FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jan 8, 2009

talkin' bout mah Degeneration

Fans of the Resident Evil video games have long been clamoring for a movie to give a big "Eff you!" and a swift kick to the butt of Paul WS Anderson and his film series, which bears little resemblance to the source material. Or, at least, I have. Sure, I like the movies okay- they're nothing if not fun- but as I've stated before, I want to have Resident Evil's babies. I mean...uh...I sure do like those games! I don't, like, really want to literally have those babies for real. First of all, if they were born shaped like video games that would really hurt my no no and it would be pretty awkward at family gatherings and, like, in the grocery store and stuff. My village might even shun me! I'd have to run away from them, clutching little Rezzie and dodging the stones they throw, and find asylum somewhere in an underground network-type thing, and that sounds like a real hassle...a hassle for which I do not have the time. Also, I'm not a fan of running or having stones thrown at me.

On the other hand, children are totally the future and I sure do like those games...but enough about my personal life! This is supposed to be about Resident Evil:Degeneration, so let's get small to it.

Seven years after the government eradicated the zombie problems in Raccoon City with a nuclear boom boom, the eeeevil Umbrella Corporation has risen again. Now called WilPharma, the company has been performing tests with human subjects in India. I have a sneaking suspicion that no good will come of this, unless there's FINALLY a cure for erectile dysfunction out there (seriously, every website in the world except mine is running those fucking Vimax ads and I'm really tired of my screen being inundated with obnoxious photos of women going all bug-eyed at the notion of a boner).

Anyzombie, the action begins at Harvardville Airport where Claire Redfield, heroine of Resident Evil 2, has just landed after...doing something for...the FDA or something or other. We meet a few other characters, like the eeeevil greedy stereotype Senator Davis, who's totally in cahoots with the eeeevil pharmaceutical company. Oh, and he's a jerk.

A plane from India is headed for Harvardville and one of the passengers has a decidedly grey and gross pallor...before you can say "Does that guy have rickets or something?" the plane crashes into the airport just like in the opening moments of the comedy classic Airplane!. Before anyone can say "Holy crap, that was just like the opening moments of the comedy classic Airplane!", however, zombies start spilling out of a gash in the fuselage. It was kind of awesome, and I was kind of giddy.

In related news, I'm psyched that I FINALLY have a chance to use the word "fuselage".

As you can imagine, from there things quickly go to bitey hell. The government steps in and attempts to resolve the situation. Enter Leon Kennedy, the hero of Resident Evil 2. Yep. Claire and Leon are reunited, and all 'round the world could be heard the flutter of a million nerd hearts. Or one. Mine. Don't judge me!

Once the sitch at Harvardville Airport is under control, Claire and Leon decide to find out what the eff is going on. They team up with some rookie special forces-types and head off to this place and that, this house and that lab, encountering a few more zombies and beasties along the way. It's all, you know, like, totally action-packed and stuff.

I'm not gonna lie- I dug this movie...but then, obviously I was predisposed to. My biggest disappointment is that the moment never came where I was supposed to pick up my controller and get my Claire Redfield on- and that's exactly the reason why I'm dubious about how the general horror movie lovin' audience will feel about Resident Evil: Degeneration.

Essentially, the film is little more than the typical CGI cut scenes stitched together. The acting is fair, the character development virtually nil, the dialogue sometimes excruciatingly hokey...and it's best if I don't get much into the "developing love interest" wicked-mini-subplot. By "developing", I mean, "these two characters stare stare stare at each other and that means they're falling in love after knowing each other 15 minutes". The plot is absolutely video game worthy as our gang heads down a path that ultimately culminates in your standard boss battle.

I suspect that large chunks of that plot will be confusing and/or inaccessible to non RE-heads, as a basic knowledge of some characters, Raccoon City, and Umbrella Corporation are assumed. Terms like T-Virus and G-Virus are tossed around, and unless you're a nerd like me you probably won't know- or figure out- the difference between the two.

All of that said, this is still a fun movie. The CGI falls squarely in that weird almost real but not trying to be real so I don't know how to feel about it territory. I found most of it pretty killer, but your tolerance may vary. There's some bloodshed, and certainly plenty of action.

