Resident Evil: Vendetta - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
- Street Date:
- July 18th, 2017
- Reviewed by:
- Matthew Hartman
- Review Date: 1
- July 17th, 2017
- Movie Release Year:
- 97 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review appear in our coverage of Resident Evil: Vendetta on Blu-ray, also written by Matthew Hartman. Both reviews feature the same Movie Itself, Audio, & Special Features sections, while Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts are unique to each.
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
It's a weird occurrence to have two tangent film series launch outward from a single franchise. I don't mean in terms of the modern shared universes that Hollywood is running and gunning into theaters. I mean in terms of having two series of films running parallel to each other without coexisting. The Resident Evil franchise, with its hyperkinetic live action films from Paul W.S. Anderson that recently wrapped up with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, also enjoys a series of direct to video CGI animated movies. Somehow, these two series have remained successful without cannibalizing each other. The animated adventures of humans versus diabolical corporations unleashing the undead continues with Resident Evil: Vendetta. While being a better film than what's come from its live action counterparts in recent years, this animated series is starting to show signs of story fatigue.
The Umbrella Corporation may have been destroyed, but the technology to reanimate the dead into bioweapons continues to be a profitable venture (how?). International arms dealer Glenn Arias (voiced by John DeMita) has capitalized on these illegal but highly lucrative weapons. After a drone strike fails to kill him but instead wipes out his entire family, Arias isn't in the game for profit - but for revenge. With a new means to spread the virus and actually control the hoards of undead zombies and grotesque monsters, it's up to the brilliant biochemist Rebecca Chambers (voiced by Erin Cahill), BSAA operative Chris Redfield (voiced by Kevin Dorman), and former Raccoon City police officer Leon Kennedy (voiced by Matthew Mercer) to find a cure and stop the total annihilation of New York City.
Where this animated series of Resident Evil adventures fall is somewhere along the lines of the story contained in the fourth, fifth, and sixth video games from Capcom. If you've seen Resident Evil: Degeneration or Resident Evil: Damnation, you already have the sense that these films play more like prolonged story scenes from the games without any accompanying gameplay. The animation is decent enough, the voice acting is still very stilted but in that charming way it always has been throughout the games. It gets the job done. Some good frights, some zombies, plenty of blood, guts, and bullets can be found in each of these flicks and Resident Evil: Vendetta provides more of the same while laying the ground work for some new adventures.
I enjoyed the plot line here quite a bit. Rather than the primary villain being some corporation with a very stupid idea for how to expand profit margins and appease shareholders, a singular enemy out for revenge against those who wronged him makes for a pretty fearsome foe. Given the universe this series resides, you can forgive the fact that he's also some sort of biochemical genius with expert kung-fu skills; he's at least motivated. Subsequently, our heroes' mission to stop his plot feels all the more urgent because they have a goal and a destination. It's honestly a bit of fresh air rather than the movies always being "the evil corporations out for profit" as the bad guy. After awhile, that plot device just starts to sound like you're stuck overhearing a conversation between two hipsters in the organic food aisle. I did enjoy the new thread this animated series struck out for, but at the same time, the action and character beats are starting to go a bit stale.
The problem with this animated Resident Evil universe is the same one that struck the live action series; there's very little reason for them to exist after awhile. As they've managed to pick through their signature bad guys and monsters from the games, Vendetta is stuck with introducing a new bad guy and a new monster while also finding a reason to bring together three famous characters from the game in an effort to save the world from destruction… again. While I would say this is actually a very enjoyable movie, it's not altogether satisfying as it continues the familiar path of over the top impossible action with grotesque improbable monsters that ran the sixth entry in the video game series to the ground. Similarly to how Resident Evil Biohazard reinvented the games and returned the series to its survival horror roots, these movies - live action and animated alike - need to go back to basics and just focus on scaring the crap out of people and then think about action.
It's fun watching animated versions of your favorite characters fight these creepy zombies and gigantic tumorous creatures rampaging across a major metropolitan city, one can only keep their brain turned off for so long. Part of the problem is that while unrelated to each other, the animated movies and the live action Resident Evil films gun for the same sort of high-flying over the top action/horror carnage. Aside from their plots veering off into wildly different directions, there's actually very little to distinguish one from the other. That's what's holding this series back. Resident Evil: Vendetta is a pretty entertaining and enjoyable ride if you're a longtime fan of the games, but even then, I'd rather be playing said game. After awhile this movie starts to feel like you're watching your best friend play the game on a speed run and not give you a turn at the controller.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Resident Evil: Vendetta arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures in a three-disc set. Pressed onto a Region Free UHD66 disc, the 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and Bonus Disc are housed in a sturdy black 3-disc UHD case with identical slipcover artwork. The 4K UHD disc loads directly to Sony's standard static image main menu.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
EDITOR'S NOTE: while Resident Evil: Vendetta arrives on 4K UHD in Dolby Vision (as well as HDR10 for those who don't have Vision-enabled gear), Matthew is still waiting for LG to update his UP970 4K UHD Blu-ray player's firmware. As soon as that happens, he'll update this review and share his thoughts on the player in a separate review. Hopefully very soon. Stay tuned!
