by Mel Valentin
Almost everything about "Resident Evil: Degeneration" (a.k.a. "Baiohazâdo: Dijenerêshon"), videogame producer CAPCOM’s entry into the direct-to-DVD market, is sub-par, from the cut-scene quality animation, to the sleep-inducing storyline, to the clichéd dialogue, and to the one-dimensional, undermotivated characters. Ostensibly made for the fans of the "Resident Evil" videogames, "Resident Evil: Degeneration" includes two characters from the "Resident Evil" series, Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, the usual T-virus infected zombies, and one or two super-mutated monsters created by a generically evil corporation (formerly the Umbrella Corp., now WilPharma Corp.), an occasional first-person shooter simulation to remind viewers to buy and/or play one of the "Resident Evil" games and enough action scenes featuring dead-eyed, clumsily animated characters to make anyone swear off motion-capture CG films for the foreseeable future.Resident Evil: Degeneration opens seven years after the “Raccoon City Incident,” the escape of the T-virus from the Umbrella Corp.’s research facility and infection of the surrounding populace. Redfield (voiced by Alyson Court), a survivor of the Raccoon City Incident (and previous RE games), now works for Terrasave, a non-governmental organization that steps in after chemical and biological attacks to conduct search and rescue missions. At the Harvardville airport to meet a friend, Rani (Michelle Ruff), Redfield runs into Ron Davis (Michael Sorich), a U.S. senator, WilPharma Corp. advisor, and frequent target of anti-corporation activists. Before Redfield can give Davis’ presence a second thought, a passenger plane crashes into the airport. Moments later, dozens of infected passengers emerge from the downed passenger plane, killing anyone in their path.
"Should have been direct-to-DVD...wait, it is."
The government locks down the airport and sends one of their most experienced field agents, Leon S. Kennedy (Paul Mercier), along with two members of the Special Response Team (SRT), Angela Miller (Laura Bailey) and Greg Glenn (Steve Blum), to rescue Senator Davis and any other survivors. With Redfield rallying survivors inside the airport and Kennedy and the SRT outside working their way in, the infectees don’t stand much of a chance. That’s not where Resident Evil: Degeneration ends, however. Once Redfield, Kennedy, Davis, and Miller escape, the story shifts focus, first on Angel’s activist brother, Curtis (Roger Craig Smith) and then on Frederic Downing (Crispin Freeman), a research scientist with the WilPharma Corp., and a potential conspiracy to re-release the T-virus or an even more deadly variation, the G-virus.
With that particular set-up, it’s a given that the characters will cross paths. Shotaro Suga’s screenplay gives little background to the characters and their motivations, beyond the usual (e.g., greed, revenge), before devolving into a series of increasingly unengaging firefights and hand-to-hand combat between the heroes and the “boss” monster (both non-human and human). There’s little (actually, there’s nothing) in Suga’s pedantic, by-the-numbers script we haven’t seen before. The story and characters are just an obstacle that has to be cleared so the director, Makoto Kamiya, can fire up his computer workstations and through a few action scenes into the mix (because really, that’s all there is to Resident Evil: Degeneration).
Unfortunately, the motion capture-dependent computer animation looks four or five years out-of-date (a DTV budget will do that to you). The characters move in the herky-jerky rhythms that made The Polar Express an unnerving experience for moviegoers, young, old, and middle-aged alike. Kamiya and his animators do nothing to make the characters more expressive or the eyes more lifelike. They’re stuck in what researchers long ago called the “uncanny valley.” Almost as badly, the set pieces are directed and animated with minimal originality, up to and including the climactic “boss” battle that closes out Resident Evil: Degeneration’s 97-minute running time. Kamiya throws in a few camera swirls, pans and flyovers, but a handful of camera moves can’t hide the lack of imagination or resources.All that aside, is there a reason, any reason whatsoever to see "Resident Evil: Degeneration?" For non-gamers or non-fans of the "Resident Evil" franchise (excluding, of course, the abysmally awful theatrical films starring She-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named), the answer is clearly no. For videogame fans, especially if you’re a fan of "Resident Evil" universe, even as a spectator, then the answer is maybe. Even with that qualifier, though, be prepared for, at best, a forgettable experience and, at worst, a waste of time better spent on other, more productive activities, like killing zombies or other non-human foes in the latest "Resident Evil" entry or similarly themed titles like the recent "Left 4 Dead."
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originally posted: 12/27/08 12:00:00