As the snow falls steadily somewhere in Russia, I watch Alice (Milla Jovovich), Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Luther (Boris Kodjoe) exit a vehicle called the Spryte. It’s been flipped on its side on a thick patch of ice because of an Umbrella submarine that’s come up through the ice. As our heroes climb down from the door to get their footing and prepare their weapons, nearby I see the massive Umbrella submarine that’s come up through the ice. As our heroes get ready, Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and “Bad Rain” (Michelle Rodriguez) escort their prisoner Ada Wong (Li BingBing) from the exit door of the Umbrella sub. Both groups see each other. Then, without warning, “Bad Rain” shoots something into her neck and hits Ada Wong with the back of her gun and she falls to the ice. As this happens, Jill Valentine and Alice run towards each other and start to fight. Welcome to the set of Resident Evil: Retribution.
But let me back up a second.
As I type these words, it’s December 14, 2011 and I’m flying back to Los Angeles from Toronto. While I was in the great Canadian city yesterday, I got to spend all day on the set of the 5th Resident Evil movie with a number of other reporters and learned a lot about what’s probably the second-to-last installment of the very successful franchise. For more on the visit, hit the jump.
First off, here’s the teaser trailer for the film that was just release:
Before going any further, spoilers are discussed. You’ve been warned.
- The fifth installment is more of a chase movie that the previous films and it’s more realistic. It’s also being filmed in 3D like the last one and they’re filming in 4K.
- The movie opens where the last film ended which was on the deck of the Arcadia ship.
- There are three different types of zombies: the newly created undead, the Russians – Las Plagas, and the zombies in Tokyo. Some are called lickers (which are all CGI). Everything is enhanced with the Russian zombies, and their actions are almost super-human.
- There are more zombies this time around except they’re in smaller groups.
- Makeup Effects Supervisor Paul Jones wanted the makeup on the zombies to look realistic. He took inspiration from Day of the Dead.
- There was talk of doing Resident Evil 5 and 6 back to back but ultimately they decided shoot the fifth film by itself. However, Paul W.S. Anderson has a rough idea for the 6th film and he sees it as the finale of the series. (Of course if the movies keep making tons of money, then who knows if the studio will let it end). He also already knows where the final Umbrella location will be in the 6th movie but wouldn’t reveal it.
- Nick Powell is doing the second unit direction and he’s also the stunt coordinator. He’s a real “get” for the production as his previous credits include Braveheart, The Bourne Identity, Goldeneye, and a number of other huge productions. He’s designed some awesome action set pieces and should help to make the fifth Resident Evil look incredible.
- For fans of the series, the opening paragraph revealed that some previously killed characters have come back from the dead. This is a result of Umbrella and cloning. As a result of being brought back by Umbrella, Jill Valentine is wearing a red scarab on her chest (seen in previous films) and she’s under their control. Also, “Bad Rain” injects herself with the Las Plagas parasites and this gives her superhuman powers. During our interview with Michelle Rodriguez she made a statement that she can now eat bullets. We were not sure if that was a joke or if she really can now eat bullets.
- At some point in the film, we’ll see a flashback to before the Umbrella virus destroyed the world. During the flashback we’ll see Michelle Rodriguez wearing heels, without guns, and driving a Pruis. She’ll look and act unlike anything we’ve ever seen her do in any movie. In addition, we’ll see Carlos Oliveira (Oded Fehr) as a dad in suburbia. It’ll be a stark contrast to how we’ve seen them in the previous films.
- The fifth Resident Evil will see women fighting women. Based on the costumes I saw yesterday, this is a very good thing.
- The big fight scene between Alice and Jill on the ice somewhere in Russia originally had 200 moves. However, the production is running behind and the final number might be cut down.
- Some of the second unit went to Red Square in Moscow and filmed for a day while certain areas were shut down. They also filmed in a Russian subway. They are going to use what they shot as the basis for plate shots since a huge action scene takes place in Moscow. The production actually shot the action on Toronto soundstages but by using the plates shot on location, it will look like they really shot on in Moscow.
- The Moscow action scene is probably the biggest of the film. It takes place at night and features a Rolls Royce filled with our heroes who are being chased by Las Plagas zombies on motorcycles. It ends up the virus has mutated and the zombies now have motor functions and can now not only drive motorcycles but they can also fire semi automatic machine guns. While it sounds crazy, it will definitely be unlike any zombie chase scene ever done on a movie screen.
- Resident Evil: Retribution takes place in New York, Tokyo, Moscow and Washington D.C. The movies do big business around the world so they wanted a more global feel to the film.
- According to producer Jeremy Bolt, the franchise is “within sight of the end.” He went on to say that the 5th installment is the most “science fiction-y” of the franchise and it has the most action. Bolt went on to say that he could see a Resident Evil spinoff movie based on a character from the franchise. He did not say which character.
- Alice develops a mother-daughter relationship with Becky (Aryana Engineer) in the film. However, before you start to wonder if she’s really her daughter, Jovovich told us it’s more like the relationship between Ripley and Newt in Aliens. She went on to say the relationship is a way for Alice to hold onto her humanity.
- The producers say the budget has gone up on every Resident Evil film.
- Milla Jovovich (Alice) has two big fight scenes in the film and one is over ten minutes. Of course that could change in editing. In addition, Boris Kodjoe (Luther) fights against eight people at the same time and Michelle Rodriguez has a fight scene with over seventy moves.
- While the video game features a love story between Ada Wong and Leon, don’t expect to see it in the movie.
- Paul W.S. Anderson says the 4th film (Afterlife) started a new trilogy and he sees the sixth film as the series finale. He also really wanted to direct the second and third Resident Evil films but had other commitments. He’s very happy to be back directing the 5th installment.
- While I won’t reveal how I know this bit of info….if they make a 6th Resident Evil movie, I’m extremely confident Becky plays a big role.
- I asked Li BingBing (Ada Wong) about cutting her hair to look the part. Sitting next to her, it looked real. However, Bing revealed that she’s actually wearing a very expensive wig that cost about $7,500 dollars. She went on to tell us she was offered the role only days after auditioning and she had never fired a gun until she arrived on set.
- Anderson relied heavily on the video games for inspiration for Retribution, just as they did with the previous films.
- They’re basing an action set-piece from the fifth video game where the characters are driving in a Hummer while being chased by zombies. Anderson changed the vehicle to a Rolls Royce Phantom.
- When decided which new characters to include in Retribution, Anderson and Milla Jovovich listened to the fanbase. They settled on adding Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong, and Barry Burton, who they felt where the three fan-favorites that the film franchise had yet to touch on.
- When casting for the new characters, they tried their best to get people that looked as much like the game characters as possible.
- When Anderson signed on for the first film, he flew to Osaka and spent three days at Capcom explaining his vision and having a dialogue with the game creators.
- Anderson says the relationship between the films and Capcom is symbiotic. They look at the scripts and give notes, and sometimes the Anderson and the people working on the film franchise will change things because of the comments.
If you’re a fan of the Resident Evil movies and/or video games, the fifth installment looks to be the biggest and most action orientated of the series. It’s also got a number of characters from the video games, which should please the fans.
While the series will never win any year end awards, I think Retribution should be a fun popcorn movie and I’m definitely looking forward to the Red Square Rolls Royce action scene. After all, who doesn’t want to see zombies with machine guns on motorcycles? Resident Evil: Retribution hits theaters September 14th.
For more on Resident Evil: Retribution: