A Movie that is a Game, A Game that is a Movie

For our seventh movie review we decided to go and see the latest installment of the Resident Evil series – Resident Evil: Retribution. I’ll begin by saying that prior to this decision I had never watched any of the movies or seen any of the video games. To prepare we used our most recent beer and a movie to watch the first Resident Evil movie and much to my relief I discovered it was about zombies (mostly). Zombies I can relate to. I’m not going to digress here with a review of the first movie, there are plenty of those out there if you want to read about it, but many of the things I will complain…er..comment about will probably apply to both movies.

My two big observations about the movie have to do with the concept of a video game as a movie and with the name. First, the name. What the heck does Resident Evil mean? Is there evil resident in all of us? Do we reside with evil all around us (aka the zombies trying to kill us?) There are theories out on the intertubes that they called the first game/movie  Resident Evil because it took place in a mansion, which is very weak connection in my mind. The name of the game in Japan is Biohazard, which makes WAY more sense, but according to the lore around the game that name would have been too hard to copyright. And the subtitle for this installment (number five I believe) makes about as much sense. Wikitionary.com defines retribution as

Retribution: Punishment inflicted in the spirit of moral outrage or personal vengeance.

Which sounds pretty badass, but it seems to imply some sort of moral imperative to inflict punishment aside from just killing zombies to stay alive. Without giving too much away, Alice (the woman you see in the picture to the left who has gone through the looking-glass into the world of Resident Evil) wakes up in the hands of the Umbrella corporation so it isn’t as if she decided to hunt them down and punish them once and for all. I am picturing a meeting where producers sat around throwing out cool sounding edgy words until they stumbled on Retribution and knew they had a hit. Which to be fair it was a hit. It was the #1 movie for its opening weekend in the US .

Next the video game as movie. With some exceptions the scenes of this movie could all be clips from the video game as you enter the next stage of the game. I’ve never played the game so I don’t know this for a fact, but that is the feel they have. Even to the point of one part of the movie being a guide for the rest of the game. In order to escape the Umbrella corporation Alice and friends have to navigate a zombie “testing lab” that has different zones, A New York zone, A Tokyo zone, A Russian zone, etc. Each with a slightly different and progressively harder types of zombies to kill. Early in the movie they access the computer and bring up a map showing how to progress through the game to win or rather how to escape the underwater testing facility and reach the end of the movie. If you haven’t ever watched one of these movies, the Umbrella corporation is the evil global conglomerate that created and accidentally released the zombie making virus. So naturally they would need a facility to test an outbreak of a virus they never intended to release.

It’s clear I have some problems with this movie franchise and Retribution was no different, but it is all about expectations right? David and I went to the movie and I knew what I was getting into. I put myself in the mood to enjoy some zombie schlock and that it what happened. There was a lot of cool fight scenes, they blew a lot of stuff up and killed a lot of zombies. Not everyone makes it out alive, but you know that Ripley Alice will make it to the next movie and she might even save a small child along the way. Truth be told I have seen much worse movies and as a two-hour commercial for the video game it kind of works. I mean I left the theater thinking it might be fun to play Resident Evil, which I am guessing is more than the movie Battleship can say.

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One response to “A Movie that is a Game, A Game that is a Movie”

  1. Janet Koplos says :

    Ummm, sounds like something I’ll enjoy skipping!

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