Resident Evil: Degeneration might be plagued with minor annoyances, but the most prominent one is the fact that Capcom has managed to make one of their games into a movie.
Despite the negative reviews, the live-action series of Resident Evil films has become the most successful movie franchise to be based on video games. As a way of extending that success, in 2008 Capcom decided to focus on a new series of CGI movies tied to the original Resident Evil games. The result was Degeneration, Capcom’s first full-length feature film which takes place between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 and follows the stories of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield.
Despite being set between some of the newest titles, the film’s plot is intrinsically tied to events from some of the classic games, mainly Resident Evil 2. Degeneration takes place a few years after the military dropped a nuclear missile in Raccoon City to stop the spread of the highly contagious T-virus. Thankfully for fans of the series, Degeneration features a new setting.
The introductory scene shows Claire Redfield as she arrives to the local airport in Hardvardville, India. One of the first things she notices is a protest being staged in the area. Apparently, a new pharmaceutical company called WilPharma Corporation (and the award for best originally named evil corporation goes to…) is working on some secret experiments and the protesters believe that these may lead to a disaster similar to the one in Raccoon City. Ten minutes after that, Claire Redfield finds herself in the middle of a zombie outbreak. A passenger aircraft teeming with undead creatures crashes into the airport, spreading the T-virus and wreaking havoc in the terminal. In fact, the infection spreads so quickly that the whole area is put under quarantine, leaving Claire, a little child under her supervision, a young stewardess and a senator, trapped in the terminal.
In order to avoid an even bigger disaster, the authorities summon someone who’s a specialist in this sort of situation, a man called Leon Scott Kennedy. Leon and two SRT (Special Response Team) agents make their way into the airport, hoping to find the survivors and exterminate as many zombies as they can.
Soon enough, the story takes a weird course, becoming overly convoluted. Apparently, the zombie outbreak has been part of a planned terrorist attack and its members demand the truth about Raccoon City’s incident. Then we realize that Angela Miller’s brother (Angela is one of the SRT members and Leon’s love interest) is behind the attacks because he has lost his family in Raccoon City. References to the T-virus, G-virus and the potential development of a vaccine are mentioned countless times and all of this leads to the realization that WilPharma megacorporation is in fact evil.
But the fact that the film’s plot is excessively complex isn’t really surprising. The fact that the film was directed as if it was a video game is. During the movie’s first moments, it quickly becomes pretty obvious that the people involved wanted to recreate Resident Evil 2’s formula to repeat the success of that game. Of course, this sort of blatant use of fan fiction is nothing new, but its shameless execution is taken to an extreme. The story, pace, character development (or the lack thereof) and the presence of a boss fight almost at the end of the movie are all very reminiscent of the games. The myriad nods and winks to events from previous games are extremely alienating to those unfamiliar with the source material.
Sadly, that isn’t the only problem with Degeneration. Most of the characters are extremely annoying and are based on various stereotypes. We have the egotistical senator who only cares about himself, the weak child who’s constantly putting the heroine in danger, the dim-witted special agent who’s bitten by a zombie for being excessively arrogant and so on and so forth. Additionally, the secondary characters aren’t memorable at all, the ridiculously over-the-top action scenes quickly become repetitive, the plot is intensely uninspired and the dialogues are obtuse.
Resident Evil: Degeneration is plagued with minor annoyances. Undoubtedly, the most prominent one is the fact that Capcom has managed to make one of their games into a movie. As a result, this creates an almost unbearably suffocating atmosphere that puts a barrier on your enjoyment. In the end, those looking for a compelling CGI film based on Resident Evil should look elsewhere.