Regardless of your perception on Michael Jackson, he was the biggest pop star on Earth for the better part of three decades, and he totally redefined the music scene in the 1980’s. Maybe Michael Jackson did become white, maybe he did molest kids, but as David Chappelle would say, “He made Thriller. Thriller.“
After reading all of those Resident Evil: Retribution 3D articles I have written over thelastfewmonths, you should have a good idea of my stance on the movie. I was never a big fan of the franchise, but I would watch it for the lack of a better alternative when it comes to entertainment.
Yep, that’s what I did. Initially, I was pondering about the possibility of watching the movie in 2D. I elected against that option and opted for the 3D version instead. I felt it’s only right for me to review this movie the way it was intended to be watched despite of my general disdain towards the overused gimmick. Rest assured, I did not review the movie in filtered lenses. (You can call it a pun if you’re stretching those lenses all the way to include the Real D ™ glasses.) Just because a movie is in 3D does not mean it’s poorly made. But in the end of the day, I did shell out an extra $4.50 for you gals and guys. (Yes, I did say “gal” first. I’m defying against the patriarchal system. Sue me.)
It wasn’t as long of a stretch as I thought as the glasses are sort of tinted. Call it an intended pun. It’s still a bad one but whatever.
Anyways, here’s a brief summary of Retribution. Basically, Alice (Milla Jovovich), our protagonist, is captured by Umbrella. Now, the once pharmaceutical-company-turned-evil-corporation-which-exists-solely-to-perform-eeeeviiiiilllllllllll-deeds has the technology to clone people and run simulations of the zombie virus spread in a huge ass facility. Yea, it’s revealed pretty early on in the movie so it’s not really a spoiler. In a nutshell, the movie is about Alice getting out of the facility with some help from her pals, new and returning ones alike.
Plot-wise, the movie makes sense because the series no longer makes any sense. By that, I mean if you adopt the RE movies’ insane, illogical thinking, everything makes sense. Two wrongs do make a right. That does not mean the story is by any means good though – not even in a “so bad it’s good” manner. There are major inconsistencies here and there, and some things magically happen without explanation. There is one huge plot twist early on in the movie, but it is presented in a manner that doesn’t feel like a surprise. To be honest here, I have forgotten a good chunk of the movie, partially because of the countless action sequences, and the hotness of Milla Jovovich, Bing Bing Li and Sienna Guillory. Michelle Rodriguez is not bad herself.
[Insert your own sarcastic comment here. I don’t have any.]
When it comes to the characters, they all exist to make Alice look bad ass. None of them, literally, is likable. Ever felt Alice was one-dimensional? That’s not going to change. The story writers tried introducing elements that make her seem multi-layered, but they just failed to work out. It might be Jovovich’s acting; it might be the writing. Either case, I did not walk out of the cinema liking her more. New characters were insanely overhyped. Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand) are extremely far off their game counterparts character-wise. As for Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), she is a slightly more faithful re-imagining of the femme fatale, though not by any means a good one. Neither of their origins was elaborated upon, nor was there any form of character development. They are, in short, replaceable.
Boy was he terrible. Anderson actually made Leon hateable. I know “hateable” is not a legit word. Once again, sue my broke ass. I have noting to lose.
Returning characters generally feel unnecessary. Other than Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), they all exist to make Paul W.S. Anderson’s wet dream come true. Some of these returning characters were dead, but managed to spring back to life because of Umbrella’s cloning tech. Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) showed up multiple times throughout the movie. Multiple clones of them exist and each duplicate contains a different personality. Yea, any traces of whom they were are nowhere to be found. The movie simply does not need them. Their return doesn’t add anything to the story or characters for that matter, and it doesn’t really make any statements. As for Jill Valentine, she is an antagonist in the movie, under direct control of Umbrella. I have already gone on and on about that ridiculous mind-control device strapped to her chest so I won’t talk about it again here. Anyways, she is one of the more “established” (and I’m using the word lightly) characters here, so at the very least, she adds something to the movie. She makes you sort of care. Well, not really. It was more of a “relatively speaking” statement there.
They don’t have personalities in the first place. Just replace them with generic evil soldier clones.
