Okay, so...behind the scenes, the Video Game Movie Project has been going on, but I've been continuously failing to blog about it. :) So in part one of the catchup process here, let me mention that, after taking a little break for Silent Hill, I got to catch up with the rest of the Resident Evil series.
As you may or may not recall, I had watched Apocalypse and Extinction, the second and third movies in that series. After seeing those two, I thought it would be nice to see the first movie again, since it had been quite a while since I'd seen it, and I suddenly felt I needed a refresher course.
It turns out I really did. Not that the movie was so different than I remember, overall. Like...it was still a little bit good, a little bit bad, and a lot forgettable. Not so much stood out about the film that I'd really be made to remember it. That said, I really should have started off the series by re-watching the first movie, as they actually did put some effort into setting up the later movies, so that would have been nice to see, since I totally didn't remember any of that by the time I watched the second movie.
The first movie was also kind of...well, ridiculous. It did itself credit, though, for sometimes knowing and acknowledging its own ridculousness, so kudos for that. But it was still ridiculous. :) (I'm having trouble trying to exemplify this; maybe the best illustration would be Alice kung-fu fighting the mutant Dobermans?) In any case, it suffered a bit from being half an action movie and half a horror movie and being neither one very well. I much preferred the second movie just for being a great action movie. But there wouldn't have been a second one without a first one, so...well, I guess that's just how it goes. :)
I finished off my time with Resident Evil with a fourth installment, though after seeing it, I really don't think it belongs grouped with the other three. The last movie was an animated feature called Resident Evil: Degeneration. Let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed the flick. It was all computer animated, and it was really well-done. I assume they used motion-capture for this; if they didn't, it was really brilliantly animated, because the physics of people's motion was amazing. The visuals were really well-presented, the story was decent, and it had a pretty good flow and a lot of excitement. Plus, and I felt this was important, it really took advantage of its medium.
I like animated films for their lack of limitation on special effects. Basically, there is no real limit to what you can create or destroy for the sake of filming. Quite early on, this movie featured an airplane crashing into an airport terminal. This is a huge event. It would also be, well, difficult, say, to film out in the world. :) But animated films enjoy the advantage of having the "real" things be seamlessly integrated with "special effects" things. So if you animate a passenger jet crashing into an airport terminal, it looks just as "real" as anything else animated in the movie, you know? So if it's well-done, it looks awesome. And this was well-done. When I say "animated," I don't automatically mean "cartoony." The sense of physics and mass was well-conveyed in the animation, and big things happening...well, felt big. It was good stuff.
Another benefit of the animated venue was that of creature effects. If you want to see people shambling around who are all wounded and rotting away, then you draw that. What you don't need is human-shaped people shambling around in rubber suits or makeup or anything like that. You don't need squibs or fake wounds when someone is being cut down by gunfire. You don't need wires or camera tricks or...well, anything. You just need to draw stuff happening, and it looks cool. I can dig it. :) So thumbs-up for presentation; I call this one a really well-presented movie.
So...storywise. Basically I don't think Degeneration had much to do with the live-action trilogy. This sort of comes from two directions. One, the live action trilogy didn't seem to have all that much to do with the video game series (excepting maybe Jill Valentine in the second film), and Degeneration seemed much more closely linked to the video game storyline. Two, one of the main characters in Degeneration is Claire Redfield, who also shows up in Extinction, but who is totally different. Claire Redfield is a big deal in the video games, but the Claire Redfield in Extinction was nothing like the video game Claire, while Degeneration Claire was very much like video game Claire. Also in favor of Degeneration being it's own thing was that...well, as much as it was tough to swallow the change in the world that would happen between the second and third movies, it would be really tough to accept the world changing back from the post-apocalyptic wasteland presented in Extinction back into the somewhat normal-looking world of Degeneration. Mostly, though, it was Degeneration's closeness to the video game world that makes me think that it's a separate beast from the live-action movies.
In summary, then, Resident Evil (the first movie) remains pretty so-so in my mind, but it belies the coolness of the sequels to follow. The fourth movie, Degeneration, I don't even really think of as a fourth movie; I think of it as a standalone animated feature based on the video games, and a really well-done one, at that. I recommend Degeneration, even if you haven't seen (or didn't dig) the live-action movies, since it's so much its own thing.
So...there ya go. I think that puts a cap on Resident Evil. Next up: the Tomb Raider series.