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Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
Director: Makoto Kamiya

review by Octavio Ramos Jr

Just how much you like this movie will depend on your affection to the Capcom videogame series. Resident Evil: Degeneration is different from the Resident Evil film trilogy in several ways. First and foremost, this film is set within the same universe as the original videogames and features two principal characters: Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Second, this movie is computer animated instead of live-action. And third, it was made in Japan and has a distinctly Japanese (although not anime) feel.

The story takes place after the destruction of Raccoon City (Resident Evil 4 videogame). Now a member of Terra-Save, Claire arrives at Harvardville Airport to meet a friend, when suddenly a plane crashes into the terminal, literally spilling out it zombie horde, which proceeds to attack everyone within reach. Caught in the mêlée is one Senator Davis, whose guards are devoured by zombies. Claire comes to the senator's aid, and together they find a hiding place.

To rescue the senator, the government sends in a special response team (SRT) led by Leon S. Kennedy and supported by Angela Miller, and Greg, two new characters that drive much of the plot. The SRT battles its way through the zombie horde and manages to rescue the senator and Claire, but not before Greg is bitten and zombiefied. This sequence is the best of the movie, one filled with lots of action and suspense.

The remainder of the story involves WilPharma Corporation, which now houses not only the T-virus and its vaccine but also a deadlier G-virus, which turns humans not into zombies but hideous creatures. Claire becomes involved with WilPharma's Frederic Downing, eventually returning with him to WilPharma's main facility to obtain a vaccine to inoculate the population from the dreaded T-virus. However, Angela's brother, Curtis, has infiltrated the facility and subsequently blows up the central laboratory. Curtis infects himself with the G-virus and begins to mutate as Claire, Leon, and Angela reunite and prepare for a final battle with the resultant abomination.

Those unfamiliar with the Resident Evil videogames will have a somewhat difficult time acclimating to the storyline and all its subtleties. Indeed, the plot hinges so much on such knowledge that after a while such viewers may simply tune out. However, those who have played the game and come to know the characters will appreciate this story immensely, as it remains true to character motivations and what has gone before.

As for the animation, Resident Evil: Degeneration is somewhat lacklustre, as the computer work is not the best, with the characters coming off as a little too wooden and expressionless. The zombies are well done and the lead monster is cool, but given that this is animation, I was expecting many more monsters. The measuring stick for such fare has to be Final Fantasy, which went all-out with its depiction of science fiction elements.

If anything, Resident Evil: Degeneration serves notice on the live-action films with respect to adherence to the source material. If this series is to continue, however, the animation must improve. If it does, then subsequent films definitely will be worth watching.

Resident Evil: Degeneration on DVD

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