Last week, I reviewed a movie called "Branded," a terrible little film about evil corporations, narrating space cows and evil blob monsters made of brands. Despite these seemingly ridiculous elements, however, the movie is somehow no fun at all. Every time I explained "Branded"'s plot to people, I would have to keep repeating "It's not as hilarious as it sounds."
"Resident Evil: Retribution," on the other hand, is just as hilarious as it sounds. It's one of those magical movies that manages to do so much wrong but in the best, most entertaining ways possible.
The somehow fifth installment of the undying "Resident Evil" franchise continues the adventures of Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she attempts to take down the ludicrously diabolical Umbrella Corporation (they don't seem to understand that no one can buy your products if everyone is dead).
After an admittedly slick opening credits sequence followed by a far less slick five-minute montage of exposition to explain what happened in the last four films (it doesn't help anything make more sense), it's back to the back flips and machine guns as Alice must escape an underground Umbrella lab in snowy Russia. She, as well as the rescue team sent to save her, must fight their way through multiple waves of bad guys, a few of which include former teammates gone bad (including Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr).
Not since the first-person shooter sequence in "Doom" has a movie so resembled a video game on screen. The first half of the film solely involves Alice moving from room to room, killing zombies. Level one is Umbrella's well-lit headquarters. Level two is rainy Tokyo, which ends with a boss fight against not one, but two beasts with massive spiky hammers. It's OK, though, because Ada Wong (Bingbing Li) fights along side Alice. Two-player co-op!
Most of the accidental fun of "Resident Evil: Retribution" comes in these early action scenes when the movie has almost no discernable story or characters and is just a collection of video game levels that must be beaten. Jump attack! Reload! Double kill! Time for a vehicle section! Get to the checkpoint! Uh oh, Nazi Zombie mode! The movie even has a holographic map screen that occasionally pops up to show our heroes' progress. All that's missing are little health bars to show how much life our characters have and if they have any health kits.
The mindless action could be genuinely exciting (tomanandy's throbbing techno-synth score certainly helps, minus one part that is an identical copy of Zimmer's "Inception" score), but besides the change in location, every fight looks and feels the same. The only exception is the last fight scene, which feels longer and far more tedious than the others.
It's hard to feel like much is at stake either. Alice seems to have an endless supply of clone lives so dying isn't really a concern, and the story establishes that everything is just a simulation. Maybe. The plot, fumblingly doled out in brief moments of dull exposition (which comprise almost all of the dialogue), makes almost no logical sense.
The acting doesn't help the audience care much either, though it does make for some good laughs. Even after four movies, Jovovich doesn't look comfortable as Alice (though I don't know how comfortable I'd be in that skintight mess of spandex and belts that she's wearing throughout "Retribution"). The script tries to give her a little girl to care about, but she's an afterthought. Plus, it's hard to believe Alice really cares when she only has two facial reactions: pensive confusion and the angry "what smells?" face she puts on during action scenes.
The comedic triumph of "Resident Evil: Retribution," though, is Sienna Guillory. The British actress, decked out in an absurd purple jumpsuit and a mind-controlling silver necklace, says every line with the same emotional passion that one has for their socks. She doesn't even look right in the action scenes, squatting into unconvincing poses while shooting her guns like she's personally pushing the bullets out.
It's hilarious non-performances like Guillory's that make me think if the "Resident Evil" series continues (and it really doesn't have to. Seriously, Screen Gems, you can stop making these movies anytime now), it should go in the direction of self-parody. "Retribution" shows it has the chops for comedy, at least of the unintentional variety.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published April 23, 2015
Lord Huron doesn't quite trek to the stars like it said it might on its new album "Strange Trails," but the folk band is still going places. Its dreamy musical vistas have nabbed a big audience -- so much so that demand moved the band's return to The Pabst Theater on Saturday, April 25 over to the Riverside. Before then, I got a chance to chat with frontman Ben Schneider about "Strange Trails," the stories that come with it and going to space (at some point).
Published April 22, 2015
I've had some less than flattering things to say about found footage in recent years, calling it things like "the worst of today's low budget Hollywood filmmaking" and "a thing that shouldn't exist anymore." So let's all take a moment and marvel at the fact that in the new techno-horror flick "Unfriended," the found footage-esque visual gimmick not only works, but it's the best part of the movie. The result isn't much for scares, but it is scarily entertaining.
Published April 21, 2015
Welcome back to Unceremonious Overqualified Movie Dump Theatre. The most recent entry: "Child 44," which features an impressive roster of stars but was cut down to a mere 510 theaters just a few weeks before its release. It was a bad omen and unfortunately an accurate one as well, as the apparent lack of confidence from the studio equals a lack of quality on the screen.
Published April 20, 2015
The Maine is currently on the road right now, touring in support of its latest album "American Candy," released just last month on March 31. Its current tour lands at The Rave on Wednesday, April 22. Before then, OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with guitarist Jared Monaco about the new album, as well as his appreciation for The Rave and ... NSYNC.
Published April 18, 2015
Before the fairy tale riff "Peter and the Starcatcher" starts its run at the Milwaukee Rep on Tuesday, April 21, OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with director Blake Robison about this particular Peter Pan retelling, making actors fly and why revisionist fairy tales are currently all the rage.
Published April 17, 2015
The Wisconsin State Fair's Main Stage lineup this summer features some of the biggest names the celebration has wrangled up in recent note. And the biggest of the bunch - or at least certainly the most unusual - is tightrope artist extraordinaire Nik Wallenda. OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to talk one-on-one with the stuntman about preparing for another life-threatening performance and being in a highwire family dynasty that shows no sign of stopping.
Published April 17, 2015
The Riverside's distant past will become the present as the legendary theater will play host to two screenings of the beloved 1942 classic "Casablanca" Friday and Saturday night. And to complete the blast to the past vibe of the event, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will perform Max Steiner's famous score alongside the movie.
Published April 15, 2015
Eugene Ionesco's 1950 play "The Bald Soprano" - the first the famed playwright ever wrote - is an absurdist classic. It's one of the most performed shows in France with a permanent repertory spot at Theatre de la Huchette since 1957 and a large number of interpretations. It's safe to say, however, that few to none of those interpretations featuring digital actors getting beamed in like "Star Trek" characters.
Published April 14, 2015
The Blue Man Group is famous for several things: funky instruments, those old Intel ads, Tobias Funke proclaiming that "I blue myself!" on "Arrested Development" and, of course, the whole being covered in blue paint thing. But one of the crucial elements of the Blue Man Group is that they don't talk. So imagine my surprise in getting to interview a Blue Man (at least the transcription would be easy).
Published April 14, 2015
Tomorrow night, after weeks of anticipation and online voting, the Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDIs) will name the winners at a ceremony at the Potawatomi Event Center. However, there's still 24 hours left to learn about these community-impacting individuals and organizations and vote for the Wells Fargo People's Choice Award before the polls close and the numbers are tallied up.