The visual aspect of Retribution is done well, and I am talking about both the 3D portion of the movie and the female cast. There are scenes which show off the gimmick for the sake of doing so (eg. Firing at the audience), but most of them feel right. Fight scenes are still corny, but you should have known what you’re signing up for at this point. There is a car chase, which is average. Gun fights could be better if the good guys brought the right weapons. Most importantly, as mentioned, the women in the movie are insanely hot. There is one scene which features Milla Jovovich covered by two pieces of cloth, with one on the front and another on the back, leaving the audience with quite a view. Does the costume make sense under those circumstances? No. Is more Milla Jovovich hotness awesome sauce? Yes. Am I complaining? Hell no. Bingbing Li looks good in that Chinese dress as well. Those heels are ridiculous, and I am nitpicking somewhat here, but she’s hot so whatever. (All that talk about defying against the patriarchal system? Wow, I’m a big time hypocrite. Perhaps we should start sexualizing the hell out of men as well.)
With that said, Paul W.S. Anderson has yet to answer to my biggest complaint for the franchise. The movies have always felt too serious for me to like them. This is no different. It’s trying too hard to be art. It’s trying to be Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy when the original material doesn’t have enough substance for him to pull it off. The movie ends up feeling like a giant Milla Jovovich billboard. Not that there’s anything bad about focusing entirely on one character, it’s just that the movie has too large of a cast for an intimate experience to be possible.
Better luck next time.
Bottom line: If you have watched Resident Evil: Afterlife and actually liked it, Retribution is a souped up, more awesome version of that movie. If you are looking for a decent action flick which includes hot women kicking asses and requires no critical thinking whatsoever, this is also a movie for you. If you are looking for a decent story, avoid at all costs.
Requiem for a Tuesday, literally, has a better storyline than Resident Evil: Retribution. (See what I did there?)
4 of those points went to the ladies in the movie. The rest for 3D being done well enough. [Ed. Note – somehow this equals 3/5 Grizzly’s]
If you’ve read my previousentries on Resident Evil: Retribution 3D, then you’ll know for a fact that I don’t care for the movie. Not that much anyways. When it comes out, I’ll probably watch it simply because there is nothing particularly interesting going on in my life, and I need my entertainment. I’m so bored right now I’m actually listening to Nora Roberts’ (or JD Robb if you’re getting all worked up about pseudonyms) In Death series audio-books. They are not by any means bad; they’re just kind of tacky. Just saying…
Come to think about it, Eve Dallas has one of the corniest names ever. Dallas as your last name? Really? You get to name yourself and you decide on the name of a city? I know that’s where you’re found as a runaway kid but can you go for something a little less ridiculous, like “Jenkins” or even “Smith”?
Regardless of my “zero f***s given approach” towards the movie, Sony (or someone) decided to release (or leak) footage of Alice (Milla Jovovich) and Jill (Sienna Guillory) getting it on, and by getting it on, I mean “perform a bunch of style-over-substance fighting moves in those hideously tight catsuits while dubstep plays in the background.” As you may or may not know, Alice is our heroine of the franchise whereas Jill was one of the protagonists in the second movie, or the first one – I can’t really remember and am not bothered enough to look it up – before she was brainwashed by Albert Wesker through a ridiculous device strapped to her chest.
Sienna Guillory is hot but logic still applies.
I can’t stress enough how ridiculous it is to design a brainwashing device for chest attachment. For real, son? I know it’s taken from Resident Evil 5 (the game) but come on. It did not make sense then and it does not make sense now. Any person capable of normal human logic can tell it’s that thing located right above Jill’s boobs causing her to be eeeevvviiiiiilllllll. You can stick it on her back, in her nostrils, or even up her ass if you’re ballsy enough. All of these options are significantly less visible. But whatever, it’s Resident Evil. Nobody’s watching the movie for its logic or authenticity.
I swear the intent of implementing such a design is to see more skin.
The scene takes place on ice. Basically, you get to see people trash talk (but not actually hear what they’re saying because the dialogue portion of the audio was cut). Then, evil Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) injects something into her blood stream and knocks out Ada, who was held hostage. A shootout commences and a fight emerges.
