I have 50 DVDs, none of them are pirated!
Cast your minds back to early 1997, Clinton is in the White House, France are preparing to host the 1998 World Cup after the recently completed Euro 1996, and somewhere in Lincoln, England, is a young child (well, I say young, I was 12) being given a computer game by their brother that would change their life forever. That game was Resident Evil.
My brother had bought it for himself (note that my brother is 16 years older than me) but could never get beyond a certain enemy (the giant snake encountered about 20 minutes in) and so he gave it to me. I beat that enemy at the first attempt and my passion for zombies started there and there.
18 years later and not a lot has changed. I still buy Resident Evil games when they come out, no matter how poor they are these days, and I still go and watch the movies, again, regardless of how poor they become. So it was with a delight that as I continue this build up to halloween with a review of a horror film every single day, that the animated Resident Evil : Damnation doesn’t seem to be that well known, with a relatively low amount of votes on IMDB, so it gives me a great chance to talk about something that I love, or at least used to love.
This is probably the longest intro I have written for a review so far and with just cause, I am passionate about the franchise and along with Monkey Island, Mortal Kombat and a few select others, the Resident Evil franchise helped define me as a person and I certainly wouldn’t like as many
I believe that this is also the first animated film that I have reviewed for this website.
Following on from the events of Resident Evil 4, Leon Kennedy (Mercer) is sent on a mission to the Eastern Slav Republic to confirm if Bio-Organic Weapons (shortened to BOW for the rest of the review) are being used in the battle and then report back to his boss. However, following an explosion Leon finds his contact half dead before finally being finished off by a BOW known as Licker. The Licker is about to kill Leon as well before it is ordered not to by an unseen figure.
Leon awares to find that he is being tortured by local rebel fighters. When soldiers invade the hide out, Leon manages to escape and befriends one of the men who was previously torturing him, JD (Tasso). They are soon attacked by a group of people who have been infected with the Las Plagas parasite, but they just manage to escape. Upon escaping Leon runs into Ada Wong (Taylor), a woman who he has previously had run ins with during the events of Resident Evil 2 and 4.
Ada reveals that she is in the country to steal a sample of the Las Plagas parasite and has been trying to con the local government into given her a sample, all before fleeing mysteriously. Leon soon reunites with JD, but it turns out that he was infected with the parasite and Leon shoots him, but with a horde of infected individuals on his tale, can Leon survive long enough to escape the country and stop Ada from escaping with the sample, or will some new BOWs be the end?
So why not review the first animated Resident Evil movie instead?
I might still do before the end of this run of films leading up to halloween because the two aren’t linked in many ways at all really, they’re completely different, but I wanted to start with a film that I actually like, mainly because I’ve reviewed six horror films in this run and only one has got the approval stamp so far.
So let’s start with the obvious talking point and that is if it stays true to the canon of the series, including the characters, and yes, they definitely try and maintain canon with the rest of the franchise and they succeed.
Leon is my favourite character from the computer games and his personality is captured perfectly, unlike a certain other Resident Evil film that I won’t mention because of how diabolically shit it is, oh go on then Resident Evil Retribution. Oh, sorry, I deviated slightly. Yeah, the best part about Leon in the games that he seems like a no-nonsense kind guy, but then constantly comes out with one-liners and quips that bring you right back into his story if he is getting bored.
This is down in no small part to the voice acting of Matthew Mercer, the same vocalist the provides the voice for Leon in the games, and they have perfectly captured Leon’s essence in Damnation and it is a relatively smooth transfer for the character. All of the characters from the games that also appear in Damnation are voiced by the same voice actors/actresses, and this makes such an important difference as you have an automatic connection to the characters, and whilst this is meaningless to people who have no prior knowledge of Resident Evil, it means a lot to those who are already fans of the franchise.
Damnation has stuck to the canon exceptionally well, unlike the live-action films and that is so important to fans of the game. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a fan-service film, whereas the live-action are for those that have never played the game, but as a fan of the game I appreciated this effort far more than the live action films. The live actions films have made a poor job representing all of the characters from the games, such as Jill, Leon, Chris and many others that it doesn’t even feel like it’s canon, one of the many reasons that the live action films are poor.
It’s not all great though as the animation is sometimes clumsily executed. Various characters walk like they’re trying to desperately wait for a toilet break, and there are numerous times where the character is saying something and the mouth movement doesn’t even closely resemble what they’re trying to say. Obviously this is difficult in animation, but most other films at least get it reasonably close.
Other than that though, the film is relatively decent in terms of the look and the lickers in particular (below), look sublime, although they are also one of my other points of contention with Damnation.
Without trying to give too much away, the lickers have always been one of the most feared enemies within the Resident Evil franchise, especially in Resident Evil 5 in which you face a lot of them in a cramped area all at once, but in Damnation they are effectively relegated to being someone’s pet. If you’ve seen the live action Apocalypse film in the franchise, picture what they did to the Nemesis and it’s a pretty similar situation.
However, other than that and the slight issue with some of the animations, I don’t really have a bad word to say about the film. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s what films are about. Not everyone is going to watch a film and love it, especially films based on a computer game, but for me this is the second best Resident Evil film to be released (the first live action film is one of my guilty pleasures).
The film is definitely designed to be more of a fan service than a film that non-fans of the franchise will enjoy, however, I believe that there is enough there to keep those that are previously not fans of the franchise to enjoy.
Whilst the animation is careless at times, it is definitely a better addition to the Resident Evil canon that the live action films and for that I can forgive minor mistakes,
This isn’t an out and out horror film, but there are definitely numerous horror elements involved and I think that if you’re after a horror/mystery/action style film then you could do far, far worse.