Is this going to appeal to the general public the way the Milla Jovovich films have? I'd have to say no. But really, who cares? It's a fun zombie flick (I've certainly seen less interesting live-action zombie flicks), and I finally got my "real" Resident Evil movie. My nerdy little heart is content.


Unknown said...

It seems to me that this isn't something that was really made for the general public. It was made more for the fans of the games. I don't think that there's anything wrong with that. Even though I haven't played all of the games, and some of the references were lost on me, I still enjoyed it. And it's nice to have something to hold us over until RE5 comes out.

Anonymous said...

You know, Stacie, we've all been wondering when you were going to settle down with a nice horror franchise and start pumping out sequels. Of course we would understand if you felt the need to have video games instead, but it would take a little adjustment on our part. I mean, we had such high hopes for you. But if you really are in love, we'll try to be happy for you.

E.K. said...

I too have been geeking out for this, although I am a fan of Milla so I cut the first film a lot of slack. My biggest problem with the films has been the lack of mystery. I loved staying up all night trying to figure out that if you push this statue over this then that will happen. Do you know what I mean? The best part (besides the zombies) about RE are the clues and secrets. Still, can't wait to see the new film.

Frank White said...

I had a little nerdgasm on the first mention of the "g-virus".

William Birkin/G-Type is definitely the series' best boss. Here's hoping for G action in RE5.

Also, when Leon and whatsherface are running from the long hair/G-Type, did anyone else think that the (CG simulated) high shutter speed and shallow depth of field made it kind of look like a high budget Quay Brothers film?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of zombies and videogames, I'd love to hear what you think about Valve's newest offering "Left 4 Dead".

Craig Blamer said...

Huh... I didn't even think of Airplane! during the opening bit... all I was doing was worrying about the ambitions of a movie that references Nightmare City.

I sorta enjoyed it (never played the games, so there's that), but it sorta bogged down towards the end, what with Claire and Leon standing around yammering and making cow eyes at each other for long stretches of time. I mean, it's animated... be animated!

And they sorta forgot about the zombies midway through. And I never could quite warm to the emo dude as action hero (I mean, during a big shoot-out, wouldn't the bangs get in the way of aiming?).

But I wasn't bored. So there's that.

Stacie Ponder said...

It's interesting to hear the opinion of someone who's not into the games.

I do wish the second half of the film lived up to the awesomeness of the first half. It sort of petered out and felt a bit padded.

Leon was so much more dull and personality-less than he is in the games- it was weird. And he was boring.

I've yet to get my dirty mitts on Left 4 Dead but I'm dying to! I'll be sure to post about it when and if I do!

Unknown said...

I've got Left 4 Dead at home. It's my intention to play it tonight and write about it next week. We'll see how that works.

kindertrauma said...

I'm playing Left 4 dead now and it's really fun and pretty damn scary but I don't think it's going to dethrone RE4 for you Stacy! There is a terrible fat zombie who keeps throwing up on (and blinding) me and he's getting annoying! Plus so far it's sadly baghead free!-UNK

spazmo said...

There could've been a smidge more gore, but I really liked it. Also, the facility (awesomely rendered) in which Claire and Leon eventually battle the boss-Titan could have had more zombies, too.

Thanks for the review, Stacie! Have you seen the full-length animated videogame teaser-movie "Dead Space" yet?

Jay Clarke said...

I enjoyed Degeneration quite a bit. It's really getting incredible the stuff they can do with CG animation these days. Looked sweet on Blu-ray. You hit the nail on the head when you said it seemed like cut scenes stitched togeter. RE:D was a nice primer for Resident Evil 5 in March. Can't wait!!!

PIPER said...

I have been wanting to watch this. I kind of liked the Resident Evil 2, but hated the third and have been looking for some vindication. I might just grab the ole controller whilst I watch and act like I'm shooting up some fool zombies. You know, for thrills.

Is this pretty graphic? I've been debating on allowing my son to watch it. He's 26. Okay, alright. He's 10.

Stacie Ponder said...

I don't recall there being much more gore than gunshots, bites, and blood- it's certainly not a Romero or Fulci zombie movie! It's probably about on par with the games, maybe a bit more graphic.

PIPER said...

Hey Tanks!

Unknown said...

"that weird almost real but not trying to be real so I don't know how to feel about it"

They call that the "uncanny valley."