Resident Evil: Degeneration -- Review

A feature-length animated movie version of the Resident Evil video game series seems a little redundant, doesn't it? If you're a player of the games, then you're no doubt familiar with the animated "cut scenes" that arrive in between the actual gaming portions of the experience. The first time you played the game, you probably gave most of the "cut scenes" a shot because you were really trying to get into the story and whatnot -- and this actually does add something to the experience, in most cases. But by the fourth or fifth or four-hundredth time you hacked your way through Resident Evil 4, you probably skipped through the "cut scenes" as fast as your thumbs could manage.

So why would we want 92 minutes of animation and zero minutes of game-play?

A good question, and one that’s only partially answered in Resident Evil: Degeneration, which is a Japanese production in "American-style" CG animation and jam-packed with most of the stuff that fans expect from this gore-soaked franchise. Which is sort of the problem: For all of Degeneration's fantastic animation, as a whole the piece suffers from choppy storytelling, clumsy dialog, and some really bland voice dubs. But if you're thinking "Yeah, well I'm not exactly renting Resident Evil: Degeneration for the brilliant storytelling, witty banter, or dulcet tones," then odds are you'll have a pretty good time with this flick. Plus, c'mon, there's always room under the CGI tent for a sloppy, gory monster movie. At least there better be.

The plot ... well, let's just say it has a lot to do with a bunch of exotic proper nouns like "Umbrella Corporation" and "Wilpharma" and how this agent is sure that the other company is responsible for all of these damn zombies, while this sniveling politician points his finger at the "Terrasave" tree-huggers for the planet's current necro-crisis -- but all I'm wondering is WHO CARES WHOSE FAULT IT IS? Just kill the damn monsters and go get a pizza! Fans of the game will surely appreciate that several characters (Yay, Claire Redfield!) have been retained here, but they're all pretty basic and generic, so I don't see how it matters all that much. Unfortunately there's a bit more "plot" than a flick like Resident Evil: Degeneration actually needs, particularly when so dang much of it is "sob, dead brother this" and "grr, evil corporation that," but (and this is a big but, which is how I like 'em) once RE:D gets down to the nitty-gritty (and it's actually pretty darn generous with the carnage) it's quite the amusing distraction for the bemused gorehounds of the audience.

The flick features no less than four sequences in which heroic characters must escape explosions while an (audible) timer ticks down ... but it ALSO has a staggeringly wild airplane crash that you'd probably never see in a live-action film. The early section features a half-decent "escape from the demolished airport" sequence, and nearly all of Act III is stuffed with fast-paced craziness, so if we have to suffer through just a little extra chit-chat to see a few grungy, gory, and extremely well-animated moments of lunacy, well, I could think of worse ways to spend 91 minutes.

Plus it's not like the live-action movies are high art or anything.

Extras-wise, Sony opens the DVD with trailers for (get this) The Grudge 3, Boogeyman 3, Vacancy 2, and Screamers 2. (I kid, but we all know I'll see all four of those movies.) But there's actually a rather solid 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette called "The Generation of Degeneration," which is a lot harder to type than it is to read. Here several of the filmmakers share their thoughts on the project, and of course subtitles are included. (Those are important.) We also get some character profiles, voice-work bloopers, a mock interview with heroic bad-ass "Leon," some special footage from the upcoming Resident Evil 5 (the video game, not a movie), and then some extra trailers for Red Sands, Zombie Strippers, Starship Troopers 3, The Lodger, Resident Evil 2 (the movie, not the video game), The Devil's Chair, and a few other flicks that aren't even horror movies.