Tag Archives: Paul Anderson

“Resident Evil: Retribution” new image, teaser poster and release date

So, it's a low-key, period costume piece, then?

The internets, they keep on giving.

Over on the “Resident Evil” movie Facebook page, there’s a link to this delightful teaser poster for this year’s “Retribution” sequel.  Everything’s gone all Mayan, you might say.

If you’re keeping score, it’s the fifth movie in the Paul Anderson/Milla Jovovich series of game-to-film adaptations and as the last movie – “Afterlife” – was the highest grossing entry in the franchise, it’s hard to see how the September 14th release of this latest film will be anything other than a hit – the fans of the games bitch about the diversions from the game storyline and still buy tickets, the critic’s reviews are (let’s be candid) quite beside the point and at the end of the week, I can think of no more enjoyable experience than heading to the cinema to see Milla Jovovich kicking zombies in the head.

This is the part where Milla negotiates nicely with the zombie horde, yes?

Well, it would be even better if it wasn’t in 3D, but I’m going to lose that battle, so why fight it in the first place?   Stupid glasses it is.

Everybody look at me/'Cause I'm sailing on a boat...

And September 14th, by the way, seems to be the release date for the UK and US – our friends in Australia and New Zealand have to wait until October for the film, which seems desperately unfair or a rare mercy, depending on how you see things.

Isn’t the digital age supposed to bring an end to this idea of stupidly staggered release dates?  Can’t we all share the guilty pleasure awesome at the same time?

 

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“Resident Evil: Retribution” gets a teaser trailer…Now with screencaps!

The folk at Sony’s genre label, Screen Gems, know their audience.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's "Mama Mia 2"...

We’re not bothered by review embargoes, lousy reviews or any of that stuff.  We want genre, we want it made by reasonably competent film makers and, if possible, headlined by actresses who look barely capable of picking up their dry cleaning without an entourage in tow, let alone in kicking the snot out of zombies, were-beasts and toothsome Euro Trash.

Accordingly, Screen Gems have chosen this Friday’s release of “Underworld: Awakening” to debut the trailer for this autumn’s fifth (count ’em) entry in the remarkably resilient “Resident Evil” sequence of action horror movies, “Resident Evil: Retribution”.

And – it’s a doozy.

No, you're not imagining things. This is how the trailer begins.

Beginning with the most absurd piece of product placement since the last Bond movie, the trailer for Paul W.S. Anderson’s latest has nearly thirty seconds of smiling, pretty people speaking to camera for some kind of infomercial, each one of them happily  brandishing some piece of Sony home electronics consumer tech which defines their oh-so-photogenic lifestyles.

Look, a PS Vita! What does this have to do with "Resi", again?

How very nice and synergistic.

That'll be Ada Wong's introduction into the films, then.

This surreal advertorial abruptly shifts into a scene of utterly razor-toothed mayhem, as Milla Jovovich pops up on top of a besieged White House, and a sizzle reel ensues.  Massive mutant creatures chasing a vehicle,  a fleet of armed heli-gunships, surprise returning characters, new global locations and lots of the utterly insane action which has become this series’ defining characteristic.

My name's Alice. And I remember everything. Or nothing. Possibly some Kung Fu.

Physics?  Plausibility? A pox on ye!

And then EVERYTHING exploded...

There’s some kind of correlation to be drawn between the reviews for these movies – try to find a critic who likes them – and their ever-increasing success at the global box office.  Like the similarly critically reviled “Fast and Furious” movies, the opinions of the critical establishment have no bearing on the audience paying their money to go to see each film, as each film makes a ton of money and begets another sequel in another two years or so, in some strange parody of the way that the movie business is supposed to work.

Mr Wesker respects your critical view of his film. Please now allow his Zombie Rotweillers to eat you. Have a nice day.

A movie series based on a video game sequence acting as an agent of unpredictable agitation in a staid entertainment sector and making up new rules on the fly?  Stranger things have happened.

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Why “The Three Musketeers” isn’t as bad as you probably think it is.

Yes, it’s another apology post for Paul W.S. Anderson‘s career – feel free to tune out if you think of him as only slightly less reviled than Uwe Boll and only marginally less hateful to cinephiles than Michael Bay.

See, he looks really nice - how bad could he be? Photo by Albert Ortega.

If I’m writing one of these posts, that must mean that he has a new film out, yes?  Indeed, and it isn’t a new “Resident Evil” installment – this year’s chip off the Anderson block is “The Three Musketeers”, an adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel which takes a remarkable number of liberties with the source material – a more accurate title might be “Jules Verne’s Steampunk Remix – The Three Musketeers” as the film gleefully dispenses with any real sense of historical veracity as soon as it can.

