Resident Evil: Degeneration

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Resident Evil: Degeneration

Postby Narcosis » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:14 pm

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Resident Evil was one of the landmark game releases during the PS1 era that has since spawned a franchise complete with a numerical sequence of four (soon to be five) mainline videogames, numerous game spinoffs, three live action motion pictures and a bunch of other swag ranging from comic books to t shirts. The latest Resident Evil cash-cow is a new CGI film called Degeneration, made as a collaboration between Capcom (creators of RE and many other notable game franchises) and Sony Pictures' CGI division, responsible for animated works like Surf's Up and the 2 Final Fantasy films. Breaking away from the plots of the live action trilogy, Degeneration instead seeks to serve as a direct sequel to the game Resident Evil 4 and bridge the gap between that iteration of the series and the upcoming release of RE5.

Taking place some 7 years after the events of the Raccoon City disaster chronicled in the first 3 RE games, Degeneration starts off with RE2 protagonist Claire Redfield arriving at an airport that soon becomes the scene of a bio-terror incident involving a shady Senator and a black market strain of the zombie creating T-Virus created by the now-defunct Umbrella Corporation. With Claire, the Senator and a few other survivors trapped in an airport terminal that's been sealed off by a crashed plane carrying T-virus infectees, a special ops task force led by RE2/RE4 hero Leon Kennedy must rescue the survivors and deal with the terrorist who seeks to use the T-virus to create more deadly outbreaks if his demands are not met.

Story wise, there really should be low expectations going into anything related to Resident Evil, but this movie just reeked of cheesiness in and out. Almost every aspect of the plot is groan inducing, whether it's Leon's corny tough guy dialogue during his intro and the airport scenes or his sudden and ridiculous instant bloom of romance with Angela while submerged in water in the midst of a life threatening disaster. I could also go on about the suspension of disbelief required to accept that a gross trollish fat slob like Ron Davis could actually win a US Senate election, that the CEO of WilPharm would find any reason at all to bring someone like Claire into the most top secret parts of his research lab, or that Curtis and Angela Miller, brother and sister, would just coincidentally happen to be on opposing ends of the film's conflict along with the ever so convenient presence of other Raccoon City survivors like Leon and Claire.

Of course, these problems would easily be overlooked, but just as a zombie film in general, Degeneration has nothing on more competent zombie lore like Romero films. Perhaps if they had removed the whole WilPharm arc of the story and just made Degeneration a Dawn of the Dead style zombie flick about Leon and Claire escaping from the airport for 90 minutes it would have been better, but even that might be stretching it.

Production wise, Degeneration may be the black mark on Sony Pictures' CGI film output. After viewing their previous work, one would have to wonder how Capcom allowed them to get away with releasing this film with animation that almost looks a whole generation behind their last game-centric CGI film, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Where Advent Children also featured a weak plot it more than made up for it with amazing production values and visual fighting choreography that Degeneration totally lacks. Many of the character models in Degeneration are reminiscent of aged PS1 game CGI cutscene models, and to say that some of the character animation looks stiff is an understatement. Leon Kennedy for instance seems to have the same rigor-mortis standing pose for most of the film whenever he's not doing something with his gun. Now, it's not all bad, the environmental design is done well, the special effects like water spray and fire are nice and overall it is fairly competent looking even in 1080 HD, but the character designs and animation diminish the overall experience.

Audio wise the English VA is competent, neither being terribly good or bad, and the music and sound effects come across about how you'd expect. Special features on the disc include the original Japanese language tracks, some preview trailers, a short mini-documentary chronicling the creation of Degeneration, a comedic mock interview with the mo-cap actor for Leon and some preview trailers for the soon-coming game Resident Evil 5.

All in all Resident Evil: Degeneration is not something I'd recommend spending any good money on unless you are the most diehard of the diehard RE otaku and need it just to complete your collection. At most it's a renter for your Netflix account or a way to spend 90 minutes wondering what you are doing with your life. I'd seriously have a hard time justifying anyone watching this when all 3 of the live action films are better, and beyond that someone could instead do themselves a huge favor and watch a classic Romero zombie movie or play through RE4. Degeneration is not the worst game-to-film translation out there, but saying it's better than the Super Mario Bros movie is not saying much of anything. Unless you live, eat, sleep and breathe all things Resident Evil, you may just wanna forget this film exists.

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Re: Resident Evil: Degeneration

Postby LinxCross » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:37 pm

Hahaha, I knew you wouldn't like it. I think it works as a homage to the old games as the plot pretty much follows the same formula.
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Re: Resident Evil: Degeneration

Postby RenoVSCid » Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:31 pm

I think I had almost the exact opposite opinion. I think you're right about the animation being a bit behind the curve set by Advent Children, but I thought story wise it was pretty decent. It seemed like an extended cut scene for at least the ps2, maybe even Wii RE4. I also like that (as far as I can tell) that they used the same voice actor for Leon as in Resident Evil 4. I'm a big fan of VA continuity. I also like how they brought it the stuff about the T and G viruses and linked those back into the movie plot. I think this movie did exactly what it set out to do, come up with a simple story with a conflict that could be solved within a 90 min time frame. Its short and enjoyable, I'd probably give it a B.
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Re: Resident Evil: Degeneration

Postby Narcosis » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:49 am

I guess here's where my much lower opinion of Degenration comes in when compared to the other opinions voiced. I was expecting Degenration to be a movie first. This means an interesting plot, good dialogue and good cinematography. I was not letting my low opinions of the first 3 RE games in on this because my low opinions of the games are hugely influenced by game centric things such as clunky controls. Truth is there's many great games with bad plots and writing (see RE4), but a movie is just narrative and visual presentation with no interactive fun and the fact that Degenration came across to me as a bad 90 min classic RE cutscene makes me have a low opinion of it since I feel it should stand alone as just a great action/zombie movie.
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