As it stands, Vendetta appears a bit better in 4K/HDR10 than its 1080p counterpart. The added resolution gives the image a bit more detail material to work with and allows character renders to enjoy more facial features, individual hairs become more visible. Costuming and creature details are also enhanced. However, the flip side to this benefit comes at the expense of a sense of weight. With the added resolution, characters and objects and how they interact can look even more out of place and unnatural than in the 1080p presentation. When a character drinks from a glass or when a zombie lurches out towards the screen, it feels like it should be viewed with a set of VR glasses rather than on a television screen. But that is my only real gripe with this 4K UHD presentation.
With the HDR10 default working, the wider color gamut has a nice balance and presence. Primaries have a rich pop and blood now has some shades of red to it - depending on how dry and disgusting it needs to be. The big bad climax monster is especially impressive with the various colors and details now in their full glory. Flesh tone renders now have some pigmentation to them that wasn't overly visible on the standard Blu-ray. Rebecca Chambers, in particular, shows some natural looking freckles to her skin, Leon and Chis also enjoy a healthy uptick in pigmentation detail and coloration. The digital grain added also appears more even without becoming overly noisy or pixelated. At the end of the day, the 4K UHD is a clear improvement of an imperfect product. Even with the limited budget, this is a solid looking release.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Resident Evil: Vendetta enjoys a strong Dolby Atmos mix that makes some good subtle uses of the directional channels. The opening rescue mission is a great example of how well silence and slight creaks on wood steps or furniture can play on an Atmos mix. There's a part where a clock chimes the hour that provides a great jump scare and another bit with a remote controlled truck that is very effective just before some zombies attack our heroes. Where this track works best is in the quiet silent moments as you really can hear the angled channels provide some above space - when Rebecca's lab is attacked, the mix makes solid use of that bit as well. When the film goes full action carnage, things, unfortunately, start to sound a bit squashed together. While some separation remains, voices, gunfire, monsters, music, all kind of smash together in one big lump and can be a bit off putting. After these wow loud moments, dialogue also can sound a bit flat and require you to hit the volume just a bit to hear what's being said. Otherwise, the dialogue is clear throughout. All around this is a very good mix and plays well with the film, it could have just used a little creative finesse to play to the full strengths of the technology.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Resident Evil: Vendetta comes packed with a solid bonus feature package including a great audio commentary track, making of features, and behind the scenes materials. The content covering the animation process and how they brought the character designs to live is particularly interesting stuff. All bonus features content is found on the standard Blu-ray disc and the included bonus disc.
CGI to Reality (HD 24:05) In Japanese with English Subtitles, this featurette has interviews with the creative team and how they approached the creature designs, textures, and animating them together.
Motion Capture Set Tour (HD 11:03) Hosted by Dante Carver, this is a pretty cool look at the behind the scenes work that went into giving the characters more human and life-like animation.
Theatrical Trailer (HD 1:38)
Teaser Trailer (HD 1:40)
BSAA Mission Briefing: Combat Arias (HD 5:06) This works more along the line of a collection of character bios.
Designing The World of Vendetta (HD 3:31) This is a very brief look at the design of locations as an homage to various episodes and incidents seen through the various games.
Tokyo Game Show Footage (HD 13:06) In Japanese with English Subtitles. This is a quick look at what was seen at the video game convention with the creative team talking about the project which leads into the teaser trailer.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
If you're a fan of the Resident Evil games and enjoyed the previous CGI animated movies, you should have a great time with Resident Evil: Vendetta. As these animated movies have held together a bit better than their live action counterparts, I would say that the over-the-top nature of these movies is starting to wear a bit thin. It still works, but as the series moves away from horror and focuses more on the big action spectacles its starting to lose its freshness. Sony Pictures has done a great job releasing this film on 4K UHD Blu-ray in this three-disc set. The added resolution and enhanced color pallet look terrific and the Atmos mix is a nice fit for the world of Resident Evil. Add in a good collection of bonus features and you've got a great package for fans to enjoy. Recommended.
- 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Bonus Disc
- 2160p HEVC/H.265
- Dolby Atmos
- English SDH
- Three Featurettes
- Still gallery (30 sketches/designs)
- Filmmaker Audio Commentary (in Japanese) with Director Takanori Tsujimoto, Executive Producer Takashi Shimizu and Writer Makoto Fukami
- BONUS DISC with three featurettes
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