While not the first CG Resident Evil movie ever (that “honor” goes to the previously feautured “Biohazard 4D Executer”), Degeneration is arguably the first proper full lenght animated feature based on the Capcom series, intended as an opposite entity to the live action movie series, as those followed the plots of the game very, very loosely, but Degeneration clearly sets itself within the universe of the games, set sometimes after Resident Evil 4 and before Resident Evil 5.
Why it is this film (and the following sequels) kinda ignored, you may ask.
The answer i feel it’s pretty much as obvious as kinda inevitable, and can be really summed up with “motion capture based 3D CG animation”, which has never been too popular among either hardcore or casual fans of the franchise, or self-proclaimed “animation lovers” for that matter.
But i am not here to perpetuate some convictions you held without bases to them, i’m here to give it a fair shake, makes sense to do it now while this and the other CG RE films are still up on Netflix, i’m trying to get some more use out of the thing.
And if you’ve followed me for some time you know that i’m used to see both amazing and god awful animation, in october i watched Dominator The Movie, for fuck’s sake.
And while i understand this style of animation not really being appealing to many for the obvious reasons (as it does look like a feature length videogame cutscene), i wouldn’t call this a cheap production by any meaning of it, for the time and place it hails from it looks fairly good, this is definitely one where they poured in money to make it look as good as they could.
The problem with Resident Evil Degeneration isn’t the animation, but pretty much everything else, there’s really no getting around that fact.
the really hockey n slockey dialogues do match the old RE feel, but they’re still pretty bad and clash with the po-faced serious tone this movie tries to go for, with no levity or playfulness at all, just a slurry of tired B-movie cliches without any charm or fun.
It’s almost noteworthy how low effort the movie goes for a “serious” tone, and this grey boredom infects the characters as well, with Leon Kennedy’s personality feeling like a parody of the fun cheeseball he was in RE 4, as he’s just “cool”, cold and knows “what needs to be done”, a joyless bastard and the other characters being just as boring, stock and forgettable you won’t even care.
The plot is tiepid to be generous, so weak it can’t even committ to making the defunct Umbrella responsible for the incident in case, it has to be another evil pharma company that in the cliffhanger ending gets robbed by Tricell, the other main evil pharma megacorpo post RE 4.
The basic outline is that in 2005 an american airport falls victim to a T-virus based attack, with the terminal infested with zombies and an airplane crashing down because of the very same virus, forcing Claire Redfield to help the passing senator and others to survive the zombie attack, while the US Army calls in special unit Leon S. Kennedy to help rescue the senator and reveal the intention of the terrorists that are supposedly behind this biological warfare.
Did you guess that most of the action happens in another of those giant sprawling underground biolabs, with a self destruct timer, the heroes having to face a Tyrant-type monster, Claire having to flick switches in order to help Leon, and that the obvious villain was really that obvious?
At the very least the narrative keeps moving and things keep happening, so it doesn’t feel as long as it could have been, and it’s not utter shit or anything, but it’s so by the numbers you really could imagine-guess most of the thing without ever seeing it if you ever so much looked at someone play any Resident Evil. Or any B-movie ever. It just lacks any kind of identity of its own, anything to say or do, so its obvious cynical nature becomes undeniable, and it’s immediatly forgettable to boot.
I don’t regret watching it once for curiosity’s sake, but its utter mediocrity and the style of animation used having not aged that well don’t really make one wish for future re-watches, if any at all.
It got a videogame tie-in (also simply named Resident Evil Degeneration and delisted years ago) for smarthphones and a sequel in 2012, with Resident Evil Damnation, so strap in boys.