Resident Evil: Retribution (Movie Review)

I hate to sound like a Negative Nancy, but the script was mostly incoherent and the acting was sub-par at best. I went through the entire film thinking, “a movie is supposed to be a story” — whereas this felt like an incomplete chapter. I know we don’t walk into a Resident Evil film thinking it’s gonna be a classic, but it should at least have a captivating story. This film, like the previous installment, relied too heavily on the CGI.

If you’ve missed one or two of the Resident Evil entries since the original big hit in 2002, there’s no need to worry, so have some of the actors. Reprising roles from one previous films or another are: Michelle Rodriguez (Rain, No. 1), Oded Fehr (Carlos, Nos. 2 and 3), Sienna Guillory (Jill, Nos. 2 and 4) and Boris Kodjoe (Luther, No. 4). Don’t fret, either, if you’ve never seen one of these films in your life. A handy prologue, narrated by Alice, lays it all out for you.

I was also a little turned off by how they just plucked things out of various Resident Evil games and stuck them all in together to appease gamers, it’s a complete “let’s just stick this in there, that should suffice” mentality. And yes, I do understand that the majority of people who go see these films are fans of the gaming series, but for those who aren’t, they wouldn’t know who some of the characters were.

In Resident Evil: Afterlife, a newspaper clipping stated that one of those characters (who was in this film) had already been killed off, so even I was a little bit confused. That being said, I still managed to get a nostalgic erection seeing those characters for the first time onscreen.

As for the 3-D, it’s pleasing if you’re an occasional moviegoer, but for those who judge a 3-D experience based on the number of objects that fly out of the screen, you might be in for a little bit of a disappointment. The 3-D was seldom used during this film. This isn’t a big issue for myself, as I’m not really a fan of it being incorporated into film.

In conclusion: Resident Evil: Retribution is style-over-substance in every possible definition of the concept. The plot only served as an excuse to move the characters quite literally from one action sequence to the next, and the 3-D is uncomfortable, off-putting, and will more than likely draw you out of the ensuing onscreen action. A number of later developments clearly show that the director (Paul W.S. Anderson) avoided emotional character moments in favor of over-the-top action at every single turn. However, in a time when amateur filmmakers can throw together cool action videos with blockbuster CGI special effects in their home office, context and competent storytelling should be more relevant than ever. If Anderson doesn’t care enough about his characters and story to make them anything but emotionless fighting and shooting machines, why should we, the audience, care to sign up for further installments of his Resident Evil vision?resident_evil_retribution_2-t2


Expanding my documentary horizons

I tend to watch a lot of nature, deep sea and Egyptian related documentaries. That’s really where my passion lies, but I’ve learned to broaden my tastes in recent months.

5 Broken Cameras—An extraordinary cinematic work of political activism, this film is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements.

Unscarred: The Nick Mondo Story—If you’re a wrestling fan, I implore you to give this film a shot. This docu covers everything from early life and humble beginnings to uncertainty in the business and ultimately having to give up his dream. Low budget it is, but the passion he brings to the table more than makes up for it. You will witness the rebirth of Matt Burns aka “Sick” Nick Mondo.

Food, Inc.—This film really woke me up to exactly what we purchase in our local grocery store. After you see this film—and it is essential that you do—you will have a different outlook, not just on nutrition, but also on what you put in your shopping cart. This film helped me to establish a love/hate relationship with fast food. Also, it made me look at name brands like Tyson and Purdue differently, and the inhumane, unhealthy and unsanitary conditions in which chickens, cattle and pigs are raised and slaughtered. This film was an eye-opener, to say the very least.

The Fog of War—This is an amazing story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara. One of the most controversial and influential figures in world politics, he takes us on an insider’s view of the seminal events of the 20th Century. Political leaders worldwide could learn a lot from this compelling look at the welfare of mankind.

Now I’m about to watch the Jodi Arias Documentary, which you can find on Youtube.

Into the Wild (2007): Great adventure began with sacrifice

The other day I took a chance on the film Into The Wild and I was absolutely blown away by how powerful it was. It depicts the real-life events of Christoper McCandless, who disposed of his cash, assets and personal belongings and spent two years hiking around the American Southwest before heading to Alaska in search of a great adventure. This journey of self-discovery is both moving and inspiring on so many levels. Such an endeavour is often of no interest to anyone but the individual themself; however, this is a story that had to be told. In this day and age of motion pictures that overkill with CGI, have mundane plots, and no real heart, this film was a welcome breath of fresh air.

Director and adapter, Sean Penn, did a great job of transforming Jon Krakauer’s words and depicting them onscreen. Yes, that’s right, Sean Penn. I would have never thought I’d see him creating a screenplay so moving and heart-wrenching. This work is so far removed from anything I’ve personally seen him do in the past, but he did an exceptional job. He really focuses hard on the main character, Christoper McCandless, and the people he touches and inspires along his journey.

