During the New Year holidays I went to visit my girlfriend and her family down south. Our original plans to take a venetian style boat with kotatsus got rained out, so they decided it would be fun to go see a movie in 4D: Resident Evil (doesn't release stateside until January 27). Gulp. It was my first time doing 4D. I would never think of doing it on my own, but luckily her gracious parents paid. The sad part other than having to sit through a Resident Evil movie was that due to the nature of the moving chairs and whatnot, drinks and snacks were not permitted in the theater, even though the 4D seats had cup holders; figure that one out.
It's in my genes to eat popcorn with movies, so like a completely normal person I bought a bucket of popcorn and carried it around inside the mall where the theater was located while my girlfriend did shopping. Don't mind me, Mr. white guy walking around eating popcorn.
Anyway, it's time to go into the movie which was voiced in Japanese (often time western movies will have the option to watch in English with Japanese subtitles, but not on this special 4D showing). I had also not seen a movie in 3D for a long, long time. I think 3D is a dumb, useless gimmick, but technically I was pretty impressed how perfect it worked. I was playing a lot of my 3DS while on the trip so the sensation of trying to align two images to create the illusion for my naked eyes was fresh in my mind. Glasses are obviously the way to go for 3D, as it worked perfectly and immediately. Never did I feel uneasy or see two images. But for the movie viewing experience, the praise stops there.
4D sucks, full stop. I almost fell out of my chair numerous times and I could hardly focus on the film even if it was engaging. Even when nothing is happening the chairs perform 'the wave'. bobbing up and down, and will jolt along with sudden sound effects. There's just a few parts where water is sprinkled on you, but if you happen to be an alien from Signs there is a button next to your "no-drinks-allowed" cup-holder to turn the water off. If only you could turn the air jets off.
I call them jets, but whatever it is it shoots air at various points in the back of your head and it felt awful. It didn't hurt, itch, or even quite tickle but it's annoying as all hell and I found myself trying to avoid getting hit by it. This was used whenever our cardboard hero was getting attacked by a certain monster or shot at. In other words a large part of the movie.
This movie and probably the ones before it (I saw only the first two and this new one) were made for this 4D experience. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out, but you don't really intuitively get it until you experience it in 4D yourself much like how you know a burner is hot but you don't know just how hot until you touch it.That is not a recommendation; on the contrary, I recommend you not see this movie, in 4D or otherwise. Like how I preach that not all interactive media has to fit the classic definition of "game," not all visual media has to be story based film like we're used to. Every part of the movie seems to be made with 4D in mind: water spouting moments, 3D shots, car rattling to justify jostling the seats, any excuse to shoot the back of your head with air, etc. I'd be ok with them just making a thrill ride outside a theme park, but it needs to be shorter and better. One hour and 47 minutes is just too much popcorn-less seat shaking for there not to be a gripping story or good horror.
The movie itself, or whatever you want to define it as, doesn't have the horror of the games and instead goes for over the top action like the previous films. Shocker, I know. I don't have much to say about the actual plot, because there isn't much of one. It's just tropes and cliches blended together with scenes where Milla Jovovich beats the shit out of dudes or zombies. And explosions. While I didn't expect it to be good, after seeing clips of the gang at RedLetterMedia laughing their asses off at the ridiculousness of some scenes in the older movies, I was hopefully it would be at least "so dumb its funny". It's not; it's just loud and boring. Especially loud. There are a lot of jumps. Not jump scares, because there is no 'scare' or any sort of setup. They just suddenly RARR ZOMBIE out of nowhere. Several girls could be heard yelling at such moments, followed by jolly conversing, so it obviously works for people who want nothing more than that I suppose. Not to be an angry scrooge I just smiled and joked with my girlfriend and her parents, but having such screams and chatter in a Japanese theater was really surprising to me.
Since living here I have gone to see plenty of movies on or near release dates, recently including the two latest Star Wars movies, Cinderella, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Shallows, The Martian, Fast and Furious 7, and so on. Out of respect for fellow movie goers, not once has anyone ever made a peep. Not during scary moments, exciting moments, nostalgia, humorous moments, anything. With the direction of these movies and even the games for a short time, I think I discovered what general Japanese audiences want out of Resident Evil: less horror, more mindless explosions. Jeff Gerstmann might like this movie come to think of it.