Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)


Waiting for a Written Invitation?

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)Why would someone feel so compelled to watch 5 movies in a series that was never really that good to begin with?  I don’t have an answer to that question.  I do know the person that would do such a thing: me.  Every time this series releases a new movie, I feel like there’s no way I’m going to watch it.  I let it get all the way through the theaters too.  But when it comes to DVD, I always check it out.  There’s no excuse for my actions.  I’m contributing to this.  It’s like I’m watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians or the Jersey Shore or something.  But I can’t help myself.  And so you will be dragged into my psychosis as I review Resident Evil: Retribution, written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and starring Milla Jovovich, Li Bingbing, Shawn Roberts, Sienna Guillory, Aryana Engineer, Johann Urb, Kevin Durand, Boris Kodjoe, Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr, Colin Salmon, Megan Charpentier, and Mika Nakashima.

Alice (Milla Jovovich) is a normal housewife that lives with her husband Todd (Oded Fehr) and their deaf daughter Becky (Aryana Engineer).  OR IS SHE?!?!  No, she’s actually a zombie killing machine.  Well, one of her is.  There’re a lot of clones in the Umbrella facility she wakes up in.  The real-ish one wakes up and is getting interrogated by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), who has been brainwashed by Umbrella.  Alice escapes to find herself in a giant, underwater facility designed to test the zombies or some shit.  We spend the rest of the movie watching Alice escape this facility with the help of Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), who have all been sent by Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), who is a good guy now, I guess.  The Red Queen (Megan Charpentier) is also back, and she uses clones of Alice’s original team – Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez), Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), and James Shade (Colin Salmon) – to try to stop them.

This movie is exactly what you expect.  I think it was Jonah Ray on the Nerdist podcast that acknowledged that these movies are lower class cinema, but that he could not help but be excited that they were coming out.  I never get so far as to say that I’m excited for them to come out, but they are enjoyable in their stupid simplicity.  The same goes for this movie.  It’s definitely not a good movie, but it’s enjoyable if you just shut your brain down and watch.  That’s the way they’re meant to be watched; with an aneurism.  They don’t really seem to be trying too hard either.  First off, the story is really not much more than Alice trying to figure out how to get out of a facility.  And that facility is full of various landscapes representing different places in the world, so they’re going to act like Alice is spanning the globe on the poster for the movie even though she’s not leaving that one facility.  But don’t worry; if you forget that all these places are fake, everyone in the movie will need to remind Alice several thousand times.  But she’s pretty, so brains are really irrelevant.  The same kind of goes for the writers of this movie and their ability to pull off some sweet one-liners.  They all fell completely flat.  Alice hits some baddies with a, “Hey boys.  Bad idea,” when she blows a car up in their faces.  You’re not even trying now, guys.  Bad idea works if you blow up a light bulb in their face or something.  That situation demands more of a “Here’s your ride” line.  I’ll need to refer you to Batman & Robin for proper usage of horrible one-liners.  Then you miss out on another good opportunity after Leon proclaims, “We’re gonna be okay,” and you didn’t have the Red Queen pop up and say, “Activating ‘Famous Last Words’ Protocols.”  It also bummed me out that it seemed clear that this game was not made for fans of the Resident Evil games, or even gamers for that matter.  All gamers know about the concept of a weak spot.  And all Resident Evil fans remember that the way to beat brainwashed Jill was to shoot the giant red spider brooch in the center of her cleavage.  And it wasn’t just obvious because all gamers were probably staring at her sweet rack.  Well it took this killing machine lady about 15 minutes before someone else told her to shoot at the bull’s-eye between Jill’s tits.

The look and the action in the movie worked out pretty well throughout.  The first scene in the movie was interesting because they were basically playing the last scene of the previous movie in slow motion reverse.  And, for a while, I thought they were going to play the entire movie in reverse because it went on so long.  But the movie seemed completely aware of the fact that its story wasn’t going to support it, so it made sure it was decently full of action.  The hallway battle early on in the movie was pretty sweet, even though it didn’t really have anything to do with the story.  I didn’t really care though because I didn’t really care about the story.  That way, it’s perfectly fine to make your action scenes just a bit of jerkin’ off because it had been three minutes since something blow’d up.  When the executioners showed up later, I was a little bit thrown off over how much they were ripped off from Pyramid Head from Silent Hill, but I’m pretty sure I remember them from the game too, so I can’t really blame the movie for that.  I also realized that this movie had a total Star Trek thing going on because guys wearing masks were the red shirts of this thing.  Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr would come out of battles unscathed because they had the sense to not cover their faces.

