Saturday, August 22, 2020

REVIEW: Resident Evil: Degeneration (CGI animated movie)

Resident Evil: Degeneration is an action horror movie, part of the Resident Evil franchise.

This review includes slight spoilers.


I'm going to start this off by saying that I am not the target audience for this movie. My exposure to the Resident Evil franchise is almost solely limited to the live action movies. I've seen a small part of a Let's Play video of one of the games, something where Leon was the  playable character, and I once attempted to play one of the games and didn't even survive more that a few minutes (my first instinct was to try to shoot the zombie rather than avoid it like I was supposed to). I'm sure I missed out on a lot of backstory and world-building.

The movie begins at an airport. Claire Redfield's plane has landed, and she's waiting for her ride with a little girl named Rani when she spots Senator Ron Davis, a self-important guy who's easy to hate. Senator Davis is one of the stockholders of WilPharma, a controversial pharmaceutical company that Claire opposes. Anyway, they barely have a chance to say anything before a zombie attacks, a zombie-infested plane crashes into the airport, and the entire place dissolves into chaos. Luckily for Claire, Rani, and the senator, federal agent Leon S. Kennedy has been sent to the scene for reasons (terrorist threats), and he has time for a rescue mission. His team includes two members of the local Special Response Team, Angela and Greg, neither of whom have a clue what they're in for (even though Leon tells them).

Would this have worked better for me if I'd been a fan of the games? Maybe. It probably would have helped if I'd had more of an emotional connection to the characters and their franchise history. Unfortunately, I didn't, so the weaknesses in the story, characters, and animation probably stood out to me more than they would have otherwise.

Although Angela was intended to be a way to ease in viewers who were less familiar with Resident Evil, this really wasn't intended to be watched by people who hadn't played the games. There was so much that just didn't make an impact with me. Leon was stoic and clearly intended to be cool, but that was pretty much it. For someone who I'd have expected would have zombie PTSD, Claire was surprisingly fine with ending up in yet another potential zombie apocalypse. Heck, she even ventured out of a safe area, armed only with an umbrella, in an attempt to save someone. I couldn't figure out why anyone was still letting companies like WilPharma play around with the T-virus (and worse), but I suppose it wasn't any dumber than people repeatedly reopening Jurassic Park.

Angela was extremely stupid. She didn't listen to Leon when he explained what she'd be up against and almost got herself bit minutes after entering the airport. Then there was the whole thing with the G-virus - she just kept standing there, like she was waiting to get squashed. Her brother was pretty stupid too.

I got this for the zombies, but there actually weren't all that many of them once the airport scenes were finished. From that point on, it was pretty much just the G-virus monster and that was it. And like an awful lot of monsters in horror, the G-virus thing was aiming to breed with Angela, because of course it was. 

I don't know whether the CGI animation looked better when this first came out, but it definitely didn't age well. Characters' facial expressions seemed a little off, like some of the more subtle movements weren't there. Everyone's hands looked like knobbly plastic gloves, and characters' skin only looked okay if they were young and you didn't look too closely. Hair also had issues - the final scene with Angela's hair blowing in the wind was distractingly bad. On the plus side, WilPharma's dome building looked gorgeous, even if its security-related eccentricities were a bit ridiculous. And the humans made better zombies than living beings.

All in all, this really wasn't for me, but I could understand if fans of the games felt differently.


Voice bloopers (which weren't bloopers - more on that in a bit), trailers, a "making of" featurette, a "faux Leon interview" (which was actually an interview with Leon's motion capture actor, who I assume was pretending to be an actor who played Leon, because I can't think of a better explanation for the awkward weirdness of it all), character profiles with stills or short action videos, and trailers for the Resident Evil 5 game.

The featurette confirmed something I'd have otherwise had a hard time believing, that this movie was indeed created to be an English-language film. The director was Japanese, didn't speak English, and communicated with the American motion capture actors using a translator when possible. The motion capture parts were done with American actors rather than Japanese because the director believed that they'd move in ways that meshed more believably with the English dialogue. Which I suppose I could understand, but I was still really surprised that this movie was done the way it was. How (or if) the director handled the voice acting wasn't touched on at all.

Now, the supposed "voice bloopers." I expected audio clips of the voice actors flubbing their lines, and instead all of them were alternate lines that the voice actors either improvised or that they were given to them for a bit of fun. Most of them were so-so and didn't particularly make me laugh, but I did really like the one where Leon was a wimp who didn't want Angela to leave him all alone.

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