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Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/27/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/30/2008
It all started in 1997. I was several years removed from having owned a video game system and had little interest in games. But, then I started hearing more and more about this "PlayStation" and decided to get one. A friend who knew that I was into horror movies lent me a game called Resident Evil and I was instantly hooked. The game was like nothing which I'd ever experienced. It had a fully fleshed-out story and great action. It was like being placed inside of a horror movie. From that moment on, I became a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise and devoured each game as soon as it appeared. (Except for Resident Evil 4. I'm apparently the only person in the world who didn't like this game and I feel that it doesn't belong in the RE canon.) Of course, I was interested when the Resident Evil movies were announced, but these films are abominations which have very little to do with the games. It's truly a shame that it would take a CG animated film, Resident Evil: Degeneration to actually tap into the Resident Evil mythos in a proper way.
Resident Evil: Degeneration opens with a recap of the events following Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. After the zombie outbreak in Raccoon City, the government used a nuclear bomb to level the city. Umbrella, the company responsible for the incident, was forced to close. In its wake, a new company, Wilpharma, has begun questionable experiments, and there are rumors that their work has lead to isolated incidents involving zombies. The company has placed its headquarters in Harvardville (someone needs to talk to the Japanese writers about good town names), and the story begins at the city's airport. Claire Redfield (voiced by Alyson Court) arrives at the airport and is greeted by her friend, Rani (voiced by Michelle Ruff). Also at the airport is Senator Ron Davis (voiced by Micheal Sorich), a controversial figure who has been accused of being in bed with Wilpharma. Suddenly, a plane hits the runway and crashes into the terminal. The door opens and zombies spill out of it. (In a scene stolen from the 1980 Italian film City of the Walking Dead AKA Nightmare City.) The airport is suddenly filled with zombies. The local authorities are called in, and they are informed that a specialist is on the way. Leon S. Kennedy (voiced by Paul Mercier) arrives on the scene, and mounts a plan to rescue Claire and the other survivors. But, this is only the beginning, as Leon and Claire trace the source of the epidemic and are soon fighting an even bigger threat.
If you've seen the trailer for Resident Evil: Degeneration, then you may have thought that it looked like the CG cutscenes which precede each Resident Evil. In reality, that's what the movie is -- It's one long CG action scene which feels as if it's going to turn into a video game.
This has its pros and cons. The best part of Resident Evil: Degeneration is that it acknowledges, resembles, and honors the Resident Evil games. The inclusion of Leon, Claire, and Umbrella are portrayed accurately, unlike in the live-action feature films. As the movie was made by Capcom, the company which makes the games, the movie feels like a lost game, which would have come between Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Resident Evil 4. We not only get zombies, but a monster which would have been at home in Resident Evil 2. The action is frequent and the movie doesn't pull any punches with portraying the zombie violence.
The main problem with Resident Evil: Degeneration is the story. The movie definitely follows a three-act structure and each act feels like an individualized story. The opening is exciting, and the finale will certainly entertain fans of classic RE games, but the middle of the movie drags. The story doesn't supply many twists and, in the end, nothing gels, and we are left with more questions than answers.
At best, Resident Evil: Degeneration is a mixed-bag. Again, I was delighted to see a feature-length movie which took place in the Resident Evil universe. The movie is a fairly good zombie/monster movie and there's plenty of gore. However, the story often takes a back seat to the action, and it's difficult to get involved with the characters or the plot. For me, the worst part is that this would actually make a great video game, and I would much rather be playing it than watching it.
Resident Evil: Degeneration proves itself to be the master of unlocking onBlu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Picture Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. I can only imagine that this transfer was taken directly from the digital source, as the picture is nearly perfect. The animation shows no stuttering or glitches, and the depth takes on a nearly 3-D look. The level of detail is very good and the colors look great. (If only the characters would blink more!) The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track provides great stereo effects which are highly detailed and show great stereo separation. The surround sound effects are quite strong and really have an impact on the action scenes. The subwoofer effects are good as well, with the explosions delivering wall-shaking sound.
The Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. There are two additional viewing modes. "Interactive Picture-in-Picture" offers various access points during the film where the viewer will be treated to either animatics, story boards, or footage of the motion capture process. "Pop-up Trivia Track" is exactly what it sounds like, as it offers tidbits about the movie's production, in-story insights, and the links to the games. "The Generation of Degeneration" (30 minutes) is a making-of featurette. The filmmakers discuss how the idea and storyline came about (including how characters from the Resident Evil universe were chosen), we get an overview of the characters, there's a lot of footage of the motion capture process -- both the actors on the set and the incorporation of the live footage into the CG images, and creature-design is examined. (This is mostly in Japanese, but for some reason, there aren't automatic subtitles here.) "Character Profiles" is an interactive piece in which we can get further info and photos on ten characters from the movie. "Voice Bloopers" (9 minutes) offers four scenes in which the dialogue has been altered for comedic effect. Unfortunately, none of this is funny. "Faux Leon Interview" (5 minutes) is an interview with the motion capture actor who plays Leon. Um...OK. The Disc contains five TRAILERS for the movie, and two segments showing footage from the Resident Evil 5 video game.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long