Resident Evil: Vendetta is an action-oriented CGI film that tries to capture the essence of the survival horror games and fails miserably.
Although the Resident Evil animated movies are miles ahead of its live-action counterparts, they have always failed to capture a mass audience because they stayed too close to the source material. The latest of those movies, called Resident Evil: Vendetta, is a sequel that continues the story from Degeneration and Damnation, so not a lot has changed in terms of structure. But this is an action-oriented CGI film that tries to capture the essence of the survival horror games and fails miserably.
Here’s a summary of the story, but take into account that I’m referring to specifics here, so ignore the following paragraph entirely if you’re scared of spoilers. Death merchant Glenn Arias is attacked by a smart bomb on his wedding day and as the sole survivor, he watches his wife and family die in front of his eyes. As a way to avenge the death of his loved ones, Aries steals a virus and creates bio-organic weapons that have the potential to infect every human on the planet. As members of the American government and the BSAA respectively, Leon and Chris team up with a professor and scientist Rebecca Chambers who developed a vaccine that can stop the imminent bio-terror attack.
The story’s nothing to write home about and I disliked how it changes from dark and tense moments to ridiculously impossible action scenes. Also, while it’s great to see familiar characters reunite for another adventure, the reasons for that reunion feel forced and contrived. The characters in this movie, with the exception of the main heroes, are expendable so it’s almost impossible to care about anyone other than Leon, Chris or Rebecca when they are eaten by zombies. Minimal characterization might not represent a problem in a 20-hour game where you’re shooting zombies and solving puzzles, but for a movie, that’s a recipe for disaster.
As it’s usually the case with Resident Evil movies made in CGI, the visuals look good enough: the lifelike characters move convincingly, their faces are expressive and the different settings are detailed. If there’s anything I can complain about is that some of the returning characters (and I’m referring to fan-favorites like Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield) have suffered a visual redesign and for whatever reason, they look weird. In fact, their makeover is distracting to the point that I was wondering if those are truly the characters I remember from the games.
So in which ways is Vendetta different to the live-action movies? The story’s all about action-packed sequences. Characters from the games represent an integral part of the story, so while the blockbuster franchise had Alive and other made up characters, Vendetta brings back Chris and Leon and creates a story around them that feels both familiar and fresh. As you can tell, fan fiction is a significant part of this movie, but not only does this movie brings back some characters from the games, but there are also references to Capcom’s classics, such as the Raccoon City incident, viruses, bio-technical weapons, organizations and so on.
So the main problem with this film is that it tries too hard to be a game. Although it’s hard to look away from the kinetic action at times, there’s minimal characterization and that’s an issue for a movie that relies so heavily on characters and events from the classic games. From beginning to end, Resident Evil: Vendetta feels like watching a video game you can’t play and while most of the great-looking action sequences would have been treated as quick-time events anyway, playing the game would have been more exciting nonetheless.