Wednesday 24 August 2011

Saturday Morning Cartoons - E14 Style (Part 2)

Saturday Morning Cartoons. It was a staple of the weekend for many children, and those who didn’t have it will just have to live with the knowledge that their childhood, however awesome, wasn’t quite the peak of win. This said, at the core E14 is about never letting certain aspects of your childhood slip away. Earlier in the week, I gave you two hours of suggestions for cartoon awesomeness, but why not round it off with a full-lengther?

And I don't just mean me!

10:00-12:00 - Resident Evil: Degeneration

What better way to end your cartoon-fest than with a movie which combines video games, zombies and Japanese CG? That’s right, there’s something that does all three! Resident Evil: Degeneration is set in 2005. Umbrella Corporation is gone, but its effects on Raccoon City live on in world politics, and the minds of Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy. When Claire arrives at the airport to help some people on behalf of the aid organisation she now works for, the world’s worst fears are realised when an outbreak of zombification hits the airport. The outbreak has to be controlled, and Leon Kennedy is sent in. When the incident is rumoured to just be the beginning and the work of bio-terrorists, it’s up to Leon and Claire to save the day. I should totally write movie synopses, right?

I was filled with unease at the thought of an anime based on the game series, as generally the adaptations of video games tend not to be so effective in movie form. Indeed, I was sceptical that the anime form would be any kinder to video games, but thankfully this was not the case. I think spin-off storylines tend to help, as the strongest movie adaptations of video games do something a little bit different to the original source material. Ultimately, if you make a complete departure, the game fans won’t like it. If you make a shot-for-shot remake, the fans won’t like it. We’re a tough bunch to please, us video gamers, although Silent Hill FTW in any form. Except comic book, but that was more art style than source material.

Anyway, the premise of Degeneration is a strong one, and deals with the aftermath of the Raccoon City incident in a really good way, with an opening montage which shows the political fallout from the games. Umbrella is gone, and the new mega-corporation in town is WilPharma, but all of their moves are scrutinised at every turn by TerraSave, an organisation that helps out at chemical and biological warfare sites. The politics is kept to a minimum, which is nice, as often a lot of preaching can make it particularly difficult to sit through a movie. On a related subject, I watched The Hurt Locker the other day, and really appreciated the fact that despite the serious subject matter the movie didn’t spend a lot of time preaching about the futility of war and so on.

Anyway, the other thing that I was really impressed by when it came to this movie was how well the visuals hold up. From the disc box, I got the impression that it would be one of those movies which looks great in all the stills but looks shitty in motion. Thankfully, it’s not in the least bit applicable to this movie, and the visuals look amazing. The voice acting doesn’t hold up as much as the other features on this list, but you can’t have everything. On the plus side, they use some of the authentic voice actors for characters who appear in the series elsewhere, with Leon’s voice fitting absolutely perfectly. What’s more, the filmmakers have seen fit to make Leon’s character an absolute hard-faced motherfucker, which I’m all for. Who doesn’t love a military character who speaks only at the minimum required level of words to get his point across?

Claire’s a reasonably well-done character in this as well, but the strength of the story is mainly in its overall plot, which without containing a massive amount of twisting storyline still successfully manages to have a little dodgy dealing going on behind the scenes, and when you think you’ve got the plot completely figured out they throw in just enough to make you doubt what you have a handle on.

Alternatives - Dead Space: Downfall

A slightly shorter alternative this time around, but that just gives you more “advert” time (shiny, shiny….). This one deals with similar themes to Resident Evil: Degeneration, dealing specifically with the fate of the crew of the USG Ishimura which players explore in the original Dead Space video game.

Another anime done with a good artistic style, this one has more of a classic cartoon style visually, and so feels like a natural evolution of the cartoons which we grew up with. Naturally, there’s more swearing in this, and more adult themes, but that’s sort of the point, wouldn’t you say?

There you have it, you’ve got 4 hours of animated entertainment to keep you busy, and we’ve even given you alternatives in case you’ve seen our main recommendation. If you’ve seen both the main and the alternative, then congratulations: You’re fucked.

Presented to you in Rob Wade Vision- Follow Rob Wade on Twitter

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