‘Resident Evil: Retribution’: The Reviews Are In!

Critics are (predictably) less than thrilled with zombie apocalypse franchise's fifth installment.

“Resident Evil: Retribution,” the fifth film in the franchise, hit theaters Friday (September 14). Can you believe that the zombie apocalypse is still going strong and the evil Umbrella Corporation is up to its old, bad tricks? If you’re a fan of the video games and/or the movies, the answer is: Of course!

“Retribution” once again centers on badass zombie assassin Alice (Milla Jovovich), but this time around, director Paul W.S. Anderson has played with the mythology a bit in order to incorporate a bunch of familiar faces from previous installments. The premise ultimately reveals more about the Umbrella Corporation and its experimentation with the T-virus.

The “Resident Evil” films have never been critical darlings, as indicated by the latest “Rotten” rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, but they are intended to be crowd-pleasers for the die-hard fans.

So ready your zombie apocalypse survival skills as we sift through the “Resident Evil: Retribution” reviews!

The Story
“For those keeping track, this installment ends precisely where the previous one ended, with a titanic battle sequence aboard a ship where Alice is fighting the multitudinous forces of the evil Umbrella Corporation which is intent on transforming the earth’s population into flesh-eating zombies. The action then inexplicably shifts to a placid suburban neighborhood, where Alice is now a blonde housewife who wakes up to a loving husband (Oded Fehr) and an adorable hearing-impaired young daughter (Aryana Engineer). But it isn’t long before reality rushes back, in the form of legions of undead who swarm their home. It all naturally turns out to be a dream sequence, with Alice then reawakening in the corporation’s confines clad in — much to the delight of the teenage boy fanbase — some barely concealing towels. But it doesn’t take long for her to don her trademark skintight black latex suit and automatic weaponry to once again take battle against a variety of monsters. That’s pretty much it for the plot in this particularly action-heavy fifth edition that helpfully includes an introductory narration by Jovovich to bring viewers up to speed. Other story elements are provided by explanatory computer graphics that help clue us in to who exactly is fighting who.” — Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

The Zombie-slaying Action
“While the script unsurprisingly suffers from Anderson’s cold grasp (after the opening sequence he spends a good 5 minutes recapping the entire franchise, which made more sense than anything I’ve seen onscreen the past 8 years), he does manage to dazzle with his visual effects work. The film opens in stunning reverse slow motion setting up Alice’s capture. There’s no lack of fight sequences, all of which are all beautifully orchestrated. And there’s a heft of sweet visual effects work that popped on the IMAX 3-D screen. It becomes obvious, though, that Anderson has a bit too much creative freedom as he goes a bit overboard by riffing on the Crank-esque X-ray shots that are so 2000 (you know, showing the bones breaking, and hearts stopping inside of the body).” — Brad Miska, Bloody-Disgusting.com

Its Place in the ‘Evil’ Canon
“Those who have despised the series since it began in 2002 and questioned its durability at the box office, why are you even reading this? That goes for those detractors out there who balk at the franchise’s lack of faithfulness to the video games as well. In fact, that goes especially for you guys. Turn away. Because ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ will draw up the same complaints from you: It’s a loose interpretation of the Capcom video games, and an even more loose representation of the characters you love. But as I’ve always said before, the ‘Resident Evil’ films get a pass from me, save for the last installment, ‘Afterlife.’ Understand this: Everything I say critically about ‘Retribution’ is taken within the context of the series. I can’t rightfully say it’s a ‘good’ film compared to some of the movies I’ve praised this year, but I can say, again, within the context of the series, Retribution is a vast improvement over ‘Afterlife.’ ” — Ryan Turek, ShockTillYouDrop.com

The Final Word
“Theoretically, it’s nice to see a representation of our globalized world, with older spatial and temporal ideas challenged by the Internet and other technologies. We can accept that New York, in some sense, is ‘next’ to Tokyo, each subsuming the other. But, here such proximity is primarily an excuse to whip the audience from one action set-piece to another, none of which are particularly gripping in their own right, leading only to a semi-amusing final-act cliffhanger out of left field. Though one heroic sacrifice is absurdly over the top, ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ ‘s typically unceremonious approach to heroism is an accidental boon of sorts, as is its jokey self-awareness about Alice’s leather outfit and its sadomasochistic vibe. Curiously, a resistance fighter named Luther (Boris Kodjoe) is constantly being emasculated by powerful women. A few striking images keep our attention — like evil warrior Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) seated menacingly with an assault rifle on a playground swing in the ‘burbs. But the film’s title promises payback, without offering ample compensation.” — Adam Litovitz, The Globe and Mail

Check out everything we’ve got on “Resident Evil: Retribution.”