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Resident Evil: Degeneration(2008)
A zombie attack brings chaos to Harvardville Airport. Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield who fought the sinister Umbrella Corporation during the Raccoon City tragedy 7 years ago, are back. In high-octane Resident Evil style, they're ready to battle a rogue warrior who is seeking revenge after his family was killed in Raccoon City. The deadly G-Virus is unleashed and a new mutated monster goes on the rampage. Will Claire and Leon be able to terminate the virus before history repeats itself?
For more about Resident Evil: Degeneration and the Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray release, see Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on January 7, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Alyson Court, Paul Mercier, Laura Bailey, Michael Sorich, Roger Craig Smith, Crispin Freeman
Director: Makoto Kamiya
» See full cast & crew
Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray Review
How many more spin-off's can one video game series support?
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, January 7, 2009
The Resident Evil franchise has become quite the monster (sorry for the obvious pun). Having spawned four video games, and three live-action movies thus far, it seems the next logical step was to create an animated movie.
Following on the heels of the Final Fantasy films (Advent Children is excellent), Sony Pictures Entertainment and Capcom joined forces to bring a "realistic" CGI movie to fans of the Resident Evil video game series that would bridge the gap between the fourth and fifth video games. Given the film's limited appeal to general movie-goers, Degeneration only received a limited release in Japan and the United States (the films two major markets).
My first exposure to this animated film was in the form of a trailer included on the Resident Evil: Extinction Blu-ray. While I can't say the trailer was all that great, I was intrigued by the idea of taking the franchise in an animated direction (though at that time I had assumed Degeneration would be a continuation of the Resident Evil film series).
As stated earlier, this movie is meant to bridge the gap between the fourth and fifth Resident Evil video games (Resident Evil 5 is currently scheduled for release on March 13, 2009). Therefore, as this movie is not a continuation of the events that occurred in Resident Evil: Extinction, having knowledge of that film is unnecessary.
Before I go into the plot of the film, I should say that I have not played the third or fourth installment of the Resident Evil video game series, so I may not be as knowledgeable on the background of this movie as those who have played the games. However, I'll try to offer a bit of history to those that have zero experience with the video games.
The story begins back in 1998, in a place called Raccoon City. In a laboratory within Raccoon City, the Umbrella Corporation has created a "T-virus" that turns exposed victims into zombie-like creatures. The laboratory is partially destroyed, but not before the virus spreads to the inhabitants of Raccoon City.
In Resident Evil 2, Claire Redfield (a college student) and Leon Kennedy (a rookie cop) work together to further destroy the Umbrella Corporation's laboratory, but it is revealed that the Corporation has also produced a "g-virus", which causes more significant mutations to those infected by it. Claire and Leon manage to get out of Raccoon City just prior to the City's destruction by a nuclear bomb dropped by the U.S. Government to prevent the spread of the t-virus.
Flash forward to the present day, and we have the beginning of this film. Claire Redfield is now a member of an organization known as Terra-Save, who handles search and rescue operations following biological attacks. She arrives at an airport to meet a friend, and finds herself in the middle of a t-virus outbreak resulting from terrorist activity.
The airport is quarantined, and Claire is stuck with a small group of survivors. Leon is sent to the airport (now a government agent), and joined by Special Response Team Members Greg and Angela. This three person team fights their way through the airport to locate Claire and the other survivors (one is a selfish senator with ties to a pharmaceutical company called WillPharma), and eventually escape the airport.
Outside the Airport, 3 trucks arrive from the pharmaceutical company called WillPharma, and it is revealed that the company has developed a vaccine for the t-virus. Meanwhile, Leon discovers more about a terrorist group that is furthering the spread of the t-virus, and demanding the U.S. government admit to their involvement in the creation of the virus.
There are several story twists that eventually lead to the discovery of who is behind the terrorist activity, and I thought the film was wrapped up nicely (though clearly leaving room for the sequel). From a plot standpoint, I don't think fans of the video games will be let down.
On the other hand, I was occasionally let down by the quality of the animation. Though backgrounds were excellent, and most of the character animations were decent (I still don't understand why they can't eliminate that "stiff" look in CGI that utilizes motion capture), the facial animation was downright awful at times. Pay attention to the newscast during the title sequence of the movie to see a perfect example of this. The character's lip movements don't come anywhere close to matching up with the dialogue.
The filmmakers included a featurette on the disc (see below) in which they relay how much effort was put into perfecting the facial movements and emotional expressions of the characters, but I just don't see it. Final Fantasy: The Spirit's Within was released over 7 years ago, yet it didn't have lip-sync issues or the extreme lack of facial emotion that is present in Degeneration (both movies use similar animation). I don't know if this was the fault of Digital Frontier, who primarily did the animation for this movie, or if it was the fault of the voice actors not paying attention to the animation while they delivered their lines, but the result is underwhelming, to say the least.
