New on DVD: Resident Evil: Degeneration

The narratives that accompany the new generation of video games are often on par with those that propel feature films. It was therefore no surprise when filmmakers began to turn to popular games for movie ideas. But until now, there had not been a feature story that resembled the game narrative without the interplay.

Resident Evil: Degeneration revives and reunites two former game characters: Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. They had fought together against the Umbrella Corporation during the Raccoon City tragedy seven years ago. Today, the T-virus is unleashed in a bio-terrorist attack, overrunning an airport with infected creatures. Joining forces with a rescue unit, the duo must contain the biohazard and defeat a hideous mutated monster created by the new deadly G-virus.

This tale is as unrelated to the Milla Jovovich films as the films are to the video games. Where filmgoers have been following a story that revolves around Project Alice, the game world has expanded and the threats have become more widespread. That said, big screen adaptations tend to succeed by reaching out to a wider audience, not just those familiar with the source material. Degeneration was made by video game manufacturers for video game consumers – everyone else is left somewhat out of the loop.

The feature resembles an expanded game narrative and the characters do not have a lot of depth; even those in conflict are left unexplored. The infected horde look cool and the action sequences are satisfying. However, the holes in the story make it harder to enjoy for the uninitiated.

The DVD bonus features are various. A 30-minute featurette explores the pre-production, goals and use of motion-capture technology; most of this is subtitled, as the filmmakers are Japanese. The character profiles are short blurbs accompanied by one-minute action sequences or a photo gallery. A series of voice bloopers is actually amusing alternate dialogue over re-cut footage from the flick. The “faux Leon Interview” seems somewhat out of place and not exactly what was expected, as the subject is Leon’s loud real-life stand-in. In addition to several Degeneration trailers, two sneak peeks to the video game saga’s new chapter, Resident Evil 5, are included.

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