Resident Evil: Degeneration Review
Written by: Psyko113
It's no surprise to anyone whom has spoken with me long enough, that when it comes to combining the worlds of horror and video-games, one of the most important franchises to me is that of Resident Evil (tied only by Silent Hill, of course). That being said, do know that I'm approaching this review slightly more from the perspective of a fan of the series, and not so much as a filmmaker (though those elements are there, so don't worry that I'm being totally biased).
Before anyone dismisses this film, keep in mind that "Resident Evil: Degeneration" is an extension of the games, and that implies a certain type of quality to be expected. Meaning, it's not going to be the greatest thing you've ever seen. It has to have a certain sense of B-Movie to it, of action flick, or...cheese...
And it delivers, but in a wonderful way that makes the film fun to watch. Take into consideration the biggest flaw of the masterpiece that is Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. The story was far too convoluted, with hardly enough common sense in and of itself to stop before it becomes annoying, and with the action spread far between and too fast for one to really enjoy it.
RE: Degeneration does the opposite of this. There is plenty of action, and the story is relatively easy to follow (even easier than the majority of the games in the series, as a matter of fact). However, while the story doesn't quite bridge the fourth and fifth installments in the game series. It was stated before by the director of the film that such was not the intention of the film, but it would have been nice.
Obviously, the game revolves around another outbreak of the T-Virus (of noted fame from the earlier games in the series). However, the airport setting that everyone is well aware of is only the beginning, the "tutorial stage" of the film. The scope of the story is much broader than the confines of a single setting.
Once again reunited for the first time in seeming several years (when the Raccoon City Incident occured) are Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, voiced by Alyson Court and Paul Mercier, respectively. While Leon was originally voiced by Paul Haddad, Mercier is best known as his voice do to his work in Resident Evil 4. Court, obvioulsy, has voiced Claire in each game she's appeared (yeah; all TWO), as well as the character of Yoko from the RE: Outbreak spin-offs.
The dialogue is very cheesy, fitting with the game-world. The voice acting is good, and does the characters justice. There are some instances (more than a few) that I can safely say I wish Leon's expressions were a little more animated than they were, or that there was a little more feeling between his character and Claire, but I'll take what I can get. Some of the other characters, however, had much of their dialogue lost in translation, either talking too long and yapping away or saying something too short that it makes them sound like a numb-nut.
However, again to RE: Degeneration's praise, the animators this time have taken some time in synching the lip animation to the English dialogue for the most part, rather than leave it all like FFVII: Advent Children did, making the dialogue look like a phoenetic mess.
Also, as far as animation quality is concerned...many of the supporting characters, and especially those of the background characters, seemed rather half assed. They're passable out of focus or in the distance, but when you have actual interaction with them, it's rather sad that the quality doesn't stand up. There also seem to be some issues with the character textures, especially in dim or darkly lit scenes. They tend to have a certain amount of shine to them, as if they're all sweaty. This becomes less apparent as the film goes on, and for whatever reason is a problem unseen during scenes set outdoors, but it's still there.
The environments and lighting are very well done, however. Some of the better work we've seen in the past few years, actually.
The direction and music of the film are fitting. I had my doubts, at first, that a man known for directing kaiju films could pull off something like RE, but Makoto Kamiya did a wonderful job, especially with the fast-paced action sequences. Crispin Freeman (who made an appearance at the premiere earlier tonight) voices a man of some importance for the story, Frederic Downing, though his voice doesn't quite fit...not considering the amazing work he's done before...but he still shines brightly nonetheless.
In the end, if you're a fan of the games, you'll appreciate all the effort and little side-jokes put into Resident Evil: Degeneration. If you're a fan of the films, you need to have your head examined. If you're a fan of the franchise, like myself, then again do not look for greatness. Just look for something you can enjoy.
Come December 30th, when the film hits store shelves on DVD/Blue-Ray, all will be able to see what the film has to offer, as well as a slew of bonus features. (of which, the "gag reel" from the VO sessions I'm looking forward to the most!)