Straight-to-DVD tie-ins to coincide with upcoming hyped material are nothing new. Degeneration was released some time before Resi 5 to get people excited for it, and if it turned out to actually be good, all the better, eh? So how did it fare?
Set between Resi 4 and 5, the movie's first half deals with Claire Redfield and a bunch of other survivors, including refugees from biological warfare, being besieged in an airport after a T-Virus loaded aircraft plunges into the building. Trapped, she then calls upon help, which comes in the form of, alongside some militia types, Leon Kennedy.
This first half, although timid in nature, is not bad. It's zombie horror-ish enough, and no worse than some of the other zombies coming out at that time (Diary Of The Dead? What?). It gets by on fan service rather than actually being a good movie, as it's way too tame to have any tension, and the writing's as blunt as anything Anderson's movies ever put out, but at least it's inoffensive.
It's also worth mentioning the 3D animation that is the entirety of the film. It's not bad, but you can see the numbers running the machines sometimes. The lip-synching is pretty terrible, though this may be due to the English dubbing coming off an engine designed for Japanese voices. The faces emote fairly well, and it supports the action scenes well.
The second half? Distinctly different in form. The rest of it is essentially Leon, Claire and one of the militia members, Angela Miller, going around trying to find out why this and why pharmaceutical company WilPharma failed to step in and help those infected with the T-Virus. The movie at this point is very slow-paced.
I personally think it feeds enough interesting narrative points on a regular basis to not get boring, and the Resident Evil canon is interesting enough, especially considering as it has a pretty good link to Resident Evil 5, which was a big deal at the time. I presume this movie's sequel, Damnation, will have something similar when it arrives sometime this year.
I also like some of the plot points in particular. The villain is a tragic one, similar to that of William Birkin, and with characters holding similar sympathies towards him.
However, far from the first half, there's no action until the last 20 or so minutes, in which there's some light zombie-ing as well as a fight between a tyrant and Leon, which looks like something that could have been in Resident Evil 4. Maybe in the upcoming game.
The action is pulled off pretty well, although it clearly signifies that the old, plodding ways of the older games were way gone in favour of the overblown antics of 4 and 5, which is a lot of why 5 didn't do so well over the years, critically speaking.
So yeah, fair to say that if you take this film too seriously, you might not enjoy it. And yet, if you don't, the deliberate storytelling might have you feeling bored long before the end of the film. I don't know. I like it, but I understand the hate all too well, and I have a feeling that this film will not hold up well at all come Resi's sooner-than-you-think 20th anniversary.
Still, credit where it's due; they got the voice actor of Leon from Resident Evil 4 back, despite the fact he was absolutely terrible and everyone knew it.
And with that, we are done with Resident Evil, until the next few films are released of course. Thank God!