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.
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.
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.
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!
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!