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dawn of the dead Tag

Horror movies derive most of their power and enjoyment (you sicko) from a combination of novelty and surprise.The novelty: how the filmmakers will have this particular bad guy stalk and kill the good guys. The surprise: OHMYGODLOOKOUTBEHINDYOUDREWBARRYMORE! Nevertheless, because horror movies are eternally popular, Hollywood remakes

watchmen_ver91Thanks to last year’s Iron Man and Dark Knight, the age of the superhero as a legitimate and viable tale in the realm of cinema is now in full effect. The epic story of Watchmen continues the trend of anchoring such heroes in an entirely believable world.

This world isn’t exactly ours, however. Based on the 1986 best-selling graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (both this book and Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” helped raise storytelling for comics to the adult level and set in motion changes within the industry that are still felt today), the tale is set in an alternate 1985, where superheroes were once a part of everyday life–helping to win the Vietnam War and get Nixon elected to three terms in office–but have since been outlawed by the government. Most have retired, but a few, such as the enigmatic Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) continue to operate, while others such as the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup)–the only living being with actual superpowers–live and work at the behest of the U.S. government.

It is the Comedian’s murder, in fact, which opens the film…allowing for Rorschach–a brutal conspiracy freak with a penchant for killing criminals, in his view bringing them to justice–to begin doggedly investigating the case, which ultimately leads to a type of reunion for the Watchmen, some of whom, like Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) and Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) have been itching to find a reason to don their costumes once more.

Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008, Sony)
purchase this DVD (Amazon)

I have to say, I am pretty much the biggest fan of the Resident Evil games. From the moment I played the original version on Playstation 1, I was hooked, and have followed the adventures of Leon S. Kennedy, Ada Wong, Claire Redfield and all the various characters through the years, as they’ve tried to outlive the memory of the outbreak in Raccoon City, which turned the entire isolated community into flesh-eating zombies.

Although Resident Evil didn’t actually initiate the genre of game playing known as “survival horror” as is popularly thought, it did inspire the title, as well as such later iterations as Dino Crisis, Silent Hill and The Suffering, among others. It also spawned its own series of films, each meeting with a fair degree of financial success at the box office.

Now comes the first fully CG movie in the series, Resident Evil: Degeneration, from the game’s developer Capcom and Sony Pictures Entertainment(Japan). It received a release in Japan in actual theaters, and limited release stateside in New York and L.A. before hitting DVD shelves, and with damn good reason; as far as storyline and execution goes, this was a monumental waste of time, money and involvement on the part of everyone from the director on down to the janitor, on a par with the 2001 bomb Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

The story takes place seven years after the end of the game Resident Evil: Nemesis when the aforementioned Raccoon City was destroyed by a nuclear missile to contain the zombie outbreak. Claire Redfield (voiced by Alyson Court, who portrays the character in the games) is working for an environmental group which responds to bio-hazard outbreaks. She’s meeting a friend at the airport when an unexpected attack upon U.S. senator Ron Davis (Michael Sorich) by an infected man and the crash into the terminal of a plane full of diseased passengers instigates a new outbreak of flesh-hungry Undead. Sent in with a Special Response Team to save the survivors is special agent Leon S. Kennedy (Paul Mercier, who also plays Leon in the games), another Raccoon City escapee. After effecting an escape from the terminal however, Leon and Claire find that even greater dangers lie ahead, as an unnamed terrorist group threatens to unleash the T-Virus (which turns the living into zombies) upon every populated area in the U.S. if their demands aren’t met. The deadline: midnight, which leaves our heroes barely four hours to find and stop the terrorists before America turns into the land of the Undead…