Resident Evil: Degeneration
The leap from video game to the big screen is nothing new. Franchises like "Mortal Kombat," "Street Fighter," "Silent Hill" and "Tomb Raider" have all spawned Hollywood progeny with mixed results. "Resident Evil," however, has produced a successful trilogy of live action films. Propped somewhere between the hype of those Milla Jovovich vehicles and the release of the latest game lies the overambitious CGI feature, Resident Evil: Degeneration.
Fully rendered computer animated films can be a tricky proposition. Often, the mimicry of human expressions and movements can go slightly askew, leaving viewers more creeped-out than enthralled, unable to get past the awkward visage of the animated characters. While the body movements in "Degeneration" are accurate thanks to the use of motion capture technology, the lip-synch always feels a bit off and makes for an instant disconnect despite the otherwise beautifully detailed and rendered 3D world.
Between this technical gap and occasionally overly lengthy exposition, the dialogue scenes in "Degeneration" can often get tiresome or feel overly canned. These are the moment where you would hit the skip button in a video game to cut back to the action, and thankfully, you can skip ahead in this film in a similar way without missing much.
When the action hits, it's usually pretty rewarding, and this is where the computer animated world pays off. Massive sets are spectacularly torn apart. A jumbo jet comes crashing through an airport only to spill out zombified passengers through the twisted metal and flames. Lab sets are technologically elaborate and some of the scenes of the final climax could not likely be reproduced in a conventional film. The creature designs are notable and rendered with loving attention.
Some of the references to previous chapters of the video game's narrative may be lost on more casual gamers or horror fans, but the basic story is easy enough to follow without these out of film fan nods. Still, "Degeneration" is likely only to be a hit with video game fans or computer animation enthusiasts. General horror fans will not likely have their patience rewarded as skipping through much of the dialogue results in a very condensed amount of action compared to the film's overall run time of 90 minutes.
"The Generation of DEGENERATION" is the main feature in the extras, which offers a somewhat lengthy behind the scenes view of the film’s production, which would have been better served by breaking it up in to smaller more specific segments. This feature is almost entirely in Japanese as well, with huge garish yellow subtitles following the dialogue. While the staff is clearly passionate about the project, there’s little variety in their voices to reflect it, and the monotone gets a bit tedious to listen to.
What’s listed as "Voice Bloopers" would be more accurately described as a gag reel, which has a few scenes from the movie recut with humorous dialogue dubbed over the original footage. These are a little hit and miss, but fans of the game should be entertained.
The Character Profiles are wholly disposable, but in line with the video game subject matter. The idea of reading text on the screen when watching a DVD is never appealing and these text only profiles seem like padding more than bonus content.
As DEGENERATION is described as a "4.5" before Resident Evil 5’s actual release, it stands to reason that this DVD also includes two trailers for the new game, which also look very impressive and fast paced.
This DVD should receive two grades: a B+ for fans of the video game franchise, as it would be a fun placeholder before the next game’s release, and a C+ for more casual genre fans as it has its fun moments, and provides impressive visuals, but is overall forgettable on its own.