By Matthew Walker
December 30, 2008 - I have never made a secret out of how I felt about the live action Resident Evil films. There were always aspects of the games in each film (Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and Resident Evil: Extinction) but there were also things the fans wanted that they never got.
That's not saying I didn't enjoy them for what they were, but, as a fan of the video game series that spawned them, I could never call myself a fan of the films. Thankfully, earlier this year Resident Evil: Degeneration was announced as an all CGI film ala Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Even though it's not coming to theaters, it hasn't stopped fans from wanting the production team to hurry up and get the movie released, so we could wash away the foul taste Resident Evil: Extinction left in our mouths last year. However, does Degeneration use Listerine to wash it out or just a peppermint candy to temporarily get rid of the taste?
Taking place seven years after the Raccoon City incident, the film opens up with Claire Redfield arriving at Harvardville Airport. She is now a member of Terra-Save, an organization that rescues individual victims of chemical or biological weapons, taking more of a savior route since the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica. There's also a protest outside the airport raging, with individuals wearing zombie masks and throwing signs in the air to protest both WilPharma and Senator Ron Davis, who has just arrived at the airport. We cut to a scene of a passenger plane on its way to Harvardville Airport, and we see a man ask a flight attendant for help. Soon thereafter, astute fans of the series will see that the man is in the final stages of infection from the T-virus. From this point all hell, literally, breaks loose.
After a seemingly isolated attack by one zombie against a security guard, there are zombies popping from every crevice of the airport attacking people. As one might expect, even when the situation looks dire and out of control on the ground, the airplane carrying the infected man comes crashing into the airport terminal. This probably delivered one of my favorite laughable yet cool moments of the film. The latch door pops open and then zombies come pouring out one by one to amp up the carnage already occurring in the airport.
From this point of the film, the story becomes a rapid-fire, insane moment after insane moment, thrill ride. Leon S. Kennedy arrives and along with two members of S.R.T. (Special Response Team), Angela and Greg, infiltrate the airport to rescue the survivors. There is even a very special homage to when Claire and Leon first met that fans of the series will pick up on and may cause a fleeting moment of nostalgia for Resident Evil 2.
The film's story from the opening airport sequence quickly develops into a well thought out story intertwining the characters that have been introduced, while delicately linking them to the Raccoon City nuclear explosion, wiping every zombie of that incident out. Everything surrounding the new characters' storylines is handled well enough for you not to question exactly what is going on with them and whether everything is just a wild coincidence or some other devious plot. Without giving any more of the story away, I will just say that this is the kind of storytelling that all of the Resident Evils should have had, and if this is the new precedent, then Resident Evil 5 should be a storyline we will all love.