*shivers in fear*
It turns out whatever Rain injected in her body makes her virtually bulletproof. Alice has her ass kicked and throws an ice axe at the audience because the movie is in 3D. You are obligated to have one of those shots if your movie is shot in 3D.
Wow, the 3D effects are sooooooooo realistic. It’s as if Alice is throwing an axe at me and I can actually die. I’m shook. Wait, I will actually die of the headache caused by 3D effects.
I can dig movies that are intentionally bad, movies that don’t take themselves too seriously. (eg Black Dynamite) Retribution looks bad and is taking itself way too seriously. Paul W.S. Anderson actually believes that his audience won’t cringe watching this flick.
Come on, brother. It’s not 1995. Flamboyant fighting styles don’t work no more. Roundhouse kicks are not badass anymore.
*Chuck Norris walks in*
*Chuck Norris bashes JasonDaPsycho’s face on the keyboard*
*Chuck Norris does a roundhouse kick on JasonDaPsycho*
*Chuck Norris leaves JasonDaPsycho lying half dead*
Roundhouse kicks are awesome. My bad.
Back to the topic, Anderson needs to stop pretending as if this movie is anything more than an action flick featuring video game characters. Once he comes to that understanding, I believe the movies will be much more enjoyable. That’s for me, at least.
Resident Evil: Retribution 3D will hit theaters on 14th September, 2012. The Judge Dredd reboot doesn’t come until a week after, so apparently, there is no choice.
Summer is a quiet time for video gamers. With triple-A titles such as Call of Duty and Dishonored not being released until fall, there really isn’t a reason to get excited about summer if you’re a gamer. Of course we have Darksiders 2 which came out earlier this week, but that’s pretty much it.
Or is it?
Sleeping Dogs was also released on Tuesday for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. The game, once went by the name of True Crime: Hong Kong, was under United Front Games’ development before it was dropped by Activision. The publisher of the infamous Call of Duty franchise decided that doing something different and switching things up are not part of their repertoire, and thus gave up on the title after pooling in a couple of years’ worth of resources and time. Six months after the game’s cancellation, Square Enix purchased the publishing rights to the game. And a year later, the game was released.
So, does the game make you put your dogs to sleep? Wait, that’s a horrible attempt on a pun, like “I’m gonna perform seppuku to express my shame” level of horrible. It doesn’t even make sense. What’s wrong with me?
The game puts you in the shoes of Wei Shen, a detective working for San Francisco Police Department. He was seconded (or “lent”) to the Hong Kong police to help investigate a triad known as Sun On Yee. Wei was born and raised in Hong Kong for most of his childhood, and has some connections to triad members in the city. These factors make him a seemingly perfect candidate for undercover work in the gang. So, Wei is assigned a handler and his journey on the fine line between black and white begins.
Yea, we have all heard that story before.
Plot-wise, the game is fairly predictable. The characters range from the good-guy-who-turns-out-to-be-the-big-bad to the asshole-who-turns-out-to-be-cool-cat. You know, the usual stuff. Of course, there are also the dialogues practically made out of cheese:
Handler: I’m shutting the operation down because you can’t handle the stress Wei: You can’t do it now! They see me as one of them. We’re so close! Handler: That’s what I’m worried about – you’re one of them.
Obviously, we also have the melodramatic sequences in which the protagonist is not sure of his identity. You know, sound bites of characters from both sides of the law playing in the protagonist’s mind as he drives in the rain to confront a major antagonist and sad music about being lost or something like that playing in the background. It’s pretty much a basic requisite for any form of entertainment that involves police working undercover.
Despite of the story’s predictability and cringe-worthiness, I find it, strangely, enjoyable (though not by any means good). How the journey unfolds feels right, and most of the characters are fairly likable. Characters complement each other very well even though they’re molded straight from the cookie cutters of movies or TV shows dealing with Asian gangs. In this case, they picked the right cookie cutters and baked good cookies. They’re nothing mind-blowing, but they are very solid. The story flows well and is satisfying. Like a well-made sponge cake, it is nothing to be excited about, but you’ll eat it. It’s relatively bland compared to other cakes, but at the very least, it will meet your expectations since there aren’t too many things that could go wrong in a sponge cake. In non-food-analogy terms, the game tells an average story. Since the story is pretty easy to execute, and the writers delivered a solid performance, there aren’t too many flaws to be found in the end product. Your low expectations are easily met.