The movie can be a little slow-paced at times – that’s really the only negative aspect I took away from it – but there’s always something around the corner that lifts your spirits.

Anyway, I truly believe this is a film everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. I implore you to give it a shot.Image

The Luka Magnotta Case

For the last 10 months, I’ve followed the Luka Magnotta case quite closely. If you’re unfamiliar with the case, here’s some background on it: Luka Magnotta (Born Eric Newman) has been charged with the murder and dismemberment of Concordia student Jun Lin. Lin, originally from China, was in Canada (Montreal) on a student visa to pursue an education in engineering. It is speculated that Lin responded to a Craigslist ad posted by Magnotta to lure him to Magnotta’s apartment the day of the murder.

I came to know the name Magnotta one day after a friend invited me to join this group on Facebook. She told me it was a “comedy page”; well, that couldn’t have been any further from the truth. I should note at this point in time that I’ve never had a fascination with serial killers per se, but I’ve always been intrigued by how their minds work. Early on into the debates, it was clear that this group had an eclectic mix of individuals—some being pro-Luka, while others wishing he was dead. Mind you, this was just a war of words between both parties. Something I found eerily fascinating was the number of young girls—anywhere from the age of 10 to 16—who were just simply infatuated with this man, devoting their undying love to him, wanting to be with him, etc. I’m a little familiar with stories that surround Charles Manson, but I was unaware just how prevalent this was in society.

Magnotta is accused of murdering and dismembering Lin on camera in Magnotta’s Montreal apartment (one block away from where I currently reside might I add) on the night of May 24, 2012, posting the murder video online, and mailing the body parts to political parties and schools in Ontario and British Columbia. Magnotta subsequently fled the country on May 26 and travelled to Paris, France and then Berlin, Germany. On May 29, the first body part packages arrived in Ottawa and Lin’s torso was discovered in a suitcase outside Magnotta’s apartment, and an international manhunt began. Magnotta was captured reading about himself online at an internet café in Berlin 5 days later, on June 4, 2012, and was quickly extradited to Canada.

Learning about Magnotta has been almost a case within itself. Here’s a man who reeks of narcissism, is flamboyant, and obviously suffers from some severe personality disorder, be it disassociate identity disorder, borderline personality disorder or something else. He was also obsessed with his looks and cosmetic surgery. Delving further into his back story, I learned that he didn’t have exactly the ideal upbringing. Problems with his mother, drug and alcohol problems, and abusive step-fathers, were just a few of the things he had endure; so I can feel empathy for him on that end. I, myself, went through 4 years of hell living with an abusive step-father, but as the years went by, I learned to put it behind me. I don’t think you ever forgive or forget, you just learn to deal with it. Of course this isn’t the same for everyone; a lot of people have a hard time coping in their own lives when they’ve been traumatized by whatever event, but then again, there are many who go on to live healthy and productive lives. As to why Magnotta allegedly committed these murders, again, his character depicts a man who craved the spotlight. He auditioned for reality T.V. shows, such as Plastic Makes Perfect and Cover Guy, talking about how people thought he was “devastatingly good lookin”—this truly shows a man infatuated with his own self. Luka also dabbled into escorting and the gay porn industry, but I feel it’s unnecessary to speak upon at this moment in time.

The preliminary hearing began on March 11, 2013, and it’s been quite the circus thus far. One of Magnotta’s defense lawyers cried in the courtroom, while another took himself off the case altogether. Magnotta is not exactly presenting himself in ideal fashion either, showing up to court dressed in a Versace logo shirt, purple skinny jeans and sneakers on one occasion. Whether you’re in a courtroom being charged for first-degree murder or your first speeding ticket, wearing a suit is a sign of respect; it shows the judge you take the process seriously. The media inside the courtroom has broken down his every movement from “crying” to “fainting”—I put that in quotations because many analysts say it looks extremely fake—and he was even seen waving to an apparent fan. It just doesn’t look good on his part. Here’s a man about to go on trial for first-degree murder, and yet he’s making a huge spectacle of things. If I was in his position, I’d sit there quietly and keep my eyes on the floor. The preliminary hearings have been adjourned until April, where I have no doubts a trial will follow, and the publication ban will be removed. We just want proper justice to be served, most people can attest to that, this story has affected a lot of people not just in Canada, but around the globe.

Has Luka killed before: While the possibility has been widely speculated by police as well as the media, there’s still no evidence proving that Luka has indeed killed before. The biggest theory I hear is that he could be the “Hollywood Sign Killer.” Police are now probing possible links between that gruesome case and the one currently underway here in Montreal. I can, however, confirm he has been directly linked (and I hate to have to write this) to the kitten-killer videos that went viral on YouTube a couple years back. He’s currently facing, among other things, four counts in addition to the murder charge: committing an indignity to a body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament, and mailing obscene and indecent material. So, it should be one hell of a trial.Image