It is mind-boggling that the live-action “Resident Evil” movies have survived as long as they have. The movie franchise chose to inject more over the top action into each title and completely strip away the horror and survival elements which made each and every installment of the video game franchise so terrifying. Not to mention the story took a complete nose dive as did the acting. The 2008 CGI animated film “Resident Evil: Degeneration” brought things back to its roots though. This was the movie fans of the video games had been waiting for. Four years later and we have the sequel to “Degeneration;” “Resident Evil: Damnation.” True “Resident Evil” fans are about to be in heaven.
United States Special Agent Leon S. Kennedy (voiced by Matthew Mercer) infiltrates a small Eastern European country while investigating whether or not Bio Organic Weapons (B.O.W.s) are being used in war. However, Leon is ordered to leave by the U.S. Government as soon as he arrives. Devoted to his mission, Leon chooses to ignore his orders and uncover the truth about the war and the endless string of tragedies the B.O.W.s have caused.
In one of the special features on the Blu-ray, director Makoto Kamiya says he was aiming for a “Resident Evil 4” Leon and that he wanted to put Leon through hell. That is the perfect way to describe Leon’s journey throughout “Damnation.” The Las Plagas virus is now being used for war tactics and utilized in ways that have yet to be introduced in the games. What’s great is that “Damnation” throws you into the first person perspective and makes you feel like anything can jump out at Leon and attack him at any moment. The renders as well as the computer animation are crisp and fluid at all times, especially the hosts of the Plaga, the Lickers, and the Tyrants. The only time it looks awkward is when people talk for long periods of time. You begin to notice that their facial expressions don’t seem as natural as they should be, but it’s easy to overlook.
The lighting in the movie really stands out, especially in the basement sequence and whenever Leon picks up a flashlight. It’s just done so well, feels natural, and even helps add tension at times. “Damnation” can pat itself on the back for actually utilizing the slow-motion effect properly. Lately it seems like most Hollywood pictures use slow-motion for the most pointless sequences like when someone is just standing there in the rain or when somebody turns around. The slow-motion scenes in “Damnation” actually enhance the story and action sequences. There are effects that come out at you better than most movies that are released in or post-converted to 3D and released in theaters; there’s some really amazing headshots including one where Leon shoves a crowbar through somebody’s skull, a table being flipped over and a cup of tea flying at you, a water jug being kicked in your face, and the tongue of a licker jumping out at you.
The story is written in a way that seems intelligent, pulls you in, and feels like it coincides in the same universe as the games. While the screenplay isn’t perfect and kind of misses its mark at times (the JD character, Leon’s lame one-liners, the final speech Leon gives Buddy), it more than gets the job done and even gets pretty emotional at times.
“Resident Evil: Damnation” is the perfect reminder of how great this franchise really can be and is an ideal lead-in to “Resident Evil 6” due out October 2nd. If you’d lost faith or had been purposely distancing yourself from the atrocity that is the live-action movies (and if that’s the case no one could blame you), “Damnation” is the movie for you as is its predecessor “Degeneration.” These CG motion pictures are what everything “Resident Evil” fans wished the movies would have been. Smart, bloody, well-written, and incredibly creepy, “Resident Evil: Damnation” more than lives up to the “Resident Evil” name.
Special Features include The DNA of Damnation (a thirty-minute making of featurette), Las Plagas: Organisms of War (around seven-minutes, be sure to watch this if you have any remaining questions after the movie), a six-minute Gag Reel, game trailers for “Resident Evil 6,” “Devil May Cry,” and “Dragons Dogma,” and a Conceptual Art Gallery which is exclusive to the Blu-ray.
“Resident Evil: Damnation” will be released on single-disc DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday, September 25th. The feature is presented in 1080p High Definition with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. DTS-HD MA audio is available in English, French (PAR), and Portugese with Spanish and Thai being available in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Korean, Portugese, Spanish, and Thai. The movie is approximately 100 minutes long and is mastered in High Definition.