I still don’t understand the title though. Just thinking about it is wrinkling my brain.
(Note: Per TV Tropes. the title is based on the proverb “Let sleeping dogs lie”. It should be interpreted as “leave something alone as it may cause trouble”. I still don’t get it though. Does that mean the protagonist should have left his past alone? Whatever. I’m done with this.)
7 grizzly paws out of 10.
Throughout the game, you will be completing around 30+ story missions. There aren’t too many varieties among missions. Most of them feature the player getting from point A to point B in a car, kick some asses, chase someone down on foot, and maybe pick up a gun and shoot some people. They’re fun, but not revolutionary. Early story missions introduced side quests. More on that later.
As far gameplay mechanics go, they are pretty well-done. The cars feel grippy, and are fun to drive. The devs did a great job in creating the sense of speed. Driving down the highway has never been more satisfying. Cars have different handlings. You can tell the difference between driving a van and a coupe. I did not like the motorcycles though. Their handling is not agile enough for me to pick them over cars. You can hop from one car to another as you drive, performing a mid-air high jack of sorts. Personally, I didn’t care for this feature. The cars you purchase from merchants are much faster than civilian cars anyways.
The shooting mechanics are so-so. They’re just there because open world games set in modern times need guns. You have a reticle and you shoot people. There are pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, shotguns and grenade launchers. That’s pretty much it. They don’t feel all that different. You can get into slow motion if you hit X (on the PS3 controller) as you vault over cover. That’s generally how I eliminate the baddies. Bullet time is somewhat over-powering if you ask me. A skilled player can take out quite a number of hostiles in one use.
The fighting mechanics, however, are other-worldly. Picture Batman: Arkham Asylum’s system on steroids. Unlike Arkham Asylum, you can grapple your enemies in this game, and you need to hit a different button to counter enemy attacks. You can’t chain up insane combos in this game like you can in Batman, but I would take the melee combat system in this title over the other. Why? The combat in Sleeping Dogs is very fluid and much more brutal. You have the usual melee weapons as well. Most importantly, you can use the environment to your advantage. Grappling your enemy and hauling his ass into the spinning blades of a fan cannot be more satisfying. Or drop a car engine on him if you feel like it. Hell, you can throw him off a building if given a chance. It has the hands down most awesome hand-to-hand combat in open world games.
The parkour style on-foot chases are decent. Basically, you hold down the X button to run, and when the screen prompts you to vault or climb, hit the X button. It’s not Assassin’s creed though, since you can only climb low walls. It’s not like you can get to the top of a 10-storey building by just climbing up the side of said-building. The pursuits are fun due to the diversity in environments. Running through the crowded night market of Hong Kong chasing after a gangster is pretty mesmerizing.
When it comes to side quests, the game offers a decent amount of those. Obviously, there are the usual street races, which are fun because they’re short and the driving mechanics are great. There are also the random encounters, which are diverse in objectives, though most of them follow a similar structure – the usual get to a certain point, do some stuff, and get paid. You may also pursue a romance if you so desire. Romantic interests appear as contacts on your phone after certain missions. You can invite them out for a date. Afterwards, you’ll receive some sort of reward. Most of them reveal the locations of hidden items on the map. These relationships are incredibly shallow since you won’t be able to contact them anymore after that one date (and in some cases, not see them ever again throughout the story). I have no idea why the devs were bothered enough to include this feature.
Speaking of hidden items, there are different types of those. There are health shrines, which boost 10% of your health for every five you find. You can also look for lock boxes, which grant you a generous sum of cash, or clothing items, or even a firearm. You are also asked to keep an eye out for security cameras. These cameras are located all across town and you’re asked to hack them on location. Hacking them will lead to potential drug busts. There are also statues which you can keep an eye out for during missions. These statues, when brought back to the wushu academy, can give you new fighting abilities. The rewards are immediate and adequate enough for you to actively seek out for them.
