Editor’s note: This review first was published April 9, 2013.
‘Resident Evil: Degeneration’ sinks its teeth into original canon
The first Resident Evil movie to fully integrate back into the original canon, “Resident Evil: Degeneration,” a full-length, CG-animated film, has the distinct pleasure of not being part of the the live-action version series. You can offer it no higher praise. However, its own merits may leave you feeling a little bit, well… dead.
Jumping right back into the virus-laden world of zombies and bad guys, “RE: Degeneration” starts off with a bang (or plane crash, whatever). We’re quickly introduced to the backstory of the original RE games: Raccoon City has been razed by nukes after being overrun by humans infected with the zombie-creating T-virus. Claire Redfield (voiced by Alyson Court), now working for TerraSave (an ant-bad guy group with little genuine backstory), has just arrived at Harvardville Airport, where chaos (of course) soon breaks loose. It seems a member of a company actually trying to create a vaccine for the T-virus has been infected. Go figure. Because of said infection, the plane he’s on crashes into the airport, beginning Act I of this two-act movie.
As Claire works her way though the now-infested airport terminal, she quickly runs into Leon S. Kennedy (voiced by Paul Mercier), her zombie-fighting partner in RE2. Together, they fight their way out of the hoard, guns and knives aplenty, only to meet up with the Act II’s twists. And this is where the RE spirit shines through.
Resident Evil’s mythology is known for being in-depth, dark in nature and multifaceted, if at times convoluted and confusing. Story lines have the tendency to converge and split in seemingly arbitrary ways, but, as a whole, they tend to come together. The problem with “Degeneration,” however, is that it takes that same methodology and applies to a 90-minute movie (which somehow comes across as much longer). Here’s a quick breakdown: We have zombies, suspicious individuals, a plethora of insidious companies, bio-terrorist attacks (and the correlating bio-terrorists), both the T- and the G-virus, a douchebag politician, and a conspiracy to boot. (Though that last one is really only hinted at, further explain in a later game installment.) As you can see, it can get a bit complicated.
And that’s a good and a bad thing. Any fan of the video game series isn’t going to be satisfied without having sixteen different possible endings. However, to anyone who isn’t a fan or is seeing “Degeneration” as the first step into the franchise, he’s going to be a bit lost. The film assumes too much background already is known by the viewer while bombarding you with so many plot arcs you’ll view like you’re under a zombie-colored rainbow of death and conspiracy.
But even if it’s a bit overwhelming, it is very pretty to watch zombies being blown up. It runs a dark palette, which can be jarred suddenly when the characters finally see light. The whole movie comes across as a giant cutscene from RE4. Take that for what you will.
The characters could have used a bit of work, too. Their voice-acting is pretty terrible, which was disappointing. And the character animations, despite some highlights, were silted at times.
Long story short, RE fans will be happy. Even some non-fans will be satisfied. Most others will find it forgettable. And even a few will be disappointed. Such is the story of Resident Evil.
Three infected stars out of five.