Sony // 2012 // 100 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 19th, 2012
When terror crawls, evil is unleashed.
I have a love/hate relationship with the live-action Resident Evil movies. I love to leave the living room and eat cheese and crackers when they come on, because I hate them so much. Can Capcom's big-time video game franchise find success in the world of feature-length animation?
American Special Agent Leon S. Kennedy arrives in a turbulent Eastern European country to investigate the possible use of outlawed biological weapons. It's not soon after he drops in that his backup evaporates and he's on his own, battling a horde of zombie-like creatures afflicted with the Las Plagas parasite, an organism that compels its hosts to spout all manner of disgusting fluid. As Leon digs into the mystery behind the parasite's release, he becomes embroiled in the political firestorm engulfing the country and reluctantly teams up with the rebel faction which just might be the source of all this insanity to begin with.
In my humble opinion, Resident Evil 4 is still the greatest video game ever made. So when I saw Resident Evil: Damnation featured that game's main character and utilized Las Plagas as the primary plot device, my hopes for a positive viewing experience ticked up a few notches.
In actuality, the film isn't half bad. It's too long and the dialogue is uniformly terrible, but the counterweight to this mediocrity is some exquisite animation, a solid amount of R-rated action/gore, and a handful of genuinely exciting moments.
Let's start with the bad news...
The runtime is 100 minutes and, while it may align about right with the average clock of a feature film, for an animated adventure it's 15 minutes too long. And we feel it. There's a lot of setup, with exposition-heavy exchanges taking up much of the first act. Blah. It's no secret this town is up the creek and there are evil monsters roaming about. Leon spends the first twenty minutes tied up, shouting warnings to idiots who are not long for the world. Just get on with it.
Less Talking, More Evil
The Resident Evil franchise is infamous for its cheeseball writing and the latest entries suffer from laughable dialogue. This carries over into the animated world as well. Leon's a cool dude and can kick the heads off of the undead with ease, but when he reels off one-liners, he sounds like a self-oblivious douche.
Now the good news...
Capcom's animation is fantastic. It's CG with a lot of motion-capture work, but the end result is truly cool. From the photo-realistic character expressions to the ornate gore, the talented animators behind this technical wizardry have crafted one bad-ass cartoon.
A Tank, Right in Your Stupid Face
Once Resident Evil: Damnation gets rolling and crawls out of its murky pacing, there's some nifty action set-pieces to take in, especially with the big finale, where Leon squares off with some gigantic freaks.
So there you have it, a better-than-okay horror actioner with enough mythology to appeal to fans of the series. Plus! Paul W.S. Anderson has nothing to do with this.
The DVD: standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 5.1 Surround in five different languages, two featurettes (on the Las Plagas and the making-of), a gag reel (!), and some Capcom game trailers.
Lots of bloodletting, cornball prose, and an incoherent mythology. Check it out!
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Gag Reel