Resident Evil doesn’t exactly have a reputation for great big-screen adaptations. The live-action versions were blockbusters of a kind, but few people I’ve spoken to have ever said they thought they were any good – a consensus reflected by critics’ reviews. On the other hand, people have said good things about this CG animation from Japan.
I’m, I suppose, a lapsed fan of Resident Evil games. I got the first one for the Playstation, and even got the US version from an import store because the UK one was censored. I played it until I’d seen every nook and cranny, and then did almost the same for the second game, though the difficulty towards the end annoyed me. But since then I’ve not really had much interest in the series, nor more than a passing awareness of events.
But that’s about all that anyone needs to understand Degeneration, which unlike the live-action films is a continuation of the games. Claire Redfield just happens to be in a particular airport where there is a new T-virus outbreak, and finds herself with two important people to protect – a sweet little girl she had been meeting and a pompous senator. A special agent is dispatched to rescue them – the perfectly-coiffured and laconic Leon Kennedy. They escape, but not before uncovering a conspiracy within a pharmaceutical company, where the deadly viruses of the games may well be kept.
The film’s visuals are disappointing. This film came out in 2008, and I expected the CG to be of the standard of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within at least. But it looked like the old PS1 intro to the second game. The animation was clunky and the models looked plasticky. The lip-synch was no good at all: it was so bad in English that I got hold of the Japanese version, only to find that even worse! In addition, there really is no point to this film being animated: a lot of work went in to something unnecessary, for other than one sweeping shot of the interior of the building and I suppose how well certain big boss monsters fit into the overall look of the piece, there was nothing that could not have been achieved by live-action filming, which would have looked far better anyway.
The film is, I think, a statement: this is the kind of script that the live-action films should have had, rather than the made-up nonsense we got. That’s both valid and quite true, but unfortunately isn’t enough to make a good film.