With the release of Resident Evil Damnation we can now confirm that thereís 2 Resident Evil film franchises on the go; the live action Milla Jovovich ones, and these CG efforts. While the live action films often get criticised for not staying true to the source, Resident Evil Degeneration
, and this new film Damnation, do a much better job of capturing the feel of the games.
Thatís not to say they nail it, granted Iím not the worlds foremost knowledge of Resident Evil, but I was under the impression that once someone turned in to a zombie, or a Las Plagas zombie, that was kind of it, Damnation shows that they can be back and chatting away a minute later. Iím not even sure if one of the key plot points is possible in the Resident Evil fiction, controlling Lickers by injecting yourself with the Plagas parasite.
To the plot then, a former Soviet country is suffering a power struggle, with a former military leader claiming power and exerting influence on other political leaders. The people fight back, with rebel factions and government forces becoming embroiled in a civil war, and itís not long until BOWs start being used. Which is why Leon is called in, although thanks to the political sensitivity of the region heís on his own, with neither the U.S. nor Russia wanting to get involved.
To be honest most of that you can just forget, all you need to know is that the rebels are fighting the government and thereís zombies. Leon makes a friend, which gives him a reason to care about whatís going on, but really thereís no reason for him to help the rebels, especially as all the evidence suggests that theyíre the only ones using BOWs (although that does change).
It took me a while to place what Resident Evil Damnation reminded me of, itís very Japanese in its structure. It focuses on relationships, quickly formed, but strong enough that it gives the hero a motivation for the back half of the film. Damnation is every Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and Pokemon spin-off film you will ever see. One thing it also shares with Pokemon (Pokemon Black I think it is) is the moral ambiguity of the factions, itís commendable that the rebels arenít wholly good, in fact whatever their motivations their actions are indefensible.
Beyond that though itís hard to praise the plot too much, it doesnít feel particularly important, possibly because the main character isnít really a part of it. Even the characters feel incidental, you donít care when people die, you arenít really routing for anyone other than Leon and you know heís going to be fine. The script is particularly clunky, probably due to a too literal translation from Japanese (anyone whoís watched a significant amount of anime will know what I mean).
If Damnation is going to be worth a watch then it has to come from what youíre seeing, and the film certainly looks great. Itís not jaw-dropping or anything, but in comparison to Degeneration itís a huge improvement, and the characters are well animated. Where itís let down though is that the action isnít really showy enough. It starts well, the underground car-park scene is relatively tense and adds some mystery, but itís not until Leon is sprinting down an opulent hall in the back half of the film that I can offer that praise again. Iím not entirely sure what the problem is other than to say that thereís a lack of punch and peril.
Iím not sure where Iíd place Damnation amongst the gaming films Iíve reviewed, itís certainly not a bad film but at no point does it really do anything of note. When the biggest crime a film commits is cringe-worthy puns and shoehorned characters you canít really damn it too harshly. And with that being said Iíd recommend Resident Evil Damnation to RE fans, itís less annoying than the first animated film, and closer to the games than any of the live action films, but itís not something you need to rush to watch.