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January 21, 2009
Resident Evil: Degeneration Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
None21/1/2009Sony PicturesMakoto Kamiya
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1MA15+Paul Mercier & Alyson Court (voices)

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That is Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil.
Capcom's Resident Evil series of games has been a massive success for the company with sales to February 2008 reaching a mammoth 34.5 million units, and many millions more to be added with the release of Resident Evil 5 on XBox 360 and PS3 in March this year. Three feature length movies have also been released starring Milla Jovovich as Alice and have amassed a worldwide box office of $US380 million. This fourth movie, Resident Evil: Degeneration isn't a direct link to that franchise but rather a standalone movie made in Japan - and using computer generated graphics.

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 again?

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Claire Redfield in the airport.
This movie could be considered a bridging story between Resident Evil 4 and the upcoming Resident Evil 5, although exact ties, and story continuation in Capcom's upcoming game remains to be seen. Importantly non-gamers should be able to pick up what is going on pretty quickly, and unlike Final Fantasy Advent Children you need not have a detailed background knowledge to get the most out of the movie.

What we have here is a story which sees Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy come together for the first time since Resident Evil 2. The T-Virus is still menacing, and the world is now threatened, while the G-Virus is almost unleashed upon the world. The movie has a pretty good pacing with several other interesting characters including the Senator, and the kick-ass Angela Miller. Unfortunately I felt that one of the main villains in the movie Curtis, was under utilised - you never really see much of his story. After a quiet opening 10 minutes or so the movie starts to pick up pace with some decent action sequence, and importantly, some interesting dialogue. It's not the best video game based movie ever - we still put the original Resident Evil at the top - but it probably won't disappoint fan, and possibly non-fans.

The question has to be asked, how good or bad is the CG in this movie? Well it's not terrible that's for sure, but it's certainly not up to either of the Square-Enix Final Fantasy movies. Lip Synching in particular can be off at times, and it's quite off putting while some of the animation looks a little stiff. Still, this isn't a massive Hollywood production, so we can forgive some shortcomings.

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Degeneration is somewhat gory in places.
Resident Evil: Degeneration comes to Blu-Ray in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which fills a widescreen TV nicely. The video, which of course is presented at 1080p, has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and there isn't a blemish in sight. The opening of the movie is intentionally dirtied up as if you're watching a TV broadcast, but after that it's a flawless presentation - almost.

On a technical level there was the odd scene here and there where there appeared to be some colour banding - very faint mind you, but apparent. We also felt that some of the black levels could have been a little deeper.

Also hurting the transfer slightly is the quality of the actual rendered images. As we previously mentioned there is some inconsistency in the quality of the animation and the locations - some scenes are quite impressive, others don't really do too much. Fortunately many of these issues occur early on, and seem to reduce over time. Also annoying, is the very average lip synching which is quite out of synch with the dialogue (it's not just a timing issue).

The main audio track on this disc is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 effort. I was a little surprise that while there was some use of surround sound channels they weren't as aggressive as I would have thought. Still, the dialogue is crystal clear at all times, and the subwoofer does get used extensively in the latter part of the movie especially. In terms of voiceovers Alyson Court has returned to voice Claire Redfield as she has done in several of the Resident Evil games while Paul Mercier does a fine job as Leon S. Kennedy.

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This interior location looks great.
Other languages on this disc include Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Russian and Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 448kbps. While the fidelity isn't quite the same as that of the English Dolby TrueHD track, given that tracks lack of punch these tracks don't sound too poor by comparison.

Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH (nice to have both English tracks), Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Swedish and Ukrainian. It seems all the bases are covered, and from sampling the English tracks we don't think you'll encounter too many problems here.

Resident Evil Degeneration has a few extras on the Blu-Ray disc worth checking out including a decent documentary and Pop-up Trivia Track. Still, more would have been nice.

Interactive Picture-in-Picture: Exclusive to this Blu-Ray release (meaning it's not on the DVD) is this neat little Picture-in-Picture allows you to select Animatics, Motion Capture or Storyboards throughout the movie and watch either of these in a PIP window. It's a shame its so small - especially the Storyboards, but remains interesting.

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The Senator on the right is an interesting character.
Pop-Up Trivia Track: This Pop-Up Trivia Track puts up some interesting facts about the story, characters and Resident Evil universe. Worth popping on the second or third time through the movie for additional info.

The Generation of Degeneration (HD/30:04): This is the main 'making of' documentary on this disc and it is quite well put together with plenty of behind the scenes motion capturing shown, how the locations and characters were designed, voice recording and visual effects. The filmmakers (who are Japanese, but all subtitled) detail the process of making the story, linking it to the game, and how they came up with many of the ideas in the movie. Quite interesting, especially for those who played through the games.

Character Profiles: This Java based extra allows you to select from ten different characters in the movie, get some basic details about them including either video or footage. Pretty basic.

Voice Bloopers (HD/9:06): Four different sections of voice bloopers. These aren't really bloopers, but more like the voice actors mucking around with their lines and changing the dialogue. Some is funny, to an extent.

Resident Evil: Degeneration Trailers (HD/7:14): Five Trailers are presented here including the Teaser, Comic Con #1, Comic Con #2, Tokyo Game Show 2008 and Theatrical Trailer (which unlike the other four trailers is only in Standard Definition for some reason?!).

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Some of the effects in Degeneration are great.
Faux Leon Interview (4:47): A interview with Leon apparently, but it's really just an interview on the motion capture set. Somewhat amusing, but would have been better if Capcom had spent a bit of time and taken the motion capture to make it a CG interview.

Resident Evil 5 video game footage (HD/4:35): Two trailers for the upcoming video game are presented here - the Tokyo Game Show 2008 Trailer and Special Theatrical Trailer for the game.

Without a doubt this Blu-Ray release is aimed at fans of the Resident Evil games and to a lesser extent the movies starring Milla Jovovich. Production values are a bit variable, but things seem to pick up as time progresses to an interesting story, and some nice little nods to the game series. Worth a look if you’re a fan of the games, and a perfect way to get excited about Resident Evil 5 which is due out in under two months now.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.