What have we gotten when Japanese videogame companies take the time to create feature length animations of their properties? Up to this point we have gotten some of the most amazing, extravagant, and lush CGI animations ever created usually mated to storylines that are off-center, off-kilter and usually best described as wacky. Tekken: Blood Vengeance, both of those Final Fantasy movies and the last Resident Evil animated movie come to mind. What do we get with Capcom's latest Resident Evil live action epic… 'Resident Evil: Damnation'? We get some amazing, extravagant and lush CGI animation mated to a story that is off-center, off-kilter and best described as wacky.
The super evil umbrella corporation is a little low key in this one, even though we all know they are behind everything bad that is about to happen. This time the bad stuff is about to happen in some mythical Eastern European nation engaged in a brutal civil war… that is until the rebels find a way to level the playing field with a secret weapon. Can you say Biological Organic Weapon? Leon S. Kennedy (voiced by Matthew Mercer) and his signature hair cut sure can, and at present Leon is some kind of secret agent on a mission in this country to do something I can't remember. Regardless, Leon is told to abort this mission but Leon S. Kennedy is nothing if not insubordinate and continues on, unfortunately running into one these rebel controlled, 4-legged, razor-toothed, inside out B.O.W's, and Leon would've brought it too if it the rebels didn't need some critical info from him.
Across town Svetlana Belikova (Wendee Lee), the prime minister of this country is trying to deal with these terrorist calling themselves freedom fighters when she gets a
visit from one Ada Wong (Courtenay Taylor) who I think is in this country to talk business with the Prime Minister, but is dressed wildly inappropriately for a business meeting. Gotta love videogames. And if you know Ada Wong like we know Ada Wong, you know she's up to no damn good. Thing is while this Prime Minister might look like a middle-aged cougar on the prowl, she's pretty badass in her own right. Kung fu action shall ensue.
But what exactly is going on in this movie. Hell if I know. The populace is being turned into murderous zombies by some odd Umbrella Corp giant parasite, Sasha (Dave Wittenburg), the leader of the rebels has found a way to control the extremely vicious B.O.W.'s known as lickers and these things are whipping everything to shreds, Prime Minister Svetlana has her own set of secret weapon B.OW.'s which will make the Lickers look like Benji, while Leon is running around ducking and diving and shooting and fleeing in service to something or another that I'm not quite sure of. But gosh darn does it all look good.
The basics of 'Resident Evil: Damnation' are pretty clear. Death, Action, Explosions, Destruction, and More Death. We understood all of that, and all of that was outstanding. It's the subtleties of the narrative which, not unexpectedly, were lost on me. The last animated feature 'Resident Evil: Degeneration' was similar in its presentation, and it had its own set of bizarre underlying narrative points to justify why there were zombies running around all over the place eating people, but it had so much zombie massacring mayhem that we really didn't care all that much, especially considering that movie was more in line with the style of the videogames, unlike the feature films which will be our only mention of those in this article. 'Damnation' also is reminiscent of the videogames, at least RE:5 which similarly finds our heroes in a depressed distant land fighting hellish creatures, however this one does possess a heavier story load and it's been my experience in these Videogame feature film adaptations that this usually isn't a good thing because these wacky tales seem to work way better as cut scenes as opposed to being stitched together to make feature film.
All that being said 'Resident Evil: Damnation' is still fun to sit through. The last movie, despite its overall outstanding presentation, still had some glitches in character motion and appearance but four years of technical advances have removed all of that. The images are beautiful to look at, the motion capture is damn near flawless, the monster design is stellar, and the sound design is ridiculous. It helps that I've upped my game too, watching the last movie on a lame 37 inch LCD with a DVD player, now with a 60inch 3D mated to Blu-Ray with surround sound all around, and it brings the visual excellence that is 'Resident Evil: Damnation' to complete fruition. We've all improved over the years.
It is a videogame adaptation feature film. Beautiful but wacky. And it this point I don't think we'd have it any other way.