By Tim Posada, 9/20/2012
“Resident Evil: Retribution”
The “Resident Evil” series is like the “Fast and Furious” franchise: it had a rocky start but after the third installment, they embrace their absurd nature and just let the spectacle overpower any semblance of narrativity.
Coincidently, Michelle Rodriguez sporadically appears in both universes. With that, let’s welcome “Resident Evil: Retribution” (lucky number five) with a fist pump to match the dub step rockin’, zombie chasin’, sci-fi, martial arts, dystopian horror thrilling identity crisis that makes us cheer for the real “Tomb Raider” (of a zombie future), Milla Jovovich, and forget to think for 90 minutes. It’s loud, it’s dumb, it’s shiny, and I’m ashamed to admit I kind of enjoyed it.
Say what you will about these asinine films, but they’re the most profitable video game adaptations yet. Not “Max Payne”, “Street Fighter”, “Mortal Kombat” or even “Prince of Persia” can claim the low brow yet steady blockbusting success of these sense-numbing action films. And in “Retribution”, the plotline has never been more, well, video game inspired. Alice (Jovovich) awakes in a facility run by the Umbrella Corp. –– that obnoxious big business that (accidentally?) unleashed the T-Virus onto the world, turning its citizens into an unlively mix of flesh-eating zombies and raunchy big bosses that make Spielberg’s dinosaurs look like shih tzus, in both beauty and strength.
With the help of former Umbrella agent Aga Wong (Bingbing Li) and several new faces, Alice and Co., including Part Four returner Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), move through the enormous underground research facility’s simulated environments of Tokyo, Moscow and the burbs –– sounds like video game levels complete with one unique nemesis per map. But adding nostalgia to injury, Alice must face the villainous clones of her deceased friends: Carlos (Oded Fehr from Part Two and Three), One (Colin Salmon from Part One) and Rain (Rodriguez from Part One), along with a brainwashed Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory from Part Two) leading the pursuit.
Live or die, anything’s possible in this universe, especially with so many actors who just need a paycheck. But even if these movies never reach further than half-mast, they’re still better than “Transformers” and all its even more idiotic minions. Sure, I’d love it if they chose better actors (though at least Rodriguez and Jovovich get us part way there), but the action scenes were fun enough — even if the machine gun usage felt rather repetitive (apparently, nobody takes cover) — and the visual effects are rather colorful.
“For a Good Time, Call…”
Meet Lauren (Lauren Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor), two roommates who found an unexpected way to patch up their disdain for each other and start a 900 number business. While films like “I Love You, Man” feature the “bromance”, “For a Good Time, Call…” is a special kind of raunch-comedy about two heterosexual women who love each other –– the “hoemance” as it’s unfortunately referred to.
Lauren is as uptight as they come, and after losing her boyfriend (James Wolk) of two years and her job in a matter of days, she falls to a new low when she’s forced to move in with Katie, a wild child who accidentally urinated on her several years earlier. Bad blood lingers between the two until Lauren discovers that one of Katie’s jobs includes talking dirty to anyone who’ll listen. With Lauren’s business savvy mind and Katie’s descriptive vocabulary, they decide to start their very own hotline rodeo under the name 1-900-mmm-hmmm. Within a few weeks, the real cash starts coming, the friendship unfolds and Lauren decides to expand her resumé by filling the position of caller number two.
“For a Good Time, Call…” is about as indie a film as they come, but it manages to hit at the crass beats that other female-leading comedies back away from. “Good Time” is far more memorable than most comedies, especially the sad few of late, and proves big screen up-and-comers, Miller and Graynor, know how to keep the laughs coming.
This one features a fantastic array of supporting performances, including some hilarious cameos (you’ll just have to see to find out who). Justin Long steals the show as Jesse, Lauren and Katie’s incredibly flamboyant mutual friend, who enjoys petting his tiny dog like a James Bond villain.
Like any crass comedy, the protagonists’ relationship begins to improve and new problems form along the way, but the power of female friendship guides this laugh-house of a comedy that proves bridesmaids and superbad bros don’t own that splendid world of sex jokes. This is far from a family comedy, but if you need some R-rated laughs, you won’t find a more appropriate film next to the crass greats.