Resident Evil: Damnation brings the game excitement to a feature film
If you’re a Resident Evil fan and have grown increasingly more frustrated with the live-action films that may as well be subtitled ‘Milla Jovovich Rockz!!!’ some welcome relief has come with Resident Evil: Damnation.
The animated entry is easily the best cinematic installment of the series and despite being a computer generated film, features better acting and a more faithful spin on one of the most successful video games franchises ever.
Leon (Matthew Mercer, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore) is dispatched to an Eastern European country to determine if Bio Organic Weapons, or B.O.W.s are being used in a civil war. He finds himself in the middle of a warzone where he soon encounters some familiar foes, including the Lickers and citizens infected with the Las Plagas virus, and potential allies in freedom fighters JD (Val Tasso) and Buddy (Dave Wittenberg).
JD is an instantly likable character as he’s fascinated with American culture while the more intense Buddy simply seeks revenge for the injustice against his countrymen. And lurking in the shadows is Leon’s old acquaintance Ada Wong (Courtenay Taylor) who is seeking a device that could tip the scales in the B.O.W. arms race.
Director Makoto Kamiya and screenwriter Shotaro Suga, who previously teamed on the first RE animated effort —Resident Evil Degeneration — understand what makes the game series so popular and successfully convey that in a feature film.
Like he did in basing Degeneration around Resident Evil 2’s intersecting subplot format, Suga channels inspiration from a game entry — this time going with the series’ high mark Resident Evil 4 —to create a vastly superior outing that will likely give viewers flashbacks of their nightmare-inducing/controller tossing time playing through the game. This may be the first animated film to have you jumping and screaming/shouting at your TV.
Damnation is packed with action scenes and Kamiya brings you right into it thanks to some well-thought out fight choreography that allows the viewer to see everything and almost feel the punches, kicks and even decapitations. It is Resident Evil after all. And Kamiya builds the fights up properly so the final fight is the film’s best.
My biggest gripe is a minor one compared to some of the liberties taken in the live-action films, but the character model for Ada Wong doesn’t fully capture the sexpot femme fatale properly.
The Jovovich RE films have their issues, but one thing they got right was casting Bingbing Li in the role of Ada Wong in Resident Evil: Retribution as she completely looks the part.
Damnation’s Wong design is decent enough, but considering she’s the one character in the mythos that’s always been portrayed with some sex appeal — even dating back to her 1998 video game debut in Resident Evil 2 — it was surprising she looks so homely in the film.
Degeneration characters had a slightly unnatural, dead-eye look to them and closely resembled the video game CGI cut screens, but they look much more realistic in Damnation. I couldn’t find what Capcom Company or Sony Pictures spent on the budget for either film, but Damnation definitely looks like a few more bucks were tossed its way.
If you’re a fan of the series, Damnation is finally the Resident Evil experience you’ve been waiting on. And best of all? No mention of Jovovich’s Super-Alice at all.
Rating: 8 out of 10