Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Resident Evil: Retribution; The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo (2011); Resident Evil: Apocalypse

 Resident Evil: Retribution

Someone’s still paying to watch these films as they don’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

The fifth in the series of Paul W.S. Anderson’s video game adaptations, the films' plots have long since diverged from those of the games, with the film universe currently a world overrun by zombies infected by the Umbrella Corporation’s T Virus. In this case, the corporation is being run by the rogue AI from the first film, the Red Queen, seeking to annihilate human life using brainwashed clones as well as the monsters created by the corporation.

Our heroine Alice (Anderson’s wife Milla Jovovich) finds herself in Umbrella’s secret test centre, an old Russian submarine station deep under the icy waters of the Arctic circle. There the T virus is tested in recreated city sections, representing New York, Tokyo and Moscow, where infected clones attack the rest. These are the sets for a number of protracted action sequences as a rescue team is sent in to get Alice and double agent Ada Wong out.

Lots and lots (and lots) of CGI, mostly for crappy uses like the oversized version of the Licker monster from the games, but the opening sequence during the credits features a slow motion action sequence in reverse, showing what happened to Alice and the ship of clones from the fourth film. It’s quite an engaging opener, eventually reaching a start point where the sequence plays out in chronological order and full speed, the long sequence now over in seconds.

Really though, Resident Evil 5 is just trash, so-so fan pleasing stuff with zombie soldiers, lots of guns and explosions and a little bit of maternal angst thanks to the clones for those after a sliver of cerebral activity.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Initial thoughts on hearing of this remake were that it fell into the wide body of unnecessary Hollywood adaptations of previously successful, usually subtitled films. Along with the propensity for sequels, the number of remakes highlights the urge to limit risk in Hollywood, narrowing the chance of original stories getting out.

David Fincher as director sounded promising though, particularly as with more recent films like Social Network he has proven able to turn something that sounds dodgy - a dry tale with an unlikeable lead - into a riveting watch.

Nevertheless, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo swiftly slips into redundancy - two years after the original’s release, it’s still set in Sweden with all the players trying out Scandinavian accents of varying quality, except for our lead Daniel Craig who plays it mostly English.

Whilst his sad dog eyes help bring a gravitas to his version of lead character Mikael, he ultimately feels less vulnerable and less like a normal guy with a passions for investigative journalism - his broad shoulders give him the air of someone who spends proportionately more time at the gym than the library.
Rooney Mara conveys the spiky exterior of Lisbeth guarding a scared and vulnerable core very well, but ultimately little different to Noomi Rapace’s original version.

Worse than this is the ending that ultimately betrays Lisbeth’s character, turning it into just another hokey thriller and undermining her fierce independence. It’s hard to understand how those responsible for deciding to film this in English could change such a key theme.

Despite the odd and gratuitously music video stylings of the opening credits sequence and some pretty camera work, this sequel of an adaptation is totally pointless and worse than the original. Avoid.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

This sequel to the original video game adaptation takes some elements of the game sequel - the zombies spread out into Racoon City and the Nemesis, a hulking, mutated man with a rocket launcher, which stalks our heroes.

Pleasantly surprised to see Jared Harris pop up here, but it was filmed in 2004 before the likes of Fringe and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes sequel presumably brought him access to the bigger bucks.

Milla Jovovich’s Alice has been infected with the T-Virus by the Umbrella Corporation, having being abducted at the end of the first film, but it makes her stronger rather than into a zombie due to bonding with her insides or somesuch guff.
As the zombies spread throughout the city, Umbrella puts a lock down in place and Alice’s only hope is to locate Dr. Ashford (Harris)’s daughter so that he can airlift Alice and whichever rag-tag survivors make it along with her.

Ashord’s daughter is the model for the Red Queen, Umbrella’s Hive AI from the first movie and a recurring character in the series with a creepy 'homicidal little posh girl' vibe, and the Nemesis provides a couple of action-packed sequences what with his mini-gun and rocket launcher, but despite the background being more intricate than a crappy horror series needs Resident Evil: Apocalypse is only okay, better than many recent zombie flicks due to their sheer awfulness.

Ultimately there are hundreds of horror films to see before you would want to give this forgettable effort a try, but at least it’s better than the Saw sequels.


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