After an exposition-filled prologue in which our heroine, Alice (Milla Jovovich, Dirty Girl), faces the audience to relay the events of the first four flicks, Retribution goes straight into a shameless rip-off of the much-lauded beginning of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. This is far from the film’s only act of cribbing; look for direct scene swipes from everything from 1974’s The Street Fighter to 1979’s Zombie.
Ultimately, the movie Retribution robs from most is itself, by playing variations of the same scene over and over, taking place in computer-controlled simulations of New York City, Moscow and “Surburbia.” Only the creatures change in each as Alice and friends shoot guns in slow motion and flip like Olympic gymnasts.
The movie assumes viewers know too much — as in everything — about the Resident Evil world. I’ve seen each movie and am at a loss to explain who everyone is, what the stakes are, how much of the danger they face is real or perceived, why characters are allies one scene and enemies the next, vice versa, and basically just what the hell is going on. I’m not certain there is even is a story, because no genuine resolution exists; after about an hour and a half, Anderson just has his cast stop moving for a few seconds, with a clear lead-in to Resident Evil: Confusion — or whatever he chooses to title the sure-to-follow sixth one.
At least it looks great, and not all due to the return of Sienna Guillory’s pushed-up cleavage. Nearly every frame as been art-directed to the hilt in order to exploit the 3-D technology. On the other hand, watching it flat at home, its phoniness is wildly apparent, as if characters had been X-Acto knived out of one environment and rubber-cemented onto another, yet the edges curl slightly.
All in all, I felt like I was watching its game vs. its adaptation, except games don’t sport now-uncomfortable jokes about the NRA and gun control. Product placement abounds, brought to you by Game Stop and Rockstar Energy Drink. The Blu-ray includes commercials for said games, plus two commentaries, countless featurettes and a spirited gag reel. —Rod Lott