TV, you may want to check out the 3D Blu-ray release of “Resident Evil: Retribution”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

When it comes to the “Resident Evil” film series, I felt that “Resident Evil: Retribution” is the film that sounds the best and has a lossless soundtrack that is immersive. Presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital  and comes with an English – Audio Description Track, the lossless soundtrack for “Retribution” is fantastic!

LFE is used for explosions, surround channels are well utilized for the many action scenes in the film but how it uses ambiance and also directional sounds on the surround channels.

All I can say is that if you enjoyed the action-paced style of “”Resident Evil: Apocalypse” and “Resident Evil: Afterlife”, you’re going to enjoy “Retribution” as this film is full of action-sequences that just keeps going and going and literally, this is a lossless soundtrack that really does take advantage of all channels in your home theater.  I was impressed!

You can expect bullets whizzing, hitting and flying everywhere through your surround channels, explosions and booms, sword cutting and a nice touch of LFE and it’s continuous.  There is so much action in this film that it’s literally designed for the audiophile in mind.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Resident Evil: Retribution” comes with the following special feature:

  • Project Alice – This feature allows you to know more about the various characters featured in “Retribution” as well as the monsters and more!
  • Audio Commentary 1 – Featuring audio commentary with writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson, Milla Jovovich and Boris Kodjoe.
  • Audio Commentary 2 – Featuring audio commentary with writer/director Paul W. S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – (12:35) Featuring five extended/deleted scenes.
  • Outtakes – (4:36) Outtakes from “Resident Evil: Retribution”.
  • Resident Evil: Faces of the Fans – (3:17) A fan who won the zombie contest and got a role in “Resident Evil: Retribution” as a zombie.
  • Capcom Game Trailers – Video game trailers for “Resident Evil 6”, “Devil May Cry” and “Dragon’s Dogma”.
  • Mastermind of Evil: Directing Resident Evil: Retribution – (8:06) Director Paul W.S. Anderson and producers discuss the making of the fifth film.
  • Evolving Alice – (6:50) Milla Jovovich and crew talking about how Alice has evolved in the last decade.
  • Resident Evil: Reunion – (9:42) A featurette about the return of past characters from previous “Resident Evil” films.
  • “Design & Build – The World of Resident Evil: Retribution – (9:11)  A featurette on the visual effects and production design of the film.
  • Drop (Un) Dead: The Creatures of Retribution – (6:58) A feauturette on the visual effects and make-up effects for the film.
  • Resident Stuntment – (6:17) Nick Powell, stunt coordinator discusses how this film features different stunts because it was filmed in 3D and because its in 3D, the real actors had to do their fight scenes.
  • Code: Mika – (5:34) Japanese pop star Mika Nakashima talks about working with Milla Jovovich and filming her scene.

EXTRAS:

“Resident Evil: Retribution” comes with an UltraViolet code which allows you to download the movie to your computer and select Apple and Android devices and stream to computers, tables or smartphones.

When it comes to “Resident Evil”, I’m a hardcore fan of the video game series.  Owning nearly ever game that has been released since 1996 but when it came to the first film, I admit that at first, I wasn’t digging it at all. I disliked how much of a departure the film was to the video games.  Granted, things always have to change between video game and movie adaptations but the problem was its screenplay. It was too different from what I was accustomed to.

But then came “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” and I really enjoyed the film and how it had elements of “Resident Evil 2″ (video game) incorporated to the film.  But for some reason, “Resident Evil: Extinction” felt like it was a step back.  And with the fourth film,  “Resident Evil: Afterlife” was a mixed bag.

My main criticism was that although the visual effects were great, the action was focused on too much that the film really didn’t have much of a storyline.

Here we are now with the fifth film “Resident Evil: Retribution” and I figured that for filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson, if the films were popcorn action films, people keep coming back.  Why deviate from that?

And sure enough, this fifth film was all visual effects, showcasing fight choreography that looked amazing and action that was non-stop.  Sure, there were breaks to fit in a storyline but as the film was kicking off, for the first 20 or so minutes, I was wondering if there was going to be much dialogue.

But for what it’s worth, “Resident Evil: Retribution” delivers in surprises and twists.  Not only do the past cast members from a films return but also the introduction of “Resident Evil” favorites, Leon S. Kennedy (which Johann Urb fit the look of Leon quite well) and Chinese actress Li Bingbing as the sexy Ada Wong.

But while we saw the return of Jill Valentine (which fans have been waiting for) and even the return of Rain, Luther and Albert Wesker, the film forgot about Clair Redfield (portrayed by Ali Larter), K-Mart (portrayed by Spencer Locke) and Chris Redfield (portrayed by Wentworth Miller).  It felt weird because all four were seen on the same freighter at the end of “Resident Evil: Afterlife” and while a clip from the last film was shown, no sign of any of them in this film. So, maybe they will show up in the next “Resident Evil” film.

And while I’m not a big fan of popcorn action films that focus on too much action and not enough story, I did enjoy “Resident Evil: Retribution because of the inclusion of the new characters.  Although, I’m not sure about how I feel of this clone storyline (since it was never part of the original video games), Paul W.S. Anderson leaves viewers with an intriguing teaser at the end of the film that makes me look forward to sixth films.  To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if there is any finale to “Resident Evil”,  like its video game counterpart, as long as the series continues to make money, you can expect more RE films in the near future.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Resident Evil: Retribution” looks fantastic in HD!  The detail is amazing but there are a lot of use of green screen and visual effects in order to make this film more exciting in 3D.  The lossless audio for this film is also immersive and sounds fantastic in HD and there are plenty of special features included on the Blu-ray release as well.  I was surprised to learn how things have changed when it comes to stuntwork when it comes to filming in 3D.  Because in order to make things look realistic, actors will need to actually hit and not miss during their fighting scenes.

Actress Milla Jovovich explained how much training she had for many action films that she had starred in and how she was trained to miss during a fight scene, but this is the first time where she had to hit the people she was fighting because it had to look good in 3D and it was difficult for her.  Also, there is a scene with a car running through a truck and catching on fire.  I thought that would be done by CG but Anderson wanted to shoot an actual vehicle catching on fire during an actual jump through a truckbed.

So, director Paul W.S. Anderson and the producers really went all out in making this fifth film and its action scenes bigger and better and while the film looks a bit to CG for me, since a lot of it does take place inside an Umbrella base, there was part of me that was still longing for the good balance of storyline and action as seen in the second and third films.  But once again, as long as people are still coming out for this film, even if it’s now more for its popcorn action and 3D effects, I guess for what its all worth, if that was the goal, they succeeded.

Again, just a reminder that this film is also being released on Blu-ray 3D, so if you have the hardware to showcase 3D, definitely go for it!  Otherwise, this Blu-ray release is solid and fans of the film series who love action, zombies, monsters and the action scenes that “Resident Evil” films are known for will enjoy this film.

Overall, “Resident Evil: Retribution” is an exciting popcorn action film that delivers in special effects and continuous action.  The film may not be known for a deep or involving plot and its similarities to the video games are non-existent aside from character names or titles, but this fifth film was quite fun because of its wild action and the return of many past characters from the “Resident Evil” films.  And as for the Blu-ray release, awesome picture quality, fantastic lossless audio and many special features makes this film worth owning in HD if you are fan of the film series!

 






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