Most of the performances were entirely acceptable and not much more.  I thought it was cool that they got the original team from the first movie back for this one, but I also thought it got a little confusing that there were like 4 versions everyone.  The only thing I thought about Milla Jovovich is that her housewife character was fuckin’ stupid for throwing away her baseball bat after one use.  That shit still works.  Li Bingbing was also pretty good.  Her performance wasn’t anything special, but she looked good in that Ada Wong outfit.  I did have some problems with Sienna Guillory.  She definitely looked the part, and definitely had some sweet knockers, but she delivered her lines super robotic and paused in weird places.  I guess she could’ve decided that it was the way someone who was brainwashed would act, but I just felt like she decided to let her tits do the talkin’.

Resident Evil: Retribution is exactly what I’m sure everyone expects.  It’s a big, dumb action movie.  And it lives up to every bit of it.  It’s so huge in scale that it’s unsatisfied with the idea of having their movie appear as if it was filmed in only one global hemisphere.  And, even though the story was weak, the action was fun and frequent.  It will probably not be the last time I say it about the Resident Evil franchise, but you know what you’re getting and it always delivers.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you buy this, but it’s a fun rental.  Resident Evil: Retribution gets “I’m kinda enjoying myself” out of “I’ve heard that before.”

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The Three Musketeers (2011)


We Live in a Kingdom Controlled by Fear

Have you ever wanted to see a classic novel like The Three Musketeers designed like Wild Wild West?  Yeah, me neither.  But that didn’t stop them from making one.  In the past, I’ve found myself less than impressed with the work of Paul W.S. Anderson, but I’m usually happy about the fact that his involvement generally brings Milla Jovovich, who I am always happy to watch.  And, what’s more than that, I love a good sword fight.  So I guess what made me have any interest in potentially watching Anderson destroy a story I love was the hotness of Jovovich and the promise of sword fighting.  Let’s see what happened in my review of The Three Musketeers, loosely based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, written by Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and starring Logan Lerman, Matthew MacFadyen, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Milla Jovovich, Christoph Waltz, Freddie Fox, Orlando Bloom, Juno Temple, Mads Mikkelsen, Gabriella Wilde, James Corden, and Til Schweiger.

For no particular reason, the Three Musketeers – Athos (Matthew MacFadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans) – and Athos’ lady friend, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), are trying to steal plans for an airship designed by Leonardo da Vinci.  Having gotten a better offer, de Winter drugs the Musketeers and gives the plans over to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).  A year later, D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), leaves Gascony for Paris to become a Musketeer.  When he gets to Paris, a series of misunderstandings lead to him having consecutive duels with all three Musketeers, but it’s broken up by the guards of Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), the diabolical priest-y dude that’s trying to take control of France from King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox).  The Musketeers find out that Cardinal Richelieu is trying to take over France with an elaborate plot to make it seem like Louis’ queen, Anne (Juno Temple), had been banging the bejesus out of the Duke of Buckingham.  I don’t know how that will help him take control of France, but you just go along with it.  The Musketeers have to stop the plot, D’Artagnan starts wanting a piece of the Queen’s lady-in-waiting Constance (Gabriella Wilde), and that airship comes back into the movie.

This isn’t what I would call a “good movie”, but it was decently fun for all of it’s stupidity.  I think that what I didn’t like about this actually had nothing to do with Paul W.S. Anderson.  It was mainly the story.  Yeah, it’s LOOSELY based on a fantastic novel, but it kind of fucks of what made the novel good.  The novel was a lot of fun, and the movie is as well, but they started to lose me when they brought in the giant airship, which was basically one of the boats from Pirates of the Caribbean with a balloon on the top.  My mind instantly went back to watching Wild Wild West and seeing that big, ridiculous, mechanical spider.  The airship was slightly more plausible than the spider, but still pretty ludicrous.  So ridiculous was it that, when the Musketeers were escaping from their pursuing airship by flying into some storm clouds, I half expected the response to “You’re never going to find them in there” to be them activating the medieval radar, which would essentially be them pulling a lever and dropping a whale out of the bottom of the ship and using it’s echolocation to find the other airship.  It wouldn’t have been that farfetched to me when contrasted with the flying pirate ships.  My remaining complaints on the story require ::SPOILER ALERTS::  First, one of the most memorable things about the Three Musketeers what the fate of Milady de Winter, and this movie pissed on that well and good.  In the novel, it’s a very memorable part when Athos is forced to have de Winter executed for her betrayal, even though he loves her.  It’s a very poignant scene.  They go for it in a sense here, but then put it under the glass coffee table and shit all over it’s chest.  It takes place on the airship and Athos is going to shoot her, but she dives off the airship into the water – easily ten stories above the water – in order to save Athos from the regret of killing her himself.  Naturally we assume, understanding physics as we do, that falling from that height and hitting water would be roughly the same as hitting concrete and de Winter would be pulverized, so I was okay with the way they decided to stick to the book.  At the end of the movie, the Duke of Buckingham fishes her out of the water, alive but a bit confused.  And she walked pretty well for someone whose BONES WOULD BE POWDER!  And that’s not even mentioning the unlikelihood of someone actually being able to locate someone adrift in the ocean.  Athos also was going to kill her because she betrayed France and it was his duty, not something stupid and selfish like his own hatred.  I also didn’t understand the idea of letting the Cardinal get away with his attempted betrayal, but I can’t really shit on it because I don’t remember what happened to him in the book.  ::END SPOILER::

