Resident Evil: Damnation infects Region Free UK Blu-ray a day before its US counterpart, boasting what looks to be the same decent 1080p High Definition video in the CG animated feature’s aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. It’s a fine presentation, never really edging into demo quality territory in spite of the impressive CG, but still remaining oftentimes very pleasant to behold. Still limited by the animated style, there’s still been a distinct technological progression since the last instalment, and here we get some beautiful little touches that remind you that there is a hell of a lot that they can get right in animation, even if it’s still far from perfect. Banding, aliasing and some edge enhancement still prevail despite the best efforts of both the production animators and the authoring Studio, but, again, they are still working within the restrictions of this kind of material. On the plus side the finer details stand out: the light 5 O’clock shadow over Leon’s chin; the slight blush to Ada’s cheeks; the fine lines that betray the President’s age – it’s all impressive. Landscapes showcase some gorgeous attention to detail (for the most part) and some of the shots are edging in the direction of photo-realistic, even if it’s often clever lighting (including lens flares!) which makes this possible. The colour scheme is initially suitably dour, to reflect the setting, but blood is a dark and realistic crimson and black levels allow for excellent shadowing, making the ‘jump’ moments all the more effective. But then we do get some excellent daytime sequences, including veritably fiery explosions, and a broad-daylight closing confrontation that looks consistently punchy. There’s even some 3D pop to speak of, the depth making you only further yearn for the impact of the original 3D presentation. Not demo quality, but not that far off.
On the aural front we get a veritably engaging DTS-HD Master Audio track that also likely matches up to its US counterpart, providing a welcome accompaniment to the proceedings. Dialogue emanates largely from across the frontal array, coming across clearly and coherently throughout; effects are myriad – the war-torn battlefield providing an engaging backdrop and also making for the source to many of these elements: artillery thundering in the distance; relentless machine-gun fire; aerial bombs; handgun, SMG and assault rifle blasts; and numerous explosions. That’s not to even mention the zombie-related effects, from the slithering, snapping Lickers to the violently aggressive Plagas – and the super-sized undertakers whose very footsteps will send tremors through your very living room. Surrounds get an excellent workout, with a soundstage that has some quality sound design and offers up noteworthy directionality and rear action. The LFE channel provides heady accompaniment and, with a fairly expectedly excited score to give your speakers yet more material to play with, this is a noisy, engaging offering that doesn’t quite have the subtlety and refinement to make for demo material, but comes very close.
Although not packed to the brim with extra features, there are a few nice offerings which allow you further insight into the making of this feature.
The DNA of Damnation is a half-hour Making-of Featurette (in Japanese with English subtitles) which looks behind the scenes at the original concept, the surrounding game chapters and earlier prequel; further detailing the story they came up with, the character intentions; and the style and tone of the piece, especially as crafted digitally.
Las Plagas: Organisms of War is a nice little background offering, which spends 7 minutes exploring – in character – the Las Plagas mutation.
Rounding out the disc we have a 6-minute Gag Reel (obviously voice bloopers), a few Trailers and a Conceptual Art Gallery that showcases some sketches from the early stages of the production.
Long-term fans of the Resident Evil videogames have been less than impressed by the cinematic adaptations championed by Paul W.S. Anderson and, with the latest film – Resident Evil: Retribution – just around the corner, it seems like the original game Studios are determined to set the record straight and redress the balance just prior to the release of the latest game, Resident Evil 6. Resident Evil: Damnation is a preceding companion-piece to the sixth game, acting much like the earlier Resident Evil: Degeneration did for the previous game, Resident Evil 5. Again following the character of Leon S. Kennedy, we this time find ourselves in a wartorn East European state, where rebels are rising up against the oppressive government and using whatever it takes to tip the scales in their favour – even Bio-Organic Weapons.
If you enjoyed the games then Damnation is a nice canonical addition to the Resident Evil universe. Although constrained by the general format of these sorts of stories, and further limited by the videogame-cut-scene-style that they still largely look like, Damnation is a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin kind of entry, which offers all the requisite contrived plot, shifty characters and bloody action to keep you entertained.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray, a day in advance of the US counterpart, Resident Evil: Damnation presents itself with very good video and audio as well as a few nice extras to round off the disc. Perhaps some will regard this as little more than a throwaway filler, but those anticipating Resident Evil 6 will still want to check it out (and could probably stand to add a further point to the movie score). I’m not sure whether it will necessary attract all that many complete newcomers, but the motion-capture CG certainly will impress if you do, and it’s certainly never less than engaging for its 100-minute duration.
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