Commentary

December 7, 2012

Fly Over: ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’, ‘Rise of the Guardians’

In Video Stores:

‘Resident Evil: Retribution’

Since the series first started, I’ve had very mixed feelings toward the “Resident Evil” movies. The first one I thought was a fairly decent video game adaptation, and the sequels “Apocalypse” and “Extinction” had some redeeming qualities despite being tremendously flawed. “Resident Evil: Afterlife” I think should be chopped up, burned, chopped up again, locked into a safe, dumped into the darkest depths of the ocean and then remotely detonated with C4. So of course I wasn’t exactly looking forward to “Retribution,” but even though much of my fears became justified, I must admit it was actually pretty entertaining.
Taking place immediately after the last film, Alice (Milla Jovovitch) is captured and all of her friends are either dead or missing. She wakes up a prisoner in an Arctic research station owned by Umbrella Corporation, where the computer program called the Red Queen (Megan Charpentier and Ave Merson-O’Brian) runs live-action simulations in an attempt to learn how to contain the zombie virus. In order to escape, Alice works alongside a team sent by her old nemesis, Wesker (Shawn Roberts), while trying to evade a mind-controlled Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and the clones of her fallen allies.
Almost at the very start of the movie I started questioning the motives of the villains. Before, Wesker aimed to consume human flesh to control the virus in his body, and now he wants to save humanity. As for the Red Queen (who was killed in the first movie, I might add), instead of trying to stop the infection by killing it she creates armies of highly advanced bio-weapons to study. Also, the entire plot of the film really felt more like a first act and didn’t really add much to the story as a whole, and it in fact raised too many new questions. I will say, however, that the plot had a kind of “video game charm” to it, and it was the first film to successfully recreate a protagonist from the source material. It was Barry (Kevin Durand) of all people, but he was still handled very well.
Of note, Jovovitch, Durand, Michelle Rodriguez, and Boris Kodjoe as Rain, and Luther did a fine job with their roles. Everyone else ranged from so-so to just plain bad. Guillory overdid the villain role more so than Roberts in both “Retribution” and “Afterlife,” and Li Bingbing as Ada Wong might as well have been a robot (a very attractive robot, but I digress). Oded Fehr, Colin Salmon and Johann Urb, as Olivera, One and Leon respectively, might as well have not been in this movie at all.
As with “Afterlife,” the computer animation for Retribution is just not that good. There are a few scenes where it worked, but then there was the hologram of the Red Queen which looked so much worse than how it did in the 2002 original. At least the explosions actually looked like explosions this time. And while there is still an abusive use of slow motion, the fight choreography is actually much, much better than in any of the other films; in other words, it actually looks like they’re fighting. For the first time in any of my reviews, I must also comment on the soundtrack, which was actually very well put together.
I doubt “Resident Evil: Retribution” will do anything to lose or gain any more fans, but I have to admit it was nowhere near as painful as some of its predecessors.
Rated R for sequences of strong language

 

…..and in theaters, ‘Rise of the Guardians’

Peter Ramsey’s “Rise of the Guardians” is an entertaining spin on our lovable childhood characters. In his film, they’re not only supernatural beings who deliver presents on Christmas Day or give children a quarter for their missing teeth but are guardians of the hopes and dreams of children throughout the world. In a strangely modern but lovable twist, the children’s holiday story characters are re-imagined into super heroes in a film that’s a mix between “The Avengers” and any typical holiday movie.
But all is not right in the world when a Guardian nemesis, Pitch (Jude Law), better known to most as the Bogeyman, returns after a long hiatus having been defeated by the Guardians centuries earlier. So, North (Alec Baldwin), apparently a former Russian mobster turned Santa, sounds his rallying cry and the group forms up at his fortress at the North Pole.
Standing before a giant rotating globe that displays all the world’s children, or at least those who still believe, the Guardians seek advice from the Moon who leads the group by displaying moon-lit messages. It’s here that they’re informed of a new member to their elite and fabled club, Jack Frost (Chris Pine) – much to the dismay of Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman), an oversized, boomerang yielding Easter Bunny from the Outback.
It’s interesting that the movie’s lead character is Jack Frost because he’s the least known of the other children’s fables. A teenager resembling a modern day skater kid, Frost has spent three centuries trying to figure out the past and understand why the moon made him into an immortal. He’s an outcast, and it becomes more apparent as the obvious becomes more evident — children don’t know him. He doesn’t bring Easter eggs, presents or currency, but instead he flies around with his crooked cane and causes snowball fights and other winter mischief.
The storyline isn’t new, though heavy on our hearts as it emotionally floods our cabezas with childhood memories by portraying the magic of still believing in the impossible. For children it simply reinforces what they already believe, for now.
Pitch is scheming to turn the dreams of the world’s children into nightmares and almost succeeds by tricking the Sandman into defeat. The Sandman is a plump little fellow who is covered in gold dust and mute — dare I say rather cute. But, of course, the Guardians rally with the help of true believers and as with any PG action adventure movie eventually defeat the antagonist after a series of CGI fight scenes, which of course was all annoyingly shot in 3D. It’s nothing new.
I’ve read some reviews that went into depth about why the critic did or didn’t like the film, using verbiage as though they were debating Shakespeare or Mark Twain. But for me, I simply turned to my 4-year-old guest and took a mental snapshot of the Cheshire grin spread widely across her face. If she could endure an hour-and-a-half uncomfortably sporting a pair of over-sized 3D glasses and still beam with pure, childish joy, then I believe the film succeeded. It’s a reminder, as the film conveys, that prolonging a child’s imagination, wonder and belief is a worthy ambition.
This film is rated PG.




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