The characters in Resident Evil Degeneration love jumping out of the way of things. In fact, aside from shooting zombies, it seems to be their second best talent. Whenever debris gets in their way, they jump out of the way. When there is an explosion behind them, they jump towards the camera. When a zombie closes in, they jump out of the way.
Degeneration is mundane enough that this is the type of thought process you go through while watching it. In fact, it is one of the few notable things in the film, a rather poor attempt by Capcom to expand their video game franchise outside of Sony Picture’s hands and Milla Jovovich.
This is undoubtedly one for the fans, as all character development is based on the games. The history of the different viruses, how they were made, what happened in Racoon City, and various other details are left to the wind.
Degeneration takes place in two locations. The first is an airport, where a zombie infestation causes a jet to plow through the terminal in admittedly spectacular fashion. Conveniently inside is Claire Redfield, former Racoon City cop who survived that zombie assault. When this new infestation begins, in comes her former partner Leon Kennedy to save the day. Yes, it is as generic and contrived as it sounds.
The second locale is inside an extravagant drug corporation, who seems to have designed their headquarters elaborately just because. Here the secrets of the various viruses are revealed, and while they may be told to the characters, their blunt explanations are directed to the audience.
Characters are plastered on-screen, the worst being an impossibly clueless senator who states the most idiotic things for no reason other than to establish him as a jerk. Who walks up to a complete stranger and tells them they hate children, especially when your career rides on your public image? Someone in this movie apparently.
Animation is stiff, and the character models are under detailed. Voice work is appallingly bad, and there seems to be no attempt to lip-synch any of this dialogue. One would assume the Japanese animations had trouble with the dialect, but this is hardly even close.
The lackluster animation makes the action pedestrian. If you’ve seen one zombie shot in the head, you’ve seen it all. There is rarely tension or sense of danger.
Degeneration also contains about seven different endings. Every time you suspect a cut to the end credits, another scene starts. The final fight comes against Curtis, a protester who inexplicably injects himself with the virus, turning into a hulking monstrosity fans of the Resident Evil 2 video game will recognize.
Despite countless assault rifles from a team of military, Curtis won’t die. Leon crushes the mutation with debris, which still isn’t enough. He rises yet again, falling to his death… but magically hangs on at the last second. Leon shoots the beast in the head, which apparently the thousands of rounds fired at the creature earlier were unable to do. It’s a shameless, dull extension to the final chapter, one the film certainly didn’t need.
Given that the storyline takes place between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, this is a blatant and expensive marketing tool, nothing more. It is a disappointment, particularly after Hollywood took a drastically different approach with their series. One would think Capcom would care, but apparently not.
Degeneration was supposedly rendered at 720p, which is this transfers hurdle. Aliasing is constant. It fails to handle any fine lines, from glasses, to hair, to fences, to clothing, to hair, to the guns. Everything appears blocky.
A hallway around the 18-minute mark shows significant banding. Black levels are excellent, and the contrast is finely tuned. Sharpness is fair, although it fails to reach the usual standard of computer-generated work in hi-def. The animation itself is also flat and undetailed, which doesn’t help the look, although not a fault of the transfer.
A TrueHD mix packs some mild punch. Bass is weak, particularly as the plan crashes through the airport. Surrounds are consistently engaged, carrying excellent positional dialogue and tracking. Debris from the various explosions is impressive as it falls around the viewer, and various scenes of fire deliver crackling in all channels.
However, things do become muddy. As Curtis is fighting off the military troops, a loud rock anthem plays with the action, but is lost in the shuffle. Specific audio cues seem missing or bleed together. It’s hard to hear, more of a mashing of audio than discrete effects.
Two pop-up feature are available, the first offering a glimpse of motion capture, storyboards, and animatics. The second is a basic trivia track. The Generation of Degeneration is a fairly in-depth look at the making of the film running 30 minutes. Oddly, subtitles are not on by default, and they need to be.
Voice bloopers are not funny, and neither is the horrible dubbed interview with Leon’s motion capture actor. Character profiles offer text information on the characters, and specific clips. Two Resident Evil 5 promos confirm the movie’s purpose, along with numerous other trailers. BD-Live support takes you Sony’s generic splash page.