Resident Evil: Damnation (2012) (film review).

Directed by Makoto Kamiya, ‘Resident Evil: Damnation’ is an animated feature film. It’s a continuation of the long-running videogame based series which started life many years ago as a conventional movie. Now, after several transformations it has become a pinnacle of computer graphics presentation, an example of what can be done with the latest technology but, like Data from ‘Star Trek Next Generation’, does it possess a soul?

First of all to the movie itself, which is released on DVD and Blu-ray. Dark and sombre, it is set in an unspecified East European country, a former member of the Soviet Union. Its chequered history culminates in a civil war where a deeply polarised society has collapsed with the various factions fighting each other. The government with its army and lots of weapons desired the country to become internationally successful, even with hopes of joining the United Nations and European Community, but with a war going on these hopes were unrealised. The dispossessed formed into an armed uprising that was largely beaten back though not to be outdone, they resorted to dangerous tactics by the creation of biohazard weapons.

Meanwhile, there is a special agent going about called Leon S Kennedy from the United States, who is trained in all manners of fighting methods which he’ll need when he meets the biohazard monsters. Despite being told to return to base, he has gone underground in an attempt to find out what’s going on. This venture will take him to deadly danger, fighting the agents of both sides and also strange creatures which are difficult to kill. From now on, it’s also shoot to kill.

The presentation of the computer graphics is excellent. It’s well-synchronised, superbly realistic and is quite easy on the eye to watch. You soon become unaware that it’s actually graphics and not the real thing but that’s not entirely a matter of getting the pixels right, it’s a matter of learning of what human nature and acting is all about. It’s no use having a technically realistic presentation which makes people look like people but then makes the mistake of having them not acting as people should. Characterisations with mannerisms and all the things that make people human have got to be put in as well. Some early examples of computer graphics fail miserably in this aspect and leave the characters soulless but it has to be said that ‘Damnation’ doesn’t fall into this trap. The characters are life-like and they behave like real people.

The plot isn’t terribly complicated. It relies on plenty of action, dark scenes with perilous entrapments, escapes and, of course, there is lots of shooting. After all, it is based on a video game. Don’t expect to see any zombies from earlier ‘Resident Evil’ movies but expect to see strange deadly creatures, genetically modified people with crazed minds controlled by agents of terrorism. The monsters increase in scale as the movie continues, making them more and more difficult to fight. With a limited plot is difficult to say much without being a spoiler so let’s leave it at that. Basically, if you’re looking for action, you will not be disappointed.

People talked about computer graphics in the past wondering where it will all end. World famous actors may not have to act in the future except for the initial representation of their characteristics to be downloaded with the computer doing all the rest. We may even see the ludicrous situation of an actor, fat and bald, sitting in the bar downing beer watching himself act as a representation some 40 years younger. Maybe not, but it will be interesting to see how matters progress over the years. At the moment, computer graphics do not pass for the real thing but in 20 years, who knows what will be possible.

If you’re one of the many ‘Resident Evil’ fans, you’ll definitely want to watch this and you will also enjoy the additional features which include a featurette called ‘Las Plagas: Organisms Of War, and also something about the making of ‘Damnation’, both interesting in themselves. If you’re not a fan and haven’t encountered computer graphics before, this would be an interesting starting point.

Rod MacDonald

(Region 2: pub: Sony Picture Home Entertainment B008D08SZS. 1 DVD 96 minute film with extras. Price: £ 9.99 (UK))
cast: Matthew Mercer, Dave Wittenberg and Wendee Lee
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