- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fans of arguably the most popular survival horror video game in the history of the medium can appreciate the ultra high-definition exploits of some legacy characters and living dead mutations in Resident Evil: Vendetta (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, 97 minutes, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $34.99).

Expanding the mythology of Capcom’s zombie franchise through a gorgeous, computer-animated presentation, director Takanori Tsujimoto wastes little time diving into a world where the Umbrella Corp.’s variety of viral concoctions continue to infect citizens, turning them into flesh-eating ghouls and monsters.

The story, occurring between the “Resident Evil 6” and “Resident Evil 7” game timeline, expands to introduce a black market, bio-organic weapons dealer named Glenn Arias out for revenge against the U.S. government after it targeted his wedding with a smart bomb.

With help from bodyguards Diego (a mutated behemoth that looks like the comic book version of Batman’s nemesis Bane) and the brute’s daughter Maria (dressed in tight black leather and heels and ready for a Goth party), he spreads the complex A-Virus to create an army of controllable versions of the living dead.

Out to stop him are key members of the BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance) team led by Chris Redfield who assemble and first confront him in an mansion eerily similar to one found in the original “Resident Evil” game.

After a disastrous first encounter, the remaining team members go on a perilous manhunt for the villain, getting help from former Raccoon City Police Department members Leon S. Kennedy and scientist Rebecca Chambers, who may have found the cure for his spreading plague.

What follows is an ever-intense, full-screen, roller-coater ride of gore and jump scares not limited to watching soldiers walk through a razor-sharp, wire-strand web that cuts through flesh and bone; a motorcycle chase with a couple of cereberus (undead Dobermans); and Diego using a massive machine gun that rips the arm off of an already bullet-riddled waitress.

Chris and Leon also have a stunning close-quarters combat scene with a horde of zombies, and an over-the-shoulder sequence with Chris looks exactly like I am playing the video game, a very cool touch by Mr. Tsujimoto.

Despite the grotesque fun, spoiler alert, I was disappointed by the lack of screen time for Diego and Maria. Although Diego ultimately becomes the a key to the action, Maria never gets to show off her powers and spends too much time simply sporting an icy-cold stare.

4K UHD in action: The ultra high-definition digital transfer upscales from the reportedly original 2K source material to offer only minor upgrades to clarity and color.

I was able to appreciate the detail to candle flames, a coffee cup with cardboard band, plastic water bottle, dimples on leather, metal-tipped gloves, and stones on road pavement to name a few items with near equal quality on Blu-ray and 4K formats.

The character animation is often lifelike with Chris’ arm hair and bulging veins, Rebecca’s slightly chapped lips, Leon’s waving hair and the entire cast’s glistening, always focused eyeballs (noticeable to a slight distraction) as well as intricate blood splatters from the terminated infected standing out.

Ultimately, fans need not upgrade and will be thrilled with the 1080p, Blu-ray version of the film.

Best extras: Viewers will learn plenty about the world of computer animation and “Resident Evil” with a compact but potent supply of bonus content.

First, a two-part, 24-minute-long look at the animation and production process is split between examining the final boss battle and key action scenes. All of the major crew members offer insight (English subtitled) including interviews with the director, senior asset supervisor, layout supervisor, senior animation supervisor and character FX supervisor.

Viewers are briefly walked through the work-flow process, one step at a time, that covers concepts, modeling, layout, animation, simulation and lighting.

The segments offer examples of live-action storyboards, motion-capture sessions, the animation of moving hair movement and splintering wood, digitally building a realistic Ducati XDiaval motorcycle, and how characters facial features changed during the film.

Next, an optional, English-subtitled commentary track with the director, executive producer Takashi Shimizu and writer Makoto Fukami is more fun than informative. I have no idea who is talking during the frenetic, Japanese gabfest, but they are really enjoying hanging out together with plenty of laughs.

When they get specific, the group covers topics such as creating a story faithful to the “Resident Evil” game canon (unlike the live-action movies); character personalities; the obsession with recreating exact replicas of guns digitally (a serious endeavor); the horror elements; portraying a zombie child; the length of the opening, action-packed scene; and budget challenges.

Also, actor Dante Carver (the motion-capture model of the character D.C.) offers an informative, 11-minute tour of Imagica Studios in Japan. He shows off some of the behind-the-scenes computer technology for “Vendetta” as well as interrupts a motion-capture session and interviews the director and Reuben Langdon (the motion-capture model of Chris Redfield).

Owners also get a bonus Blu-ray disc with a few more extras.

Most informative of the bunch is a 5-minute video encyclopedia briefing on the “Vendetta” mission that covers biographies on the main villains and agents of the Silver Dagger team. It includes great nuggets on the Tyrant class, bio weapon brute Diego who, I now know, uses a M134 minigun.

Also, the disc includes 13 minutes of English-subtitled footage from the 2016 Tokyo Game Show featuring a discussion with Mr. Tsujimoto, Mr. Shimizu and producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi and 3.5 minutes of promotional interviews with the same three guys.

OK, not much of a packed bonus disc, but fans will appreciate the effort.

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