Resident Evil: Damnation (Japan 2012)

Rating: **
Review Date: 9/29/12

My god, who writes this shit? Completely inexcusable.

"Resident Evil: Damnation" is a CGI movie that takes place in the RE universe between the events in "Resident Evil: Degeneration" (2008) and "Resident Evil 6" (2012). Leon Kennedy returns as the main character, undertaking a mission in a fictional Eastern European country that is suspected of using B.O.W.s (bio-organic weapons) in a civil conflict. As soon as he arrives, the US immediately orders him to pull out, but he disobeys and stubbornly continues his investigation. Pulling in continuity from "Resident Evil 4", las plagas has made its way to the capital city, which is overrun with Ganados and Lickers. Leon gets captured by a group of freedom fighters who want to overthrow the corrupt government, but the biohazard threat is too much for them to deal with. Long-time rival Ada Wong also gets herself into the mess, with her own mysterious agenda.

First and foremost, the movie is absolutely GORGEOUS and features some of the best computer generated animation I've ever seen. Fabulous work. The motion capture looks great, although it's overly stylized to create an exaggerated anime aesthetic. The character design is excellent, and hair, fabric, and facial details are top notch. Unlike "Degeneration", the film doesn't shy away from blood and is exceptionally gory and graphic. The lighting is superb and the horror elements are handled well, although too much emphasis is placed on herky-jerky POV camera work. The hyper-kinetic action scenes are fantastic, with the highlight being a shocking hand-to-hand showdown between Ada and President Berikova. I certainly didn't see that one coming, and it was utterly delightful. The towering Super Tyrants are awesome and make a great impression. A visually stunning effort in all regards.

But the dialog. The insufferable dialog... Dear god, make it stop!

Do yourself a favor and turn the sound off, or change the audio to another language because listening to these characters talk is painful. And the lip-syncing is so awful that switching to a different audio track wouldn't look any worse. In fact, it might even be less distracting. And once again, this film inexplicably doesn't have a Japanese audio track. Do the Japanese really hate "Resident Evil" that much, or was this solely Sony's marketing department performing their arcane magic? And while the writing is truly awful, the characters aren't much better. It pains me to say it, but Leon is actually the most reasonable and likable of the bunch. Ada Wong looks like a man and comes across with a forced and faked sensuality that makes you cringe and want to look away. By far the worst offender is JD, who is an idiotic rebel gangster and comedic foil. Ugh. Why does every "Resident Evil" game have to have an annoying character like this? It shatters the suspension of disbelief and completely ruins the experience. An interview with the director confirms the film's ultimate failure and seals its fate when he says "it's a really dark movie, so I wanted to add a funny character." That's the absolute WORST reason to introduce humor into a serious movie, as it invalidates the entire foundation of the story you're trying to tell. It's heartbreaking to see such a technically advanced movie that looks so incredibly good being ruined by stupid characters doing stupid things and uttering intolerably stupid dialog. As a Japanese movie, I wonder if this is how the Japanese actually perceive Americans?