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"Resident Evil: Retribution": A Triumph of the Human Spirit 

Wednesday, Sep 12 2012
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Most action filmmakers are lucky to generate as much sheer razzle-dazzle in the course of an entire movie as Paul W.S. Anderson gets into the first five minutes of Resident Evil: Retribution, running the opening set piece in voluptuous reverse slow-motion, with spent shell casings leaping back into pistols and shock troops slurped skyward by helicopters. The fifth entry in the Resident Evil franchise and the third directed by Anderson — one of the few filmmakers who makes 3-D worth the glasses rental fee — Retribution 3-D picks up where 2010's Afterlife 3-D left off, with Milla Jovovich's Alice in a pitched battle with the insidious Umbrella Corporation's forces. Captured, Alice awakens in one of those underground compounds of which Anderson is hopelessly fond, a proving grounds test facility made up of "stages" through which she must escape by passing through a series of one-upping trapeze-act combat numbers toward a rendezvous point with allies. A submerged world of soundstage set pieces populated by rudimentarily human cloned dummies, Umbrella's universe is essentially that of Anderson, whose lavish visual imagination is matched to a placeholder idea of character that's almost avant-garde in its generic stylization, dialogue buffed of personality by passing through 10,000 previous movies. Diagramming every revolution of Jovovich in wheeling and whirling action, however, Anderson is pitch-perfect when singing the body electric, and it's impossible to call any movie whose finale incorporates nuclear submarines and a zombie feeding frenzy in arctic waters less than a triumph of the human spirit.

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Nick Pinkerton

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