Zombies won’t die

Resident Evil keeps the genre alive

Resident Evil: Retribution
Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R.
Rated 3.0

The Resident Evil franchise has a lot to answer for. In 2002, the box office success of the first one resurrected a genre that had been considered passé for the decade after Michael Jackson made dancing clowns out of ghouls. Sure, the modest successes of 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead a few months later helped, but Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptation of the Resident Evil video game pretty much led to the mainstreaming of the walking dead.

Whether zombies in the living room are a good or bad thing depends on your appreciation or antipathy toward the genre.

Now, I’m not gonna claim that the Resident Evil series is great filmmaking. It’s not. But I have found it to be perfectly enjoyable nonsense (well, aside for the second one). There’s not much of a narrative thread holding the series together: Alice (asskickin’ babe Milla Jovovich) is a renegade clone who fights zombies as she levels up through the insidious multinational Umbrella Corporation. There are also other mutants on hand, just for variety. And that’s pretty much it. And they’ve pulled five movies out of that!

Anyway, Resident Evil: Retribution is more of the same perfectly enjoyable nonsense. It never aspires to be anything more than just a video game slapped on the big screen, with in-game cutscenes and levels instead of a narrative, but the sustained mayhem balances out the horrible acting and video-game level dialogue. Actually, knowing Anderson’s odd appreciation for meta-jokes, the acting and dialogue just might be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the clumsiness of video-game writing. He even inexplicably resurrects Max Headroom. And brings back Michelle Rodriguez, which is always a good thing. Although she can’t play nice to save her life.

Definitely a movie to hoot at with your ghoulfriends.