Paul W.S. Anderson Talks Resident Evil Retribution

Paul W.S. Anderson Talks Resident Evil Retribution, on 3D Blu-ray and DVD today!

The fifth film in the Resident Evil franchise, Resident Evil: Retribution, arrives on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD today. To celebrate this latest entry in the longstanding series based on the classic video game, we caught up with director Paul W.S. Anderson, who returns for his 3rd time behind the camera and his fifth time as a producer.

Why does he keep coming back? And what does the sixth film have in store for us? Here is our conversation.

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What keeps brining you back to this franchise?

Paul W.S. Anderson: I love it!

That's the easy answer, isn't it?

Paul W.S. Anderson: I have always loved it. I loved the video game, from the start. I played the first two before I became involved in the movie. It took me a few weeks to emerge from my apartment, to bathe. I came out with these crazed eyes, and I was obsessed with making this into a movie. I loved the game. And I loved what the game was based upon. It was based on this love for George A. Romero movies, and the John Carpenter films, which are all movies I grew up with, loving. It was a no brainer for me to get involved in the franchise. Also, there was this idea...As a teenager, I'd gone to see all of these zombie movies, and no one had made one for fifteen years. I thought it was thrilling, to bring the zombie genre back to life. Which that first Resident Evil movie really did. So, yeah. I love it. I loved making that first film, and I have kept that passion. The franchise is something I'm very proud of, and I'm very excited to return each time. I think one of the keys to that is we give everyone a break. We don't bang these movies out. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is, we care about them. We put a lot of passion and energy into them. I feel, if you are making the same movie every single day, back-to-back, it can become a grind. We always wanted to give people a break. So that, when they return to this world that we've created, they are excited about it. That has always been the case. Everytime we come back to making another Resident Evil movie, we feel like, "Oh, yeah! I can't wait to get back, and immerse myself in that world." I would say the same is true for Milla. She approaches each movie with an immense amount of enthusiasm and energy. I think she loves it, and she is given the opportunity to go off and do other things as well. I think that's what keeps the creative team together. Which I think is an important part of the specimen. That's true with any franchise, especially to get to five movies. There are very few that get there with the same people behind and in front of the camera. I think that is the reason we have gotten this far.

I think these movies keep getting better and better, too. Which is exciting for fans. Number 5 is a little bit different than what we've seen come before it. Yet it retains what we love about this franchise. What were some of the challenges of making it new and fresh, while keeping it in line with the other films in the series?

Paul W.S. Anderson: I wanted to catch people by surprise. I feel like, you have to give people a reason to want to come and see the movie again. I always approach these films by trying to give the audience something completely different. That, structurally, has been evident in the stories we tell. The first movie was supposed to be very claustrophobic, almost like a haunted house movie. It takes place in a contained environment, and in a very contained period of time. The second movie became an expansive action movie. It was still the world of Resident Evil, but we are delivering different kinds of thrills, and a different excitement for the audience. The third movie was a road movie, with the expansive landscape, and a convoy that is always on the move. Then, having done all of that traveling in the third movie, I made the fourth movie a siege movie. Two thirds of it is in that very claustrophobic environment, in the prison. Then, for the fifth film, I really wanted to blow the whole franchise out, and deliver, what I thought would be the first truly epic, apocalyptic movie. That's why we had the whole worldwide setting.

Is Retribution your definitive word on this franchise? Or will you continue making these films into the next decade?

Paul W.S. Anderson: I feel that this is very much the beginning of the end for the Resident Evil franchise. I see this movie as the beginning of the end, and the set-up for an epic, and truly spectacular finale. Which I hope will be the next movie.

Was there...Not disappointment in the second and third movie...But a disappointment that you didn't direct those two movies?

Paul W.S. Anderson: I missed directing the movies. I was very insistent, when we made the fourth movie, that I was going to come back as the director. The reason why I didn't direct the second or third movie is not because I didn't want to. It was a scheduling conflict. I was set to do other movies with other studios. Sometimes, one movie studio wants to go ahead, and they aren't willing to wait. But I still stayed as involved as I could be, in a writing capacity, and a producing capacity as well. If given my druthers, would I have directed all of the movies? Yes, I would have done that. But, that was just not feasible.

In this latest installment, you bring back a lot of actors that we've seen throughout all first four movies. What kind of challenges did that pose for you?

