Claire Redfield, one of the survivors of the Raccoon City tragedy, meets up with a family in Harvardville Airport. Their meeting turns into a nightmare when zombies suddenly appear and begin a vicious attack. Another survivor of Raccoon City, Leon Kennedy, is sent to the fray teamed up with two members of the SRT (Special Response Team) to rescue survivors. However, there's more to this than just a random zombie attack. -summary
Being one of the most successful video game franchises of the last decade and then some. Resident Evil has received its fair share of exposure with three (by this time) live action films to its credit. To the chagrin of some of the die hard fan base. These movies all seemed to be lacking that feel of the video games, which really shouldn't be anything new to begin with. Most video game to film, and even to anime are always lacking something. In the case of Resident Evil, that survival horror element was somewhat lost, and taking its place was absurd, over the top, super human martial arts action sequences, that up to this day I still take with a grain of salt. Resident Evil: Degeneration happens to be more faithful to the style of the series, even though it's still a rather shaky work as well.
Released in 2008 and directed by Makoto Kamiya, Resident Evil: Degeneration is a computer generated (CG) animated movie, that takes place 7 years after the Raccoon City incident. The movie seems to ignore events of the first game, and follows moments of the second game taking place with Claire and Leon, and a key moment from the third game, which resulted in the total annihilation of the city. Fans of the video game will enjoy these nostalgic moments. While newbies won't be so much as scratching their heads, but they'll be very curious as to what exactly led to these moments and that one cataclysmic event, in which, although these moments are lightly covered, they aren't given the necessary background to flesh them out properly.
Resident Evil is a franchise that has always been known for its very strong story and graphic violence, which in case of the latter, is almost second to none. Unfortunately, this movie is not very strong in either area, but at least it gets the job done somewhat. The movie does focus on government conspiracies and hidden agendas; as well as corruption and espionage on a corporate level to give the story some meat. Which keeps the movie from feeling like just another action romp. But it all feels too familiar, predictable, and just doesn't have that serious punch reminiscent of the games. This also goes for the action, which I really didn't find it at all impressive.
The first half of the plot consists of a battle with the slow moving undead. While the second attempts to engross the viewer in its story through flashbacks, ulterior motives, and the main characters attempting to put an end to the Umbrella Corporations dark legacy. The characters are given decent enough personalities, but they're all present to drive the plot and little else. In any case, there is enough going on here to hold a viewer's attention and the pacing makes the movie a lot easier to sit through.
The action scenes do capture the feel of the game at times. Kamiya exposes his fanboy side in some ways by paying homage to certain aspects of the game. There's quite a bit of gun action with the zombies taking bullets to the head and even the knees. Also, some of the quicker moments and zombie close-ups could have made great cut scenes for any of the video game sequels. There's also a small amount of zombie action via clean bites during the initial break out. Unfortunately, the zombie action is cut kind of short, and I believe there was plenty of room for more. I would have enjoyed seeing more weapons from the game, in addition to heads being blown off and people viciously mauled in graphic detail. This is an area where the game never pulled punches.
For the most part, I thought the CG was really good. There was plenty of focus on the characters facial expressions, and their emotions were well captured. Most of the action scenes were pretty fluid, and one scene during a quick escape, displayed the absolute best in the fast moving cells and splendid camera work. I also thought the character designs were very good, and the animators didn't take the lazy route by making everyone of the same design. The latest Tyrant monster was definitely awesome and payed tribute to the past incarnations. If I could think of any flaws in the animation, it would be the stiffness I noticed in some characters, and the characters clothes didn't seem to flow well with the movements. Although there was nothing truly noteworthy, the BGM did its job catching the right moods for me concerning drama and action.
The voice acting was spot on for the character models, and features well known voice talents in the anime world; Steve Blum (Spike of Cowboy Bebop) Crispin Freeman (Karasu of Noein), Laura Bailey (Lust of Fullmetal Alchemist), and Michelle Ruff (Rukia of Bleach). At times, there was a bit of over-acting that grated on my nerves. Still, it was a good job overall.
Resident Evil: Degeneration was good to me, when compared to many video games to movies, which really isn't saying much I know. I think most fans will get something out of this, and non fans will find some enjoyment as well. But I highly encourage anyone who hasn't played any of the games in the franchise to do so. Along with the other live action versions, this movie does the games no justice at all. As far as story continuity, loyalty to the source material, and style, it's a step in the right direction for sure. The movie has a 96 minute run time.
-Some good animation and visuals
-Mainly for fans
-Animation has its flaws
-Action is nothing compared to game
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