Considering the downgrade in quality that the “Resident Evil” film franchise has experienced with each successive installment, it isn’t entirely surprising that the latest movie based on the popular survival horror game has been given the direct-to-DVD treatment. Granted, “Resident Evil: Degeneration” isn’t associated with the live-action films, so it’s probably better not to compare the two. For starters, this “Resident Evil” adventure could very well be considered official canon, as it reunites series favorites Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield to fight back against a terrorist-controlled zombie attack at the Harvardville Airport. When the leader of the terrorist group injects himself with the unstable G-Virus, however, a new monster is unleashed that must be stopped before the infection spreads any more. Filmed entirely in CG with the same methods used for “Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within,” “Resident Evil: Degeneration” looks like one, long video game cutscene – which is fitting, since it’s intended more for fans of the game than the movies. Those same fans will no doubt love “Degeneration” for the same reason they love the games, but while watching Leon and Claire blast through waves of zombies is a nice distraction until the release of “Resident Evil 5,” it’s still not as fun as doing it yourself.
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Based on the popular RPG video game franchise of the same name, “Tales of Phantasia” is essentially a two-hour, animated re-telling of the first title in the series. Originally released a year ago by Geneon, the full-length feature tells the tale of six survivors who band together to fight against an evil warlord known as Dhaos the Demon King when he’s released from captivity by a power hungry conqueror. In order to stop him from unleashing darkness throughout the land of Midgard, a young warrior and a beautiful cleric must travel back in time to recruit the help of a witch, a summoner, and a ninja to bring back to present day, while their archer friend Chester holds Dhaos off on his own. When Dhaos runs off to wreak havoc in the future, however, the band of heroes must follow him through space and time and put an end to his destruction before it’s too late.
Though the animation is sharp and the characters themselves are cool, “Tales of Phantasia” is executed very poorly. Because it’s based on an RPG (which are typically loaded with more plot than the average video game), the story has a tendency to jump around a lot without any explanation. This is done, of course, so that the creators can cram the entire story into one movie, but it doesn’t work as well as they think. As soon as Cress and Mint travel back in time, only to be immediately thrust into a giant battle where everybody already knows why they’re there, the audience loses interest in what’s going on. The same can be said of the characters, who are nothing more than tools to progress the story. It’s too bad that the original producers of the movie didn’t expand the story into an entire season, because “Tales of Phantasia” definitely deserves more attention than it received. As it stands, this is for diehard fans only.
Click to buy “Tales of Phantasia”