I half expected D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) to rock up in Paris in a Hybrid SUV and arrange his initial duel with the disgraced Athos (Matthew McFadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) via Blackberry Messenger.  In terms of blithely gleeful anachronism, such absurdity would have fitted nicely with D’Artagnan’s Californian accent and shaggy, classic rock tresses.

Two Musketeers, One D'Artagnan and the back of Porthos' head

This is churlish, of course.  Anderson is making a popcorn, multiplex-pleasing adventure romp and any resemblance to historical time periods, events or people would be wholly accidental.

Witness the awesome:

I flippin' love Paul Anderson. Fanboys whine, he gets on with it and goes home to Milla J - Like a boss...

Yes, that just happened. In this movie and all up in your face.  If you go to see this film you should expect duelling airships.  This is where the steampunk or Verne-ian angle comes in – whenever the script finds a problem to resolve, it does so not with the expected horses, swashbuckling or period technology.  Oh no.  We get airships, all manner of automated cannons and elaborate, multi-barrelled pistols, costumes which look like they’ve just been borrowed from Lady Gaga’s dressing room and Da Vinci-inspired security systems which perhaps pay homage to the lethal Umbrella Corporation from Anderson’s previous “Resi” films.

There’s fighting, duelling, honour, guff about France, Cardinal Richelieu and the intrigue in the Royal Court to satisfy Dumas’ fans but suffice is to say that if you value the novel at all, you probably shouldn’t go to see this film – it uses the books as a jumping-off point and the plot sweeps ahead with little if any regard for 17th Century veracity. Even the dialogue, manners and characterisation seem to be drawn very much from our time, not always to bad effect.

As Anderson and his wife Milla Jovovich are involved in this iteration of Dumas story, the role of Milady is invested with rather more action than we are perhaps used to seeing.   Think “Mission: Impossible”-style incursions, abseiling, multi-dude sword take-downs and a distinct sense that Milady could quite happily and easily kick the bejesus out of most of the Musketeers if only (A) she could be bothered to and (B) it wouldn’t mess up her frocks.

No Zombies for Milla this time, but plenty of faceless Royal Guards in need of a shoeing...

I was particularly taken with one Anderson composition in the film – it’s in the scene where (spoilers) Milady is breaking into the French Queen’s dressing room to steal her diamond necklace (spoilers end) and is posed elegantly atop a tower before abseiling from a great height.  I feel sure that it must reference a painting of the period and is the kind of iconic, stylish moment of diversion which I sometimes feel that Anderson might want to interject into his work.  He’s got the eye and works with great directors of photography – I can’t quite get behind the notion that he’s a hack without talent, as he’s displayed his visual acuity in his previous films.  Serving the story and getting out-of-the-way of the movie is one thing – giving ammunition to the more blinkered critics is quite another.

You probably know after watching the trailer whether this is your thing or not – I really enjoyed it (and the blatant set-up for a sequel which follows the initial credit title card seems like it would get rid of much of the problem inherent in adapting a classic by being bat-shizz insane from the get-go).

The acting’s serviceable (although Christophe Waltz and Mads Mikkelsen as the bad guys are gloriously nasty buggers) and the script is frequently guilty of not knowing whether to fully embrace anachronism or make a late-in-the-game effort at authenticity.  The technical credits are excellent – photography, visual effects and sound mixing are top-notch.  I was quite fond, too, of the transitions between scenes – we follow a map between locations a-la forties cinema and Anderson’s found a way to do this in 3D, which I found really nifty and which also recalled Richelieu’s oversized war game pieces in his office.  It’s like the people who make films think about stuff like this – remarkable!

I would like to talk a little about what Anderson did with the 3D in this new adaptation, as he was using the Cameron/Pace camera system to shoot with – but, unfortunately, I can’t.  Although I paid for a ticket to the 3D screening of the film – I’ve made a point of only going to see 3D films shot ‘natively’ with proper hardware and composition, not the post-converted Marvel flicks – my branch of Cineworld didn’t programme their projection set-up correctly this morning and I ended up seeing a pristine, digitally projected presentation without any 3D lens in the projection chain.

This wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that any cinema-goer seeing a 3D movie pays a price hike for the privilege.  I made sure that I got a refund, but it makes me wonder if any less astute film fans have ever found themselves getting a headache at the cinema because the theatre hasn’t properly projected the film in the first place?

The verdict? Not a classic, but a whole heap of silly, dressed-up, swash-buckling, steam-punk fun.

 

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Why I don’t like 3D (but will be seeing “Resident Evil: Afterlife” regardless)

German one-sheet

Renaissance woman and geek icon, Milla Jovovich whups Zomboid booty

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you love something, and it gives you moments of joy in an otherwise difficult existance, it’s long been my belief that you shouldn’t have to defend it against those self-appointed, self-important culture cops who would prefer you to watch, read, listen or play something more enriching and ‘worthwhile’.

