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Resident Evil: Vendetta
Directed by Takanori Tsujimoto, whose live action credits include the Hard Revenge Milly films and Bushido Man, the 2017 animated feature Resident Evil: Vendetta, written by Makoto Fukami (who penned the Psycho Pass series), opens with a dramatic scene that does a really good job of setting up what is yet to come. In this scene we see a man about to be wed when a smart bomb is dropped from the sky, killing everyone in the wedding party except him. Well, it turns out that this guy is an arms dealer named Aries and that the bomb was dropped by the government. Arias (voiced by John DeMita) doesn't take kindly to this, and he wants revenge.
He decides that the best way to get this revenge would be to unleash some tankers onto the streets of New York City containing a nerve agent/gas of some sort that will turn anyone who breaths it in into zombies. To make this happen, he not only kidnaps Rebecca Chambers (voiced by Erin Cahill) but dresses her up in a wedding gown too! It seems her blood holds the key to making this work. Enter Chris Redfield (Kevin Dorman), a highly skilled solider who puts together a team to stop Arias and save Rebecca. Along for the ride? None other than hard drinking troublemaker Leon Kennedy (voiced by Matthew Mercer). Soon enough they're in a race against time to save not only Rebecca, but all of New York City as well, while Arias' unholy creations wreak havoc all over town…
That opening scene sure is dramatic! It works quite well actually. From there the movie gets fairly predictable, even formulaic in spots, but there's enough here to keep us moderately intrigued before the next action sequence kicks in. It's those action sequences that really steal the show, however. There are an amazing scene where Leon is chased down the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway by some of those zombie dogs that pop up now and again throughout the franchise that is remarkably impressive. When Chris and Leon make it into Arias' hideout and come face to face with the zombie hordes that stand between them and their target, the bullet play here is as well choreographed as anything out of a John Wick movie. The action is tight, tense and very bloody. Impressive stuff. If you won't leave this wowed by the story itself, at least the visuals and the carnage go a long way towards making up for it.
The voice actors used for the feature do solid work here, they never seem out of character or to far removed from the scene at hand. The computer animation and motion capture work used to bring the story to life is also really strong. There are times where the movements of the characters seem a little less than human and times where the eyes don't look as lifelike as you might hope they would but these instances are surprisingly few and far between. In fact, there are times where the animation is so good that at first glance, it almost looks real. This attention to detail is evident not just in the creatures and characters that populate the story but also in the backgrounds, the weapons, the vehicles and the costumes as well. It's quite an impressive looking movie, and it sounds just as good as it looks. The feature benefits from a strong instrumental score from Kenji Kawai (the same man who scored the original Ghost In The Shell) and from impressive sound design in terms of the effects that are used throughout the picture. Turn this one up when you watch it, for maximum effect.
Sony presents Resident Evil: Vendetta on UHD in an HEVC / H.265 transfer in 2160p framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. The HDR enabled disc, presented with Dolby Vision (which unfortunately my player doesn't support), looks very good even if there isn't a massive difference here between the 4k UHD disc and the included Blu-ray disc (which uses an AVC encoded 1080p transfer, also framed at 1.78.1). As you'd expect for a completely computer generated feature there's not a trace of damage or dirt to find, the image is spotless. There are no noticeable compression artifacts on the UHD at all and some scenes really exhibit some excellent depth (a shot with some candles on a table looks almost 3-D). Black levels are nice and colors are beautifully reproduced here (as you'd expect, this is the area where the UHD most obviously surpasses the Blu-ray disc), and this is in spite of the fact that large portions of the movie take place inside dreary looking labs and underground bunkers and what not. The only noticeable flaws detected during viewing was some minor banding in a few spots and some minor shimmering , but they key word there is minor. So while this isn't a massive leap forward for UHD over Blu-ray, the 4k transfer does offer some noticeable improvements in the areas you'd expect it to.
English audio options are offered up in 24-Bit Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 tracks with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are provided in Arabic, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Turkish.
If the Atmos track here isn't reference quality, it's damn close. The action scenes make excellent use of all surround channels (a great example is the scene involving the zombie dogs and the motorcycle chase on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) while bass response is really strong, managing to provide some serious low end rumble without burying the dialogue. As you'd hope, there's not a trace of hiss or distortion, the track is perfectly clean. There's very good depth and range evident throughout and the film's score sounds quite impressive. The nearly constant use of directional effects in the feature make this track really enjoyable and the quality of both the placement and the quality of the audio go a long way towards enhancing the viewing experience.
Removable subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Thai and Turkish.
Extras are spread across the three discs in the set as follows:
There's not much to talk about on the first disc, but we do get a still gallery and some sections dedicated to showcasing footage from different elements of the film (Leon Kennedy, Rebecca Chambers, Chris Redfield and Zombies).
Blu-ray Disc One:
This disc starts out with an audio commentary featuring director Takanori Tsujimoto, executive producer Takashi Shimizu and writer Makoto Fukami in which the three participants cover the origin of the script, how it ties into other RE storylines, where some of the ideas for the plot came from, some of the technology used in the film and quite a bit more. This gets pretty technical at times but if you want to know more about how and why the movie turned out the way that it did, this is for you. Like most of the extras on this release, it's in Japanese with English subtitles.
From there we move on to the featurettes starting with CGI To Reality, a two-part featurette that runs a combined twenty four minutes in length and that explores how the visuals for the feature were created. The first part, The Creature, explores how the monsters were designed and developed, while the second part, Designing Vendetta is a more general overview covering other visual elements. The eleven minute Motion Capture Set Tour With Dante Carver is just what it sounds like, a tour of the motion capture studio used for the production with an interesting explanation of how the technology works and how it was employed specifically for the feature at hand.
Outside of that there's a decent sized still gallery, a theatrical trailer, a teaser trailer and trailers for a few other Sony properties.
Blu-ray Disc Two:
The second disc includes a few more featurettes, starting with BSAA Mission Briefing: Combat Arias which is a five minute faux assignment briefing done to replicate what the characters in the story might have received themselves from their higher ups. It offers up information on most of the central characters in the feature. Designing The World Of Resident Evil: Vendetta is a quick four minute look at how the digital animation that was used to bring the story to life ties into the look of the film and how those behind the feature wanted to tie the storyline into previous features as well as some of the entries in the long running games series that started all of this. Lastly, we get thirteen minutes of Tokyo Game Show Footage from the 2016 expo where the team behind the making of the movie show off some footage from the movie and take some questions from the fairly enthusiastic crowd.
Menus and chapter stops are included on all three discs in the set. There's no digital download included here but this release does come packaged with a nice slipcover.
Resident Evil: Vendetta is a pretty solid entry in the franchise, offering up a mediocre story supplemented by plenty of action and a fair bit of horrific zombie mayhem. The UHD/Blu-ray combo pack release from Sony presents the movie in a very nice transfer with superb audio and a decent array of supplements to accompany the feature attraction. Not a great starting point for those new to this world, but for rans? Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.