One could argue that Paul W.S. Anderson had at least some control over the script, but since I don’t know his level of involvement, I can’t really blame the story on him.  The parts that I would expect a director to be in control of were actually pretty enjoyable, with a couple of complaints.  The main complaint comes from the answer to this question: what do you think of when you think about the Three Musketeers?  For me (and probably most people) it’s sword fights.  There isn’t an actual sword fight until about a half hour into the movie.  That’s not to say there isn’t action for the first 30 minutes, but they made the characters that I think of as iconic examples of sword fighters into people to whom swords were fairly secondary to pistols or fists.  And, in the case of Porthos, baskets he’s found laying around.  Some solid swordplay comes up later, but it bothered me that they would rather give the Musketeers some fantasy contraptions instead of having them sword fight.  And the action scenes were pretty fun, although they did use slo-mo a little much for my tastes.  I was a bit confused by Athos because he stabbed a guy in the chest and then headbutted him.  Why would you do that?  He’s already dead.  If you wanted to hurt your own head, you could’ve just face-planted after stabbing him.  Another thing that made me dislike the giant airships in this movie was that it was more time where they were doing action without the sword fighting I came to see.  It was just like Pirates of the Caribbean cannon battles in midair.  At one point, de Winter has to steal some jewelry from the Queen, and they tried really hard to fit in the overused classic of red lasers in a hallway that you can only see by blowing some powder down the hall.  To do that, they used thin, nearly invisible razor wire.  It worked well enough.

The performances were very hit and miss in this movie.  The person who could be considered the main character, Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan, did not work for me.  He reminded me of Keanu Reeves in his delivery, and that’s not really a compliment.  His delivery was quasi-surfer dude in a time period that didn’t support that.  I also didn’t like a couple of things they did with his character, like how he would defend his horse’s honor … to the death!  This also happened right before another stupidity on his part.  Moments before, his father warned him that his opponents might not be as honorable as him.  Then, the first thing he does when he gets into a fight is to turn his back on his opponent.  He gets shot for it, but sadly it was only a flesh wound.  Also, when he finally kills Rochefort, he stabs him in the chest with his heirloom sword that his father gave him and then lets him fall off of the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral with it still in his chest.  I know that you could go and take it from his corpse on the floor, but you also could have kept your fuckin’ sword by just pulling it out, dumbass.  I thought all three of the main Musketeers did very well, but did nothing particularly standout.  Milla Jovovich did a fine job, but I was mainly looking to see her be hot, so I got that.  Gabriella Wilde as Constance and Juno Temple as the Queen were also very beautiful.  Christoph Waltz did an the job you’d expect from a great actor like him, but you do begin to wonder about his choices in movies now that he’s getting to be a big name in America. Orlando Bloom seemed much more gay than usual in this movie, even though he was trying to be a badass.  Also, James Corden as Planchet, the fat comic relief, was annoying, and in the film far too often.

The Three Musketeers was exactly what I expected it to be.  They took a good story and wiped their asses with it, but had some decent action that was perhaps a bit light on the swordplay for my tastes.  Altogether it was a dumb movie, but fun enough that I don’t regret the dollar I rented it for.  I’d say it’s worth checking out from the RedBox, but you’ll also do alright if you never get around to watching it.  It’s the dumb fun for a night of shutting off your brains, or making fun of it with your friends.  I still like the Kiefer Sutherland/Charlie Sheen/Oliver Platt movie a lot better.  This version of The Three Musketeers get “Are you always this cocky?” out of “Lower the whale!”

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