You love “The X Factor”? That’s fine – I don’t. In fact, I’ve barely watched a full episode of it, but I would never try and diminish somebody’s enjoyment of it by disparaging the singers and bands entering the competition, or the people who enjoy it (Full disclosure: thanks to my wife’s love of the show, I’m more a “Project Runway” man).

Equally, when it comes to films, I’m quite happy to defend the next movie that I’ll be venturing out to see (and let’s be absolutely clear, here – it’s a movie, not a film).

Clinical white room? Check.  Milla toting dual gats? Check. It's an Anderson film, alright...

Clinical white room? Check. Milla toting dual gats? Check. It's an Anderson film, alright...

“Resident Evil: Afterlife” is the fourth in the series of avowedly unpretentious B-movies adapted from the long-running Capcom series of “Resident Evil” survival horror video games and the latest iteration arrives with that most modish (and divisive) of technical additions – 3-D presentation (indeed, the first teaser trailer proudly boasts of using the same James Cameron /Vince Pace camera system used to shoot “Avatar”).

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, who returns to the helm after producing the second and third films, “Afterlife” apparently continues to appeal to nobody. Critics have consistently deplored the series’ video game aesthetics and ‘level-boss-level-boss’ construction of the screenplays and are united in their condemnation with gamers who would only be happy once the series has gone back to the drawing board, rebooted and the foul stench of the Anderson years has been once and forever expunged.

This, as you may or may not be unsurprised to learn, is where I take my leave of fanboys and hacks and publicly proclaim my unironic, whole-hearted love of this film series (isn’t the word ‘series’ nicer than ‘franchise’? I do get the assertion that this is a movie sequence which has more in common with Fast Food that Fellini, but I do feel that the ‘F’ word, in connection with films, has reached a point of some over-use).

I’ve enjoyed every film in the series to date – and this is possibly due to my misgivings about the Capcom games and their hackneyed insistance on prioritising ancient notions of game design over player logic – if Visceral Games/EA’s Sci-Fi horror mash-up, “Dead Space” can achieve the insurmountable task of balancing simultaneous player movement and looser, intuitive combat against your mutant foes on their first go-round, why can’t Capcom eschew the antiquated, player-hobbling mechanics ingrained in the series and move forward?

That I’m not a fan of the games perhaps affords me the opportunity to enjoy the films for what they are – wilfully absurd, B-grade pictures with no ambition higher than cranking up the sound mix and scaring the crap out a weekend theatrical audience.

I don’t have the problem that many fans have with the films’ insistance on recontextualising characters from different games into a mix-and-match continuity all of their own – that Alice doesn’t appear in the games, or Chris Redfield doesn’t look like a steroid-crazed, 90’s boy band escapee is not my primary concern.

Chris Redfield, pictured here with splendid hair

Resident Evil 5's Chris Redfield, pictured here with big guns and more hair gel than any human could safely employ...

I anticipate only solid, B-movie thrills from “Afterlife” – series mainstay Milla Jovovich glowering and dispatching Zombies with the dispassionate economy one would extend to removing stray lint from a sweater cuff, crunching electro-metallic scoring from neo-industrial noise mongers Tomandandy, the steely metallic set design and clinical look indicative of director Anderson’s involvement and which was perhaps missing from 2007’s entry in the series, “Resident Evil: Extinction” and – drum roll, please – the proper and overdue arrival of game series Big Bad, Albert Wesker.

The film has enjoyed the biggest debut of any entry in the series yet – due, perhaps, to the hilariously overpriced premium being charged by cinemas for 3-D presentation – and shows no sign of slowing down (indeed, initial reviews indicate that Anderson goes for the bold, post-credits gambit of referencing the next installment before the movie that you’re watching has actually finished).

The 3-D aspect is something of an issue to me, as I have suggested in the title of this post. Simply, I’ve yet to see a film which has been honestly and truly enhanced by the 3-D process currently so fashionable with studios and spectacle-minded producers (the less said of the cack-handed, post-processing model beloved of tight-fisted Hollywood power-brokers, the better).

Even “Avatar” couldn’t convince me – I saw it first in 2-D presentation and couldn’t truly tell you that stereoscopic presentation gave me anything more or enhanced my enjoyment over the ‘flat’ viewing I initially took in. The best part of $2 billion at the box office isn’t to be sniffed at, but the technique seems at best to be an enhanced value proposition for the studios – at worst, and in my view, 3-D is a case of the Emperor’s New Pseudo-Raybans.

I hope to report back with good news – I do feel that we need fewer ponderous blockbusters and more unpretentious B-movies filling cinemas, if only to preserve the idea of (comparitively) economic, genre-aware film making – and will do my best to convince you that this latest return to Alice, Raccoon City and Global Saturation is worth your hard-won moolah.

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