The critics are in love with the leveling up. To me, it just seems like a no-brainer. You have the cop XP and the thug XP. The former requires you to drive carefully throughout missions and not harm innocent civilians. The latter asks for you to be brutal towards your foes. (Perform an environment attack for example.) They do not contradict each other. There is the face meter as well, which keeps track of your progress on side missions. The more side missions you complete, the more you progress on your face meter. For each level of face you gain, you will unlock perks such as reduced prices of clothes and cars.
Customization options are limited to clothes. Wearing different sets grant you different perks as well. Some increase your XP and some reduce the price of cars. You can also purchase cars from merchants. They are generally faster than the generic civilian transport. Either case, there is nothing too special about them.
Powerups are available in food stalls. Different types of food grant you different temporary abilities. Consuming a can of energy drink will enhance your melee damage whereas eating a bowl of curry fishballs will increase your rate of health regeneration. They are readily available at all times, even during missions.
In conclusion, the gameplay is fine. It will last you somewhere over 20 hours. There is nothing innovative, but there are also little wrongdoings. The game is just fun to play. The complaint will be the devs were playing it a little too safe.
7.5 grizzly paws out of 10.
Presentation is where this title shines. Having spent the first 16 years of my life in Hong Kong (which is a shit hole if you ask me), I am glad to report that Sleeping Dogs is a fairly accurate portrayal of Hong Kong. The game covered only one of three major areas of Hong Kong and only four of eighteen districts. Despite of these shortcomings, you can clearly tell the devs did their research. There is a balanced mix of eastern and western architectures across the city. Each district has a distinct feel to it and is a good representation of its real life counterpart. The narrow roads on the slopes of Central and the neon lights in North Point brought me a sense of nostalgia. Certainly, street vendors selling food do not happen anymore and the back alleys are much cleaner in reality, but there is no complaint from me. As a matter of fact, their inclusion gives the city an early-90’s feel, when nasty alleys and food carts were everywhere.
Complementing the city’s sights are the sounds. There are many interesting dialogues going on between pedestrians and they are surprisingly good reflections of the current Hong Kong culture. Some of the swear words / phrases are surprisingly explicit (which is a plus in my book). Well, I’m sure most of you don’t understand Cantonese, so this may not be a point of interest to you. Either case, I must applaud the devs for putting in all that hard work in making the city feel authentic.
I must also compliment the voice acting in Sleeping Dogs. The devs somehow managed to involve big time Hollywood actors in the project. Names such as James Hong, Will Yun Lee, Lucy Liu, Tom Wilkinson, Kelly Hu, and even our beloved Emma Stone appear on the credits. They did a fantastic job in giving lives to the characters they were playing. Sadly, the devs have underused many of these talents. Most of them appeared in no more than a couple of missions only to be ditched and forgotten. For any Emma Stone fans out there, she appeared in only two missions and her character was never mentioned again. Anyways, I must also give credit to the rest of the cast – the ones voicing the nobodies on the streets. They were responsible for making the in-game city alive.
When it comes to soundtrack, the game covered a good number of genres. From Canto pop to Chinese oldies to American hip hop, they have it all. Don’t ask me if I like the Chinese tracks in the game. I listen to English music exclusively. Modern day Canto pop consists of incredibly one-dimensional love songs only. Anyways, the soundtrack doesn’t blow fishes out of water. It’s solid, but it’s also nothing special.
9 grizzly paws out of 10.
With that said…
The game is good. It is nicely executed but lacks in innovation. Without a doubt, it’s much better than its predecessor, True Crime: New York.
7.5 grizzly high fives out of 10
I don’t do round-ups.
Should you buy it?
Not now. As good as the game is, it is not on the level where Square Enix can command 60 bucks. Grand Theft Auto IV was perfection in presentation and Saints Row The Third was creativity at its finest. Certainly, the presentation of Sleeping Dogs is almost on a phenomenal level, but it is not enough to overcome the shortcomings in gameplay.
It’s a good, clean punch but not a knock out.
Rent the game or wait till a price drop (to somewhere under 40 bucks).