Resident Evil: Degeneration
- Director: Makoto Kamiya
- Writer: Shotaro Suga
- Year of Release: 2008
- Actors: Alyson Court (voice), Paul Mercier (voice), Laura Bailey (voice), Salli Saffioti (voice)
- Genre: (Survival/Action) Horror
- Country of Origin: Japan, USA
I love Resident Evil. Not so much the movies, but the games (reallyÂ¦the third film was so over the top it’s not even funny, and yet they’re still talking about a fourth even with the army-of-Alice endingÂ¦). I don’t care if the zombies are actual zombies, if they have parasites instead of an infection, or if you can’t decide if the series’ genre is Survival Horror or Action Horror. No, the reason I like the Resident Evil series so much is because of the story. It’s a classic underdog scenario; a small group of dedicated people risk life, limb, and teeth marks on their extremities to fight an evil, deceitful, money-hungry bioweapons company. This love of this narrative is what drove me to track down Resident Evil: Degeneration with the same fervour as Wesker trying to get a sample of the latest bioweapons threat, and that same love that has left me disappointed with Capcom’s first game tie-in film.
Following the game series and disregarding Sony’s three live-action films, Resident Evil: Degeneration picks up seven years after the zombie outbreak in Racoon City, featured in the Resident Evil 1, 2, and 3 games, and one year after the events of Resident Evil 4. Umbrella, the bioweapons firm disguising itself as a family-friendly pharmaceutical company, is no more and a new company is discreetly moving in the shadows to take its place under the direction of original baddie Albert Wesker.
Degeneration features a reunion of two characters introduced in Resident Evil 2: Claire Redfield, also featured in Resident Evil: Code: VeronicaÂ¸ and Leon Kennedy, the main protagonist of Resident Evil 4.
With a total of six core games in the series, the Resident Evil world is continually expanding. After the Racoon City outbreak and the city’s subsequent destruction, it only makes sense that Umbrella’s deception would come to light. The fall of the evil company was necessary to push the series story forward, and so too was the loss of the beloved underdog angle. Capcom has done a wonderful job in evolving the story in this manner; as Umbrella has fallen, so too have their secrets and their research. Degeneration follows this path and explains to us that their bioweapons technologies have been leaked to many research organisations and terrorist cells. To combat this new threat, government departments, such as the one Leon Kennedy is employed by, have been set up to respond to bioterrorism incidents. Claire Redfield takes a different path then Kennedy, instead opting to join a private humanitarian group called Terra-Save. So far so good â€œ we’re treated a logical progression of character and general story development. Unfortunately, this information was almost better suited for the liner notes of the next actual game.
What happens next is stock-standard Resident Evil: Claire arrives at the airport of a small town that just so happens to also have an HQ of a threatening pharmaceutical company in it, to meet up with friends. The T-virus from the original games is released, zombies ensue. Leon jumps in with US Marines in tow to save the day, only to find out that the threat was far more severe than originally thought. Claire, who is respected by fans of the video game series for being an independent, strong woman, injures herself and is regulated to the background as a mostly helpless victim (I mean, come on! She’s the only one in the series now without the benefit of formal combat training who has walked away a veteran survivor!), while Leon and a new character, Special Response Team member Angela Miller, head to the pharmaceutical company’s hi-tech atrium to combat the latest monster-of-the-game.
It looks like a game; the CG even looks like it’s been lifted from the aforementioned Resident Evil 1, 2, or 3 games. The problem is, this isn’t a game and the stock-standard game formula doesn’t cut it. With a game, you can slowly develop a story around solid gameplay; this film forgets that viewers can’t pick up a controller and fill in the gaps with a couple headshots. There are scenes near the ending of the film that do act as a set-up for the upcoming Resident Evil 5, but they could have been created and packaged with the new game as a 5 minute prologue story. Surprisingly, super-baddie Albert Wesker has been used by Capcom in teaser trailer after trailer to promote the new game, but isn’t even mentioned in passing in the film.
Those accustomed to the live-action films will struggle to understand what’s going onÂ¦or if they do get the plot, they’ll struggle to care, as the ultimate threat that Leon and Claire face isn’t that elaborate. Die-hard fans of the game series will make as many allowances to love what’s being presented, but will come out of the experience a bit jaded. Blu-ray editions of the film feature clips of the latest, soon to be released game, which only reinforce that Resident Evil 5 looks FAR prettier than Degeneration does. The CG in the film looks like it was made about seven years ago, with waxy characters and stiff movement that you’d expect from a last-generation game. Fans are also treated to scant new details relating to the series overall story arc â€œ you basically walk away from the film with the name of the new company that’s set to torment the series’ main characters, though true fans already would have known that from Resident Evil 5 tidbits.
All in all, this game is truly deserving of a Shite-minus. Viewers are treated to a boring plot, bad CG, and long-waiting series fans will be astounded at how such a cool idea (reuniting Clare and Leon) could go so badly. Avoid at all costs and pick up Resident Evil 5 in March (or download the demo now!) to truly walk away satisfied.
Screencaps from: http://blog.wired.com/games/2008/10/review-resident.html
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