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Resident Evil: Damnation (Blu-ray Review)

Resident Evil: Damnation is an all new CG horror/action film set in the world created by the Resident Evil video game series.  It is separate from the live action film franchise and takes more inspiration from various story elements that have happened in the video game series (Damnation supposedly has some loose connections to the upcoming Resident Evil 6), rather than try to resemble the plot of any of the games.  Damnation can technically be seen as a sequel to the first Resident Evil CG film, Degeneration, but it really functions more as a standalone adventure for fan favorite characters Leon S. Kennedy and Ada Wong that happens to tie into the same world.  True to form, the film revolves around a zombie-like outbreak caused by bioweapons, with lots of over-the-top action taking place to stop it.  To its credit, the film does a lot more good than bad, which is a nice change of pace for someone who has not enjoyed Resident Evil films in the past.  It also helps that the Blu-ray does a lot of good as well.

Movie: 

The film begins by wasting no time at all with setup really.  Special Agent Leon S. Kennedy has been dropped into an Eastern European war zone, after having been taken out of his vacation (most likely hard-earned).  Leon has been tasked with a mission to verify rumors that Bio-Organic Weapons (BOWs) are being used in the war.  The U.S. and Russia are both ready to neutralize the situation, but Leon defies his orders from the U.S. government and decides to try and stop things himself by investigating further, instead of backing off.  Leon quickly finds himself in danger as monstrous creatures known as “lickers” attack, only to lead to Leon getting himself subdued and taken in by a group of Freedom Fighters, who seem to have control over these monsters.

While Leon finds himself in this dangerous scenario, we also get to see what super sexy spy Ada Wong is up to, as she attempts to learn all she needs from this Eastern European country’s president by posing as a UN investigator.  From there, both Leon and Ada discover plenty about what the BOWs are doing for the country, which includes the reemergence of the disease (or whatever) known as Las Plagas.  There is also plenty of time to fit in giant monster fights and stylish martial arts, Resident Evil-style.

Getting into my thoughts on Resident Evil as a film series, I haven’t found much luck when it comes to viewing film adaptations of the Resident Evil video game franchise.  I am not a fan of any of the Paul W.S. Anderson directed or produced features and the previous CG film, Degeneration, was laughably terrible.  It was to my surprise that I found Damnation to be fairly enjoyable.  It has slick animation, some cool action stuff, a lot of fun ways of acknowledging the tone of the series, and did I mention giant monster fights?

The biggest compliment goes to the animation quality.  While not completely consistent throughout, the look of various main characters and the handling during the major action sequences is pretty great, with plenty of fine work going into a lot of the details to really convey a cool, Resident Evil-style environment.  The character of Leon is especially notable, as he looked pretty bad in Degeneration and it was nice to see that things such as his hair and eyes were done well enough this time to really sell his animated presence.

Also worth noting is the action.  The move spends a long time setting up a big action finale.  There are some sparse action moments in between, but once it gets to the climax, the film is suddenly quite engaging, despite being a little overlong.  As this is Resident Evil and more into the action-y zone that has made up Resident Evil 4 and 5, game-wise, the subtler horror atmosphere is not very present (and it is missed), but the over-the-top action is here in full force, as we get fun hand-to-hand combat stuff, zombies vs. machine guns, and once again, giant monster fights.  Its storytelling is not exactly a strong suit, but the fact that the action is fairly diverse and fun to watch makes this a nice sort of flick to enjoy as a supplement to the games.

Honestly, I am much more forgiving of this movie than I am of the films, because it is not striving to be much more than a fun fanboy diversion for admirers of the video game series.  The live-action films just never came close to feeling fun for me and served as weird adaptations that both dropped the more intriguing aspects of the games, while forcing in knock-off attempts at being The Matrix and other action/sci-fi films.  Resident Evil: Damnation, of course, has plenty of fun just trying to look cool, but it doesn’t aspire to be more than that and end up being boring in the process.  It’s a slick animated feature that works just well enough.

Video: 

I have already mentioned that the animation in Resident Evil: Damnation is pretty solid.  It may not be up to par with what big movie studios like Pixar or DreamWorks are churning out, but it is a good looking film, and as such, the Blu-ray video presentation certainly does a fine job in making the flick look as good as possible.  Arriving on Blu with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, the things that need to work for a video presentation on a film like this work quite well.  A lot of the film is set in dark environments and the black levels are great throughout.  The details on all of the main characters are quite good, providing a clear view of the level of complexity used to create them.  Colors work well enough for a film that only features one major sequence set in the daytime and otherwise only mainly cashes in on the color red, between the gore and Ada Wong’s overall look.  Overall, I was quite impressed by the video…

Audio: 

…As I was with the audio.  Fitted with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, the film has a great representation of its sound captured on this Blu-ray.  The film is set in a war-torn environment and right off the bat, the film made sure to give that impression.  Gunfire and explosions come through loud and clear, but don’t throw of the balance overall.  Dialogue and zombie-ish moaning comes through just as clear.  The sound effects utilized, whether its Ada using her grappling hook or Leon knocking out infected people with various tools, all sound great throughout.  As a whole, this is a very good audio track.

Extras: 

While not a huge assortment of extras, there is enough here to entertain both fans of the film and gamers.

Features Include:

Conceptual Art Gallery – Blu-ray Exclusive

Las Plagas: Organisms of War – A short that goes into some of the creatures seen in the film.

The DNA of Damnation – The best feature on the disc.  A 30-minute look at the making of the film, which provides enough perspective in almost all the areas, while not becoming tiring.

Gag Real

Game Trailers:  Resident Evil 6, Devil May Cry, Dragon’s Dogma

Ultraviolet Copy

Summary: 

The overall rating gets a slight bump up because I was happy to have enjoyed the film more than I thought I would and the Blu-ray has a strong enough presentation that also kept me satisfied.  Fans of the Resident Evil series, be it the video games or the movies, will probably enjoy what Resident Evil: Damnation has to offer.  Along with giant monster fights, it has enough references to the series and an overall spirit that is true to the games, which makes it enjoyable enough for a viewing.  I guess it also serves as a primer for the upcoming game, so completists will definitely want to check it out.  Boasting some fine animation work, solid sound and video, and at least one extra feature that makes it all worth it, this Blu-ray does the job.

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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