Of all the pitfalls associated with “Resident Evil: Retribution,” there was one which stood out above all else. I’ll get to that later, though.
While the fifth film in what seems to be an increasingly unwatchable series still managed to top the weekend box office ($21.1 million), it fell short of the success of its last three predecessors, and with good reason: nobody is talking about it. Not in a good way, at least.
“Retribution” picks up where the fourth film left off, but not before a lengthy, somewhat tiresome voiceover/action sequence summarizing each of the previous installments.
Though less entertaining than informative, the synopsis serves a purpose in bringing rookie viewers up to speed, and it certainly helped me understand the fifth film (sort of), which seems far too caught up in its “clever” twist of alternate realities than it does on providing quality entertainment or substance.
Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, a former secret operative of the Umbrella Corporation. Alice, extensively trained in weaponry and combat, has long abandoned the tyrannical corporation after she discovered its corruption relating to viral testing for military purposes.
Following an outbreak of the “T-Virus,” the futuristic world collapses after being overrun by mutant militants, in turn giving supreme control to Umbrella leaders, who have also achieved mind control over the common population.
Previously captured by Umbrella agents, Alice is one of those victims stuck in an alternate reality. Think “The Matrix.” Alice’s alternate reality is one of a wife, mother, and homemaker, but when the Umbrella headquarters falls under attack by Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), Alice’s “dream-life” comes to an end, and she wakes up in a holding cell at Umbrella.
When the power unexpectedly goes out, Alice escapes from her cell, battles off a hoard of zombies, and eventually encounters Wong, who tells her she and Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), former head of Umbrella, no longer work for the corporation and are willing to help her.
She and Wong team up, crossing Umbrella’s simulated countries (yes, it’s another fake world), fighting off creatures of all shapes and sizes while awaiting a rescue team, which will return them to the real world.
The team eventually reaches Wong and Alice, and together they go to war against Umbrella agents and mutants, all controlled by the artificially intelligent computer known as “The Red Queen,” portrayed visually as a young girl with a great British accent and a really terrible attitude.
There’s more that happens, but that’s all I really got out of it.
Sure, there are some decent moments. The fight choreography is very well done, the computer-generated imagery is spectacular, and, then of course, there’s Jovovich and Sienna Guillory in spandex for the duration of the film.
So, what was the worst part about the experience?
It wasn’t the acting, which, by the way is god-awful. Johann Urb, who plays Leon, must only have gotten the part because his hair matched the character in the video game. Talk about the worst line delivery in history.
The only thing entertaining about Ada Wong’s character is the last name of the actress who plays her. Bingbing? I’d expect a less robotic performance from someone with a name like that.
Then there’s the other members of the rescue crew, whose characters may or may not have made it out alive, and which I didn’t care if they did. They really served no purpose besides pulling a trigger, anyway.
The worst part of the experience wasn’t the unnecessarily complex plot. It wasn’t the fact the script was basically a hybrid rip-off of “The Matrix” and “Dawn of the Dead.” It wasn’t the fact that the film repeatedly insults the audience’s intelligence by using flat dialogue between characters as an excuse to explain what is taking place, or will happen next, or what happened in the past. It wasn’t even the fact the ending sets viewers up for a sixth film, which I plan to avoid any way.
So what was it? What was the worst part about my experience?
It was my own mistake- misreading the theater’s time slot for the plain old digital showing, and arriving to find out the only option for the next hour and a half was the IMAX 3D version.
Due to a time crunch that day, I was forced to pay $13 instead of $6 to watch three dimensions of awfulness, and all I got out of it was a pair of plastic, ugly glasses.
But yes, I kept them. The theater at least owed me that.