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Resident Evil: Retribution

Paul W.S. Anderson

Resident Evil: Retribution
5
Despite flaws Paul W.S. Anderson seems unconcerned with addressing, the Resident Evil franchise continues to function as good-natured, dumb fun. By this point, it's unlikely we'll see a chapter in the videogame-based zombie apocalypse action franchise with a full cast able to sell the camp as well as its lovely lead. At least in Retribution, we have Michelle Rodriguez and Kevin Durand on hand to add some personality to a few supporting roles, but that also means they're the only performers, aside from Milla Jovovich, as latex-clad heroine Alice, that don't give weirdly flat or stagy performances. For the most part, it's a relative non-issue, as Paul W.S. sticks to what he does best: excessively stylized action sequences. Picking up right where Afterlife left off, Retribution has plenty of opportunity for elaborate gunplay and fisticuffs. The opening scene is a battle that plays out in reverse slow motion; it's one of the most impressive scenes of Anderson's career. After a clumsy but somewhat helpful recapping of the franchise to date following the introductory fracas, we're thrust into what feels like one of those stages before the final level of a videogame. Everything feels designed like it's leading up to a forthcoming grand climax and wants to remind you of everything you've gone through to get to this point. Traps and creatures from previous instalments show up in greater number or bigger versions (the uber-lickers are pretty amazing beasts) as Alice tries once again to escape imprisonment by the sinister Umbrella Corporation, which is now under complete control of the A.I. construct known as the Red Queen and hell-bent on the extinction of the human race. Even though it's pretty much a placeholder in the greater Resident Evil story, Retribution is a lot of fun, but what's even more entertaining is listening to Jovovich, Anderson and actor/underwear model Boris Kodjoe make fun of themselves, and the film, in one of two feature commentary tracks. Between cracks about nipple greasing, the danger of a visit from the logic police ("We'd be shut down!" proclaims Anderson) and Jovovich's infectious, hyperactive, unselfconscious goofiness, this is one of the most entertaining commentaries ever recorded for an action film. There's a bit of behind-the-scenes footage (on the creature designs and the winner of a zombie extra contest) and another commentary track with Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, which Jovovich (likely rightly) jokes that nobody will watch, but the other gem in this DVD set is the outtakes reel. Slow motion realizations of blunders make for some good comedy. While RE5 looks pretty good in standard definition, it'd be worth seeking this one out in 3D if your home theatre is equipped to handle it. (Sony)
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