Film Review: Resident Evil - Degeneration (2008)

Directed by Makoto Kamiya, written by Shotaro Suga, and starring Alyson Court, Paul Mercier, Laura Bailey, Roger Craig Smith, Crispin Freeman, Michelle Ruff, and Michael Sorich.

"A zombie attack brings chaos to Harvardville Airport. Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield who fought the sinister Umbrella Corporation during the Raccoon City tragedy 7 years ago, are back. In high-octane Resident Evil style, they're ready to battle a rogue warrior who is seeking revenge after his family was killed in Raccoon City. The deadly G-Virus is unleashed and a new mutated monster goes on the rampage. Will Claire and Leon be able to terminate the virus before history repeats itself?"

Let me start off by saying that, though I'm a fan of computer-generated movies and all of the work that goes into them, I find it hard to connect to the main characters because of it. I tend to watch each one with a certain level of detachment. Now that that's off my chest, I've been a fan of the Capcom-created Resident Evil video games since the beginning. I still remember playing the first one over and over, and the first time I jumped out of my seat from the Doberman scene in the hallway. Then the second and third games came out, and I played them to death, too. After that, I never really played any of the others much, but I still respect the series considering there weren't too many great horror games at the time. Then Hollywood grabbed the rights, of course, and began making films based on the popular series (which I previously reviewed this week), and though they were decent movies in their own right, they left fans of the games wanting something a little more faithful to the source material. "This is the only Resident Evil movie created by its video game creator, Capcom. The live-action movies were created by Screen Gems and Sony Pictures."
Resident Evil: Degeneration picks up where Resident Evil 4 left off, and serves as a prelude to Resident Evil 5. As far as the visuals go, Capcom is back in full force, and I have to say, Degeneration is massive eye candy. In my mind, the only rivals here are Square-Enix and Blizzard Entertainment, which I still can't believe the latter has never made a full length movie as of yet. Another nice touch is the voice-acting. In fact, fans of the game series may even recognize a few voices in the film. "Claire Redfield, Leon Kennedy, and Ingrid Hunnigan are the only characters that come from the video game series, and voiced by the same actors." In fact, the most acute fans may recognize even more in the movie, such as symbols, images, and sound effects. For instance: "In the scene where Fredric Downing left his office with Claire inside, the sound effect of the door closing is exact same one used for doors closing in the earliest RE games." These are all welcome additions to the movie when considering the lack of resemblances to the game in the live-action movie trilogy. The action is well done, too, and it truly feels like a Capcom-created project in an almost classic Resident Evil glory.
Yet, despite these spectacular features, Degeneration is far from perfect. The film is plagued by mundane and inane dialog, and to be honest, the plot is pretty stale as well. Though, all things considered, the games were never groundbreaking in those departments anyway. So, it's not entirely fair to hold that much against the movie. But it does begin to wear on you roughly halfway in, and I found myself wanting to cringe at times. Still, you also have to consider the fact that the live-action movies weren't really any better either. Another downside to the whole affair is that, while it definitely fits in with the game series, it simply feels like an extended CGI-cutscene in one of its own games. It never really comes off as its own, stand alone entry into the series. It's been described as 'Resident Evil 4.5', and that's not far from the truth. After such a long wait, and sitting through three par movies more 'inspired' than 'based on', fans were somewhat disappointed with finally getting their wish granted in a likewise par, albeit more faithful, adaptation to an otherwise amazing series.

Overall, I'd recommend the flick to fans of the Resident Evil games and those who want a different, more faithful attempt at the story. As a horror/action film, it works. It's fast-paced, somewhat creepy, and absolutely gorgeous to look at. But is it what all of the fans have been waiting for? Not really. If the game series continues and keeps building strength, then we'll probably see another full length movie. Even if it turns out in much the same manner as Degeneration, I'll still check it out. But one can only hope for more in the end. The movie, for me, never achieved all of the glory of the core games, but it never once hindered my view of those games either.

Best quote: "I can't stand kids! They're a real pain in the ass!"


The Man-Cave said...

Ryan - I think you summed this up perfectly. This stays close to source material and the visuals are fantastic...that's the good. Unfortunately, I am glad I am not alone when it comes to dialogue. For a movie based on Resident Evil (especially my favorite #4 and Leon Kennedy), this just felt like it dragged on. Not worth re-watching by any means.

Better off skipping this after playing 4 and going on to 5.

ZedWord said...

I was quite unimpressed with this movie. I was going to review it a few months back, but I honestly could not think of anything to say about it. I found it that mediocre.

I don't think the CGI was particularly well done. Capcom's CGI people always creep me out. They seem to get more realistic hair and skin textures, but they still look like creepy dolls. They look more zombie-like than the zombies

Ryan Coddington said...

Geof: Agreed. I felt the same way about Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. The action and visuals were amazing, but the dialog was terrible. And in the end, despite how much fans ask for them, movie sequels to video games are never as enticing as they sound. They just don't work. Actually, now that I think about it, it would have worked much better as a little half hour TV series instead.

Aaron: The textures never really bothered me much, but I do think that the fluidity of their actions comes off a bit too 'stick-figure' at times. I think, considering there's not a major demand for CGI-zombie movies, Capcom did the best they could with their resources ($75 mil) when compared to other recent CGI movies like Up ($175 mil) and Monsters vs. Aliens ($175 mil), or the upcoming Avatar ($300 mil). Other than that issue though, we're in complete agreement. I wouldn't have even been as kind in reviewing it if it wasn't connected to a game series that was a major part of my childhood.

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the first time that I saw this movie almost piss my pants, just look it the graphics is almost real, the zombies scare you, and the men who denied that Claire don't look more beautiful than ever will eaten by Hunters.

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Pretty cool screenshots!