"Resident Evil: Retribution" and "Bait 3D": A Comparative Study (2012)



Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
Directed by: Paul WS Anderson
Running time: 96 minutes

Bait 3D (2012)
Directed by: Kimble Rendall
Running time: 91 minutes

Now I know what a lot of you are thinking: “A comparative study of two films that have almost nothing in common? Tom, who do you think you are? Some kind of academic?!” Well, no I don’t think that of myself at all (academia is boring and would require me to use overly complicated and unnecessary words such as “verisimilitudinous”), but having seen these two films I felt they would be interesting to look at together because they both cover subject matter that I am a huge sucker for: zombies and sharks. And they are also both bad movies, though one I enjoyed a lot more than the other. Faithful readers who read my review of The Reef would remember that despite its shortcomings in acting and character, an adrenaline pumping hour with a shark is still an awesome thing. And as for zombies, well I often believe that including zombies into your fiction immediately improves it. Anyway, on with the show! I shall be looking at the films in several categories: story-line, acting, villains and visual effects.

Story-line

Resident Evil: Retribution begins from where the previous Afterlife left off: with a horde of helicopters blowing the crap out of a huge boat containing all the lead characters. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is captured and wakes up in yet another Umbrella Corporation facility that is somehow still functioning after the apocalypse and must escape. The facility itself however is designed with several sections that are copies of the major capital cities of the US, Russia, China and Japan. These replica cities are filled with clones of all the previous characters of the film series and various other humans so as to provide an accurate representation of how the Umbrella “T-Virus” would effect a major population centre and thereby entice prospective buyers. But given the whole world outside is dead, the facility is now being run by its evil computer AI “The Red Queen” and Alice must brave all the test chambers to escape.

Bait 3D is an Australian film about a tsunami hitting a coastal community and flooding a supermarket and its neighbouring parking complex. The survivors of the disaster are now faced with the challenge of escaping the supermarket before the flooding causes any of the electrics to explode the building. However, they have a greater and more immediate danger on their hands: a great white shark was carried into the supermarket by the flood and is now patrolling the waters…

This was a tough one for me to decide, but I’m going to have to give the winner of story-line to Resident Evil because while the movie was incredibly bland and essentially filler before the next film, the premise itself on paper is very awesome. It is the kind of story I’d like to see done in something like Doctor Who, where they won’t get bogged down in overly grotesque monsters and kung fu fight scenes and actually explore the characters and the ethical horror of a facility like this one. Bait 3D on the other hand has a premise that is just plain ridiculous! How on earth would the shark have survived the journey into the supermarket unscathed?! They say the shark is twelve feet long; it would be very difficult for it to have passed through the main entrance of the supermarket without serious injury. Sorry Bait, but Resident Evil has got you beat here.

Acting

Even with a premise such as Bait 3D, the acting in the film was better than expected. That’s not to say it was good, there were some characters who over acted a bit much and others who were a bit dull; but the central characters did alright with what they were given. And trust me, I’m being generous. I’m being generous because even though the acting in Bait 3D was pretty lackluster by my standards, they are nothing compared to actress (not sure I can even call her that) Bingbing Li’s performance as Ada Wong in Resident Evil. It is probably the worst performance I have ever seen. In anything. Ever. There was nothing going on, on any part of her body. To use the term “wooden” would be understating it. It was more like Kristen Stewart’s brow put on a slinky dress and started wandering around. If tomorrow it was revealed she is the prototype in a new line of emotionless automatons, it would explain a lot! Well done Bait 3D, you sucked less than Bingbing Li.

Villains

At first I felt that it would crazy of me to try and find a comparative common ground between sharks and zombies that I could use in this study. But I do think there is an unwritten rule that applies to both these creatures and it is this: it will never be cool for either of them to be able to fully operate automobiles and firearms. While Bait 3D seemed to adhere to this rule, Resident Evil did not. The very moment that an army of zombies appeared dressed in Soviet uniforms, wielding AK-47s and driving jeeps/tanks/motorbikes, my palm collided with my face. Now they aren’t zombies anymore, they’re normal people. They die from a shot to the head, and they can operate technology just like regular humans and it’s boring. In fact, the Resident Evil films seem to have stopped being about zombies and more about giant monsters with long tongues, or behemoths that wield huge axes with nails in their heads. I miss the zombies.

Bait 3D‘s sharks meanwhile surprisingly behaved like real sharks would in that scenario. If a great white somehow miraculously made it into a flooded supermarket, it would swim cautiously and calmly. It would take in its surroundings and be curious as to where it was. The film took some creative liberties by allowing the shark to “develop a taste for human flesh” as a character mentions, which is a process that is still only theorised in the shark community and would take a lot longer than the duration of the film to happen. But the very fact the shark wasn’t actively hunting them, just attracted to them when they were in the water and curious as to whether they are a food source was a very refreshing and realistic take on shark behaviour in film. Well done!