Paul W.S. Anderson: It was harder to work out how to bring them back, and fit them into the story, than it was to get them back. In each case, it was easy to get the actors to come back. Each of these Resident Evil movies is made with a lot of passion. I will say that about them. Behind the camera and in front of them. People like making these movies, and they are proud of them. They like making these movies. Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez were both such huge fans of the game when we made the first film. So, to get people to come back? I put in a call to Michelle Rodriguez, and she was back in. It was as easy as that. I didn't have to work very hard at that. I had to work hard at figuring out how to bring them back in the story. And what to do with them once they were back. Especially in terms of Michelle Rodriguez's character, making her a girly-girl in trousers who doesn't know anything about guns. That was one of my favorite aspects of the film. Because its so not Michelle. I think it was one of the things she was excited about as well. She was showing a different side of herself as an actress.

When you made the fourth film, 3D in the home hadn't really hit its stride yet. Here, going into the holiday season, 3D blu-ray players are less than a hundred bucks. The 3D TVs are accessible. Is it now worth it to have a film in 3D knowing that it will be in 3D past its theatrical distribution?

Paul W.S. Anderson: I fell in love with 3D when I saw what James Cameron was doing with Avatar. He kindly showed me a big chunk of the movie before it came out. I was always suspicious of 3D movies, because I'd seen them in the 80s, when they'd come out, and in the 90s. They were all terrible. They would make your head hurt. They were all blurry., It was all gimmicky. When I saw Avatar, I realized for the first time that the technology had caught up with the concept. Obviously, the concept of 3D filmmaking has been around almost since the inception of filmmaking. Finally, the technology had caught up with the idea. Here was a visual medium that could be incredibly immersive. From that point onward, I was full-boar as a 3D filmmaker. I thought 3D had hit its stride in the same way sound had fifteen or twenty years before hand. I remember when I was a kid going to the cinema in England. You had to sit directly in front of the screen, because that's where the speakers were. Then Dolby and THX revolutionized sound. You were really wrapped in this world. The audio world of the story and film. But the visuals always remained flat on the screen. I think with really well executed 3D, that is no longer the case. The visuals really become immersive. Even people's home theaters, now. You are sitting there, watching Saving Private Ryan, and you feel like the bullets are whizzing past your head. With 3D TVs and flat screens being as good as they are, you can feel that with the visuals as well. It has continued my enthusiasm for 3D. But I wasn't waiting for 3D TVs. I was jumping in there with both feet. That's why I've made three 3D movies back to back.

Its cool that it can now really live on past the theatrical exhibition in the way it was meant to be seen...

Paul W.S. Anderson: Yes. I think that is great, because we work really hard to deliver a quality 3D product as well. I am so dead set against conversion. I think it never looks good. It makes my head hurt. It's always blurry and dark. I think, if you are going to ask an audience to pay a premium price, in the cinema or even buying a 3D blu-ray, you better delivery a premium product. I think you have to shoot the movie in 3D. You have to map out the movie as a proper 3D movie. Every aspect of the movie has to be created as a 3D film. For me, in dimensionalizing it, it's like shooting it in black and white, and then sticking the color on afterwards. It doesn't work.

Last question. Who do you hope to bring back, and what do you hope to do with Resident Evil 6, if it is in fact, your final film in the franchise?

Paul W.S. Anderson: I couldn't possible tell you that. Definitely, the destruction and loss of the world. I can't tell you if its the loss of the entire world. In terms of returning characters and themes, I do see this movie coming full circle. And kind of circling back to the original characters and themes that were featured in the very first film. That's why you saw the return of the Red Queen, and Michelle Rodriguez character. It is preparing you for a return to the hive, and a return to the scene of that first film.

Is there one particular actor that you are hoping to bring back that hasn't been back since that first or second movie?

Paul W.S. Anderson: There are a few of them, yes. I felt that, with this movie, there was a limit to what we could do. We were bringing back Colin Salmon, we were bringing back Michelle Rodriguez. There were a lot of returning characters. We were bringing back Sienna Guillory. I didn't want to overwhelm the movie with this endless parade of returning characters. But there are a lot of characters and themes in the franchise that I would like to return to. I think that is going to be one of the fun things. We've taken the audience on this epic journey, and then ultimately realizing that the journey comes back to the very beginning. Hopefully it makes them reexamine everything they have seen in the franchise. I think the finally movie will not only be spectacular, but it will also make you want to go back and watch all of those blu-rays and DVDs again. And watch them through a different lens.

Resident Evil: Retribution is available on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD starting today.

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange