Editor’s note: This review first was published April 11, 2013.
‘Damnation’ a stellar addition to ‘Resident Evil’ anthology
Damn. Like, damn. This is how Resident Evil movies should be done. (Though that’s no insult to Milla Jovovich.)
“Resident Evil: Damnation,” the second full-length, CGI RE film (read the review for the first one, “Resident Evil: Degeneration,” here) to enter the canon, exceeds expectations. And it’s about damn time.
“Damnation” stars RE4 and “Degeneration” hero Leon Kennedy (voiced by Matthew Mercer) and has the same basic feel as its predecessor. However, this version, both a movie in its own right and a blended marketing tool for the co-released “Resident Evil 6” video game, surpasses “Degeneration” on every level. Not only does it manifest the missing atmosphere and brings us a hero worth celebrating, it’s just a non-stop ride of action and zombies and B.O.W.s and espionage and everything that makes Resident Evil great.
“Damnation” has us following Special Agent Kennedy again as he traverses Eastern Europe on a mission to assess the Bio-Organic Weapons situation there. It seems a small country going through a civil war has introduced the Plaga (reference RE4) into the mayhem. The best character re-introduction, though, goes to Ms. Ada Wong (voiced by Courtenay Taylor), hands down. Bringing her trademark style and professional spy/assassin/all-around-badass demeanor to the field, she’s quickly thrown into the fray, though you’re not quite sure why. (Fans know Ada has a tendency to look out for No. 1, regardless of who’s paying her.)
However, that may not be the only RE-specific reference newcomers to the series don’t get. As with “Degeneration,” and most of the later games as a whole, “Damnation” assumes a base level of Resident Evil is already known by the viewer. That’s probably not true for the general public, especially relating to Leon’s and Ada’s relationship and the introduction of the Plaga to the films. It’s a movie meant for fans of the game, and it shows.
With some stellar action sequences and a few unexpected scares, “Damnation” goes a long way in showing how these types of CG-animated films can be done. However, as is the norm with RE, the plot does get a bit heavy midway through, adding several layers and convoluting an already-over-saturated plot. While the attention to detail and character development is commendable, there’s no need for a 100-minute run time. But at least it does make up for it in part through its game-worthy graphics (check out the ending credits for a side-by-side comparison). You might even feel as though you’re watching an extended cutscene. For those who enjoy the story more than the zombie slaying, it’s a plus. Otherwise, it can leave you wanting or feeling a bit disconnected.
And it doesn’t help that the focus largely rests on the monsters of the series. There aren’t a lot of zombies in the traditional sense; instead, we get parasites and biological creations and whatnot. Again, it’s meant for the gamers, not the moviegoers.
But what this movie does do is give us a reason to watch Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Wong kick some serious ass while immersing us in the intrigue and mysteries to which we’ve become accustomed. And lots of carnage. All in stunning high-definition. Talk about time well spent.
Four “Ada Wong-approved” stars out of five, and a critic’s pick.