Visual effects

And finally we come to the visual effects. I saw both films in 3D and I’m starting to think that 3D effects really cheapen the quality of CGI in a movie. For example, Resident Evil had some amazing set pieces in the opening sequence, but the illusion of depth that the 3D created made the film look really badly green screened. Bait on the other hand simply had a much a lower budget than Resident Evil and it’s CGI looked a bit fake. However, I must say that the live effects of each film looked awesome. The zombies in Resident Evil looked grotesque and frightening, which is always a plus. But the shark shots in Bait that weren’t CGI and were actually done with puppetry were spectacular, it sometimes looked like there was a real shark in the water! I think I’m going to have to give this one a tie between the films. While they were both low quality films, at least they looked amazing!

In the end, after all these comparisons are made, both Resident Evil: Retribution and Bait 3D are bad movies. They have lackluster story-lines, sub-par acting and are pretty ridiculous. However, I will say that at least Bait 3D kept me interested throughout the film. I felt genuine discomfort and tension whenever a person entered (or fell into) the water to brave the shark, and that’s more then I can say about any of Resident Evil‘s running time. To put it simply, Bait 3D was good-bad. Resident Evil: Retribution was bad-bad.

See you next time!

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"The Bourne Legacy" (2012)

bourne legacyThe Bourne Legacy (2012)
Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Running time: 135 minutes

I’m sure I’ve had this rant many times before, but it really irritates me when the trailer for a film tells me more than I want it to. I noticed that the trailer for Total Recall (the new one) did this because I was already familiar with the story and they basically covered all the big twists in the two minutes they had to advertise it. Maybe I’m crazy, but that to me is not what a film trailer is supposed to. Don’t summarise the film for me, give me the initial premise for the action, or give me something that intrigues me to know more about the film and then that will entice me to go purchase a ticket upon release. One of the best examples of this, in my opinion, was the initial trailer for Cloverfield back in 2007. What began as a semi-documentary account of a going away party suddenly turned into electricity blackouts, a rain of debris and the Statue of Liberty’s head crashing in a New York city street; and then suddenly nothing but a release date. Now THAT was a movie trailer; no plot summary but a short series of events that were very intriguing.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I felt that the trailer for The Bourne Legacy, while not revealing too many plot details, still showed me a thing or two I would rather have not known going into the film. Ah well, can’t have everything I suppose.

Now Showing this week is The Bourne Legacy, directed by Tony Gilroy and following on from the Jason Bourne trilogy of recent years. Now the film initially is very unforgiving to anyone who does not remember all the details of the previous trilogy with incredible accuracy. I have seen all the previous films, but not since the third one was on a the cinemas, so for the first half an hour of Legacy I was incredibly confused with all the talk of Treadstone and whatnot. I recognised the names, but not what they exactly were. But after all that confusion subsides, Legacy is telling the story of American agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) who is taking part in a secret government program to enhance the physical and mental capabilities of their soldiers. However, due to the prior events of the Jason Bourne incident, and the media slowly getting hold of very sensitive information, the program must be burned and Cross suddenly finds himself running from his own government. I suppose if I say any more than that then I make myself a hypocrite after my trailers rant, but it all feels fairly similar the story line of the Jason Bourne films.

One of the films strong points is its story line. My god it was intense and thrilling! Not only Cross being on the run from the government, but the scenes detailing the effort, precision and speed with which the government is tracking him are exemplary. It was rather intimidating and fascinating to see how a group of people in an office in New York could track a man with an extremely deadly special ops skill set. And I suppose I am a huge sucker for any film that deals with how ruthless and cunning the US government can be.

I wish I could say the script was as good as the story line was. Don’t get me wrong, the script wasn’t painful to listen to nor was it a broken script; it was just that some moments felt really weak and the dialogue lazy. I suppose the only moments this really came across was from the character of Dr. Shearing (Rachel Weisz) as she was always being asked why she was involved in the program or why she never questioned her role and her answer was never anything more than “for science! I was there for science!”. She could have said that the research they were conducting fascinated her, for the effects on the human body were huge advancements in the human potential blah blah blah, but instead all she could ever muster up was “for science!”.

Weisz’s Dr. Shearing is the only acting issue I would claim with the film as well. The combination of her performance with some of her poor dialogue made her a character that felt a bit over acted. This was a shame as I like Weisz as an actress, but here she just seemed a bit exaggerated. Renner was excellent as Cross, he really is very good at playing the like-able action hero. But I think he may soon be running out of variations of the character type after this, The Avengers and Mission Impossible. Everyone else was satisfactory, with Edward Norton’s sinister intelligence agent character being very intimidating.

All in all, Legacy was a good watch. It was action packed, thrilling, ethically interesting and good fun. Some minor script and acting gripes aside, Gilroy has made a good spy thriller and it is definitely worth a watch if that is your genre. Sadly though, it doesn’t really end and the production company is clearly wanting to go for another franchise. I get that it is a good investment and all that to go for a franchise, but can we not sacrifice the whole “conclusion” part of storytelling to do it? Please?

See you next time!