The genre of movie video-game adaptations has single-handedly done more to ruin the name of cinema for future generations than even the full force of Sajid Khans, Anees Bazmees, Madhur Bhandarkars and their “inspired” Bollywood cahoots combined can ever claim of doing so. Not even big-ticket names like Mark Wahlberg, Angelina Jolie or Jake Gyllenhaal have been able to redeem the genre that has contributed to some of the lowest-rated films in movie history.
The genre’s top achievement, unarguably, remains the birth and rise of a beast called Uwe Boll, a director, who once famously held a series of boxing matches – real ones – against five of his harshest critics in a bizarre publicity stunt dubbed as “Raging Boll.” Boll, who is the only filmmaker in the world with two films in IMDB’s top 10 bottom-rated films, not only beat the journalists – he actually beat the c**p out of them – but also went on to claim that he is the “only f**king genius in the entire movie business” and that other directors like Michael Bay and Eli Roth are “re**rds.”
If seen in context of this glorious history of unabashed talent and magical cinema to live upto, the Resident Evil movie series is like art. And not the kind of terrible art your five-year-old nephew makes and you call it ‘art’ to avoid being punched in the face by his parents, but Van Gogh kind of art: art that spawns lots of sequels, and art that makes millions of dollars. And that makes director Paul WS Anderson, the Van Gogh of the video-game adaptation world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the least insinuating here that the Resident Evil movies are good by *any* standard, I’m merely saying that in a genre with such colossal expectations of complete and unadulterated c**p to live upto, Resident Evil has surprisingly managed to retain audiences for five movies and garnered over $700 million dollars (including the massive international opening the latest installment has had).
Let’s see what works in favour of the movies, first. Wherein other video-game movie adaptations are generally glorified B-movies with small budgets and tacky production values, Resident Evil is an uncompromising B-movie, which utilizes in the best possible way special effects, and recently, 3D, with fantastic production values and awesome action sequences. Prince of Persia and Max Payne failed here because they didn’t consider themselves as (and probably didn’t *know*) that they were B-movies too.
Then of course, there’s lead actress Milla Jovovich, who plays the protagonist Alice, a security operative, who turned against the company that she worked for, because it unwittingly started a zombie apocalypse. Jovovich, who was earlier best-known for Bruce Willis-starrer The Fifth Element, plays the B-movie action hero(ine) role with such delight and conviction – and can really kick-butt in action scenes - that there are times when you actually may mistake the film for a good one. And it only helps that she looks scorching hot in latex.
Finally, there’s director Paul WS Anderson, whose greatest claims to fame include being the name-doppelganger (if there is such a thing) of one of the best directors of this generation, Paul Thomas Anderson, and well, marrying Milla Jovovich. Anderson kicked off the series and returned to helm the fourth and fifth installments, which are the better ones in the series, though that’s not saying much. Like Jovovich, Anderson, who has his way with 3D and special effects, give subtle glimpses, every now and then, that he may not really be a bad director, but his problem remains that he suffers from acute Himesh Reshammiyatis: he can’t just be a director, he needs to be the writer too.
As for the bad, the movies are plot-less, emotion-less and leave-your-brains at home sort-of experiences, and are worth watching mostly when there’s no other film playing at the theaters. Resident Evil: Retribution is exactly like that too – with a plot that brings back many dead characters from earlier movies, including the badass Michelle Rodriguez, and unites Alice with former villain Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) to take on the evil Red Queen, who seems determined to wipe out whatever’s left of humanity.
So should you watch the film or not? Well, if you are getting to watch it for free, it’s not entirely bad entertainment, albeit brainless, but if you’ve seen any of the previous installments and prefer movies with some semblance of a plot, you’d do well to skip this for the exact reason that any video-game fanatic would want to watch this movie: The Resident Evil movies are not so much video-game adaptations, they *are* video games.
Resident Evil: Retribution is playing across cinemas in India