• Resident Evil: Degeneration


    Released by: Sony
    Released on: 12/27/2008D
    irector: Makoto Kamiya
    Cast: Alyson Court, Paul Mercier, Laura Bailey, Roger Craig Smith, Crispin Freeman
    Year: 2008
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    The Movie:

    Remember when the first Resident Evil video game came out years ago and you were blown away by the awesome cut scenes and frustrated by the slow loading times and quirky character controls? Well, 2008’s animated Resident Evil: Degeneration is a return to that form in many ways. Like the original game, there are some awesome moments here but it’s hampered by some clunky moments that slow it down and take away from the experience.

    The story starts when Claire Renfield, an expert on the virus that destroyed Raccoon City years back, arrives at an airport just in time to see a zombie attack break out when protestors show up to demonstrate against a sinister corporation that’s been using human guinea pigs to try out new pharmaceutical endeavors. Soon enough she teams up with special agent Leon S. Kennedy (not to be confused with the uber cool Leon Isaac Kennedy from the Penitentiary films!) and a couple of army types named Angela Miller and Greg Glenn to figure out what’s caused this latest outbreak and how it all ties into what happened in Raccoon City years ago and what it has to do with the WilPharma Corporation and how it all ties into a strange British man Claire met briefly at the airport when she first arrived on the scene.

    Resident Evil: Degeneration starts off very strongly with a great collection of newscast clips explaining what happened prior to the events in this film and setting it up quite nicely. The zombie attack/airport scene that comes almost directly after is tense, scary and exciting and the first half hour or so of the movie really is pretty good. From there, it slows to a halt for a good thirty to forty minutes of exposition and character development that should make things more interesting but instead feel tacked on and unnecessary. Thankfully, the last twenty minutes or so find the film back in ‘horror movie’ mode as our heroes take on some of the series’ trademark mutations and eerie, Romero-esque zombies. That middle part though… it’s pretty dull and hard to overlook.

    The animation is all done entirely through CGI so it does at times feel like you’re watching one big cut scene from one of the various video games, but the opening and closing of the picture are done well and make for decent entertainment. There’s some nice detail and lighting effects in the movie even if the characters never seem completely real and the sound effects are sincerely creepy and at times pretty unnerving. The film’s biggest problem, aside from the pacing of the middle chunk, is that the lips never quite match the dubbed dialogue. While you expect this in a video game to a certain extent, in the context of a feature film it does prove distracting. Ultimately what we’re left with is a film that could have and should have been a pretty boss viewing experience – a high profile zombie/splatter/horror animated feature revolving around corporate evils and well intentioned military types has obviously got potential – but which never completely fires on all cylinders. The film gets enough right that it’s worth a look for the curious or the series’ many fans, but the uninitiated might not enjoy it so much.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Aside from some obvious aliasing throughout the movie, the anamorphic 1080p AVC encoded 1.78.1 widescreen image is pretty strong. There are no problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement to report and color reproduction looks good. Detail is as strong as you’d expect from a CGI feature and generally the transfer is fine save for the shimmering that occurs throughout the movie.
    Audio options are supplied in 24-bit English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound, and in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks with optional subtitles available in English, English SDH, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Thai, French, Spanish and Indonesian.

    This Blu-ray release makes good use of the movie’s aggressive sound mix. Directional effects come at you from all direction when the action and horror scenes kick in and the score has some nice, strong punch to it. Bass is strong and lively without overpowering things and the levels are all well balanced. The quieter moments in the film aren’t as impressive as there simply isn’t as much going on but by and large the HD audio track on this disc is very good.

    The supplemental goodies kick off with a interactive picture-in-picture feature that is exclusive to the Blu-ray release of the movie. Three different streams, that can be accessed by monkeying around with the colored buttons on your Blu-ray player’s remote control, give you access to capture footage, animatic clips and storyboard illustrations at various points throughout the movie. This is likely only going to really appeal to animation buffs but it does give you an interesting look at how the animation started in a rough stage and evolved into the finished product.

    From there, check out the half hour long The Generation Of Degeneration documentary which delves into the picture’s birth and growth from concept to finished product. We get a look at the characters, the design work, the voice work and more – anything you’d likely want to know about how the picture was made is covered here.

    The rest of the supplements aren’t quite as strong but the five minute Faux Leon Interview (the only standard definition supplement in the bunch) is amusing in the context of the movie. Nine minutes of fairly funny Voice Bloopers are also included here. Rounding out the extra features are a quartet of trailers for the feature, a pair of trailers for the upcoming Resident Evil 5 video game, a genuinely interesting pop-up trivia track (exclusive to the Blu-ray release), character profiles for all of the film’s major players, trailer for a few other Sony Blu-ray releases, some spiffy menus, and chapter selection. This disc is Blu-ray live enabled as well, so you can go online and access additional supplemental material through the movie’s website.

    The Final Word:

    The animation is slick, and the quality of Sony’s Blu-ray release is very nice – the movie itself? Meh. This one feels like it’s been geared more towards the video game crowd than a traditional horror movie audience. Resident Evil: Degeneration does have its moments and fans of the franchise will enjoy it. The movie isn’t deep, but like the action films it shares its source material with, it’s entertaining enough.