Regarding the actual voice work itself, I thought it was decent but not exceptional. The actor's used for the voices are anime veterans, and do a fine job of conveying the characters emotions (even if the animation doesn't). Fortunately, there were no over-the-top voice actors as we sometimes find in animated films.
Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080P high-definition, Sony Pictures has delivered a nice shot to the brain with this transfer. Framed at 1.78:1 (which will fill your 16:9 display perfectly), and utilizing the AVC CODEC, this is a nearly flawless presentation. I spot checked the bitrate throughout the movie, and it hovers right around 25 MBPS. Given the fact that this is a direct digital to digital transfer of a CGI movie, I can certainly say I was impressed with the video quality.
Although there are occasional daytime scenes, the majority of this movie takes place in dimly lit locales. Even in the darkest scenes, I could easily make out the finest details, and the depth looked almost 3-dimensional. Color reproduction covered a broad spectrum, and appeared accurate given the filmmaker's intentions for various scenes. I did not detect any noise, digital artifacts, or line shimmering at any point during the film. On a side note, if you would like to see an example of stellar contrast, watch one of the scenes where the characters are walking through a dimly lit corridor with their flashlights on.
Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The only lossless audio track on this Blu-ray is an English TrueHD mix. Since the film was made primarily for English-speaking audiences, there is no Japanese track included on the disc. Unfortunately, that also means the poor lip-sync issues cannot be blamed on dubbing. Overall, the audio on Degeneration is excellent. My surround speakers were noticeably active throughout the movie, and my subwoofer received a much-needed work out (I haven't been watching nearly enough action films lately). The sound engineers that worked on this film must have had a blast creating this audio mix, and I believe it's safe to report this Blu-ray accurately reflects their effort.
In addition to the English TrueHD mix, we also have a French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Thai mix in 5.1 Dolby Digital, with a wide assortment of subtitle options.
Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
A Look At Resident Evil 5: (1080P, 5.1 digital, 4:35) This feature includes 2 trailers for the fifth title in the Resident Evil video game series. The trailers consist of cut-scenes (no in-game footage) that provide a glimpse of the objectives and plot for the upcoming game.
Interactive Picture-In-Picture: (Plays over the film if selected) This feature presents icons throughout the movie that allow you to view storyboards, crude animation renderings, or footage of the motion capture activity during certain scenes. It was interesting to play around with a little, but not something I'd bother with throughout the length of the movie.
Pop Up Trivia Track: (Plays over the film if selected) If you're a big fan of this film, then this may interest you. I re-watched about a half hour of the film with the trivia track on. The majority of the pop-ups provide additional information about subtle references made in the movie that are not fully explained in the dialogue.
Character Profiles: You can cycle through a list of the characters in the film and see a brief biography. Some characters have a link to an action montage you can select, while others have a link to snapshots taken from the movie.
Voice Bloopers: (1080P, 2.0 digital, 9:06) If you have 10 minutes to spare after watching the film, be sure to check out this supplement. Several scenes from the movie are presented with different dialog that is truly hilarious at times. Sadly enough, the dialog in these scenes sometimes lined up better with the mouth movements than the actual film dialog.
Faux Leon Interview: (480P, 2.0 digital, 4:47) The actor that presumably played Leon in the motion capture portion of the animation process is interviewed. He is wearing the motion capture suit, and the interview is conducted as if the actor is "Leon" talking about the movie and his experience.
The Generation of DEGENERATION: (1080i, 2.0 digital (Japanese), 30:05) When this feature begins, you will need to use your remote to turn on English subtitles (unless you speak Japanese). Given this is a domestic release, I was surprised the subtitle option was not automatically chosen when the featurette begins. Regardless of that minor technical issue, this is the most in-depth feature provided on the disc. The producer, director and writer provide information about many aspects of the film's production.
Lastly, the disc includes 12 trailers for other Sony films, and is BD-LIVE enabled for the inclusion of future special features via download. The only BD-LIVE features available at the time of this review are two clips from Comic-Con International 2008.
Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you are a fan of the Resident Evil series (video game or movies), then I would at least recommend this as a rental. The action sequences are staged well, the plot is entertaining, and the video/audio quality is top-notch. Some of you may be able to get past the lip-sync issues easier than I can, but it greatly diminished my enjoyment of the film. Hopefully the studio will take a little more time with the inevitable sequel, and make sure animation problems like this are kept to a minimum.
Resident Evil: Degeneration: Other Editions
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Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Resident Evil: Degeneration Pushed Up for Saturday Release - December 3, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced they are pushing up the release date of the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Resident Evil: Degeneration', which is now due to hit store shelves on December 27th, day-and-date with the DVD release. This is the latest in ...
• Resident Evil: Degeneration Gets Detailed - October 17, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Resident Evil: Degeneration', which is due to hit store shelves on December 30th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented ...
• Resident Evil: Degeneration Gets Specs (Updated) - September 2, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has revealed the specs for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Resident Evil: Degeneration', due to hit store shelves this winter, day-and-date with the DVD release. This all-CGI film picks up seven years after the fall of Raccoon ...
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