Reel Critics: 'Resident Evil' keeps features that made it popular

"Resident Evil: Retribution" is the fifth movie in a very successful franchise that began as a series of apocalyptic Japanese video games. The surreal sci-fi adventure blends "Aliens" and "The Matrix" with "Blade Runner" overtones. For good measure, thousands of flesh eating zombies are added to the mix to chase down the remaining humans on Earth in a climatic battle of survival.

Milla Jovovich reprises her role as the buffed heroine in black latex who battles the evil hordes. Michelle Rodriguez plays her nemesis controlled by a renegade computer system bent on destroying mankind. Together with their many allies, they engage in bloody combat that results in non-stop murder, mayhem and screeching chase scenes.

The violence is casual and ruthless. It's all loud and merciless at a frenzied pace. You'll like this film only if you are fan of this head pounding action. But as total film revenues head for the $1-billion mark, you can bet there will be more examples of this format in our cinematic future.


Gere makes greed look good

There is a moment early on in "Arbitrage" where we see the tony New York home of Robert Miller (Richard Gere), a mega-wealthy hedge fund manager. The house is tasteful and quiet but for stories-tall crystal chandelier at its core, glittering cold and expensive. Just like Miller himself.

"Arbitrage" is an impressive financial thriller that borrows from the recent Bernie Madoff scandal — here is a man admired by the world for his business savvy, hiding the fact that he's far from being as successful and honest as he appears. Sex and money may well be his downfall.

It is a paradox of Gere's charming, self-assured persona that we find ourselves admiring this silver-haired member of the 1% club even as he reveals himself to be a diamond-hard, smiling monster who "flies on princely wings."

As Miller's fate seems more and more destined for scandals and certain imprisonment, we want to see him caught, yet we want to see him get away with it. That's the mark of a great performance and a good movie — it keeps you involved.

Susan Sarandon is terrific as Miller's wife, as is Tim Roth as a doggedly determined police detective.

While "Arbitrage" is tense fun, wouldn't it be a better film if it didn't make greed look this sexy?

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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