The Resident Evil film series was such a shambling mess of terrible cinema that somehow continued on for 15 years before finally being put out of its misery with one last shot to the head. Well, that is until the eventual reboot a few years from now that is “more faithful” and might actually replicate the games that sold millions of copies.
The misery in question is that since about the third movie the writer/sometimes-director Paul W.S. Anderson [Director of one cult film (Event Horizon) and a lot of bad films (Death Race (2008), Pompeii, Mortal Kombat, The Three Musketeers, etc)] has clearly had zero idea where to take it. The first two films seemed to take inspiration from the games…the next four…um…no. Films 3, 4, and 5 all set up the start of the next film in the series, which then is either resolved or completely disregarded within minutes in favor of a formula so tired that by the last film they didn’t even bother naming most of the characters. So rather than following the games where our heroes keep trying to stop an outbreak and/or stop Umbrella, the films just jumped straight into 28 Days Later apocalypse in Extinction with Umbrella still around for some reason that doesn’t really get explained until a massive retcon in The Final Chapter. My only guess here is that the games in question kept switching out main characters with each sequel, whereas this film series relies on a singular star.
The one true constant in the series is our lead hero Alice, played by Mila Jovovich – an amnesiac security guard turned into a superhuman savior of all mankind. Doing something not completely unheard of in video game adaptations Anderson decided to create an original character in Alice and then surround her with game characters – which means he could do whatever the hell he wanted with his toy. She starts off as some sort of generic horror survivor character with a mysterious past who then gets super powers which are then taken away…kind of. See, because Anderson married Jovovich after meeting on the first film even the “normal” Alice is still superhuman and awesome, to the point where she can to Matrix-style wire fu moves and survive injuries that a second earlier easily killed one of her many, many dead “friends” she runs into. To be fair by the time the series gets into wire fu the zombies have changed from slow shambling undead to running, brawling monsters. It’s at this point the series just abandoned all notion of being a horror series and just went straight into martial arts action mixed in with explosions – usually with Alice kicking someone in slow motion. In the second film she states that the superpowers granted to her make her “barely feel human” which you can believe because somewhere after that she becomes a lady who is desperately trying to pull off a badass performance but just comes across like a dollar store version of the Sarah Connor from Terminator.
If you were looking for a recent Mary Sue styled action hero Alice might be the most egregious from film 2 on. She’s so unstoppable and perfect that the only times she ever needs help is when she requires someone to point her in the right direction where she can continue to be unstoppable. She constantly wins fights against superpowered enemies and comes out with minimal damage even when she is a “normal” human. All other characters bow to her awesomeness, and the only time in the series another character doesn’t bow (Jill in Apocalypse) Alice has to constantly one-up them at every turn. When Alice gets knocked out by a giant monster in Afterlife and Claire gets to have an action scene you’d think they finally fixed this but no – Alice wakes up and has to remind Claire how to duck under things, and then finishes off the monster for her. While she starts as a security guard with some combat skills by the time the later films role around she can not only pinpoint shoot people with short range weapons hundreds of feet away, she also somehow picks up the ability to fly planes, hack computers, and understand sign-language (a deleted scene in Retribution says this was part of “basic training” which appears to be a retcon because they decided to cast a deaf actress in the film as Alice’s not-child clone). In fact the only superpower that Alice doesn’t have is the ability to look like she knows how to properly hold a gun…seriously have a drink every time she dual wields guns and they are both pointed in different directions. This universe is totally focused on Alice being awesome – with the entire plot of films 2-6 being about Umbrella finding/using/stopping Alice – at the detriment of making any other characters remotely competent.
Outside of Alice there are exactly three usually returning characters of note who end up returning even if it makes no sense. The most used would be Ali Larter as in-name-only Claire Redfield who despite the zombie apocalypse has perfect makeup in every shot and Alice keeps running into for no good reason. Then we have Shawn Roberts as a scenery chewing Albert Wesker who is always a delight and the best part of this series in my opinion. Finally there’s the Red Queen who changes so many times throughout the series it’s hard to keep track of other than her “you’re all going to die down here” catchphrase which gets crowbared into the later films. A few characters from 1 and 2 show up in 5 as a “reunion” movie but that’s just clone shenanigans and a marketing stunt.
Other than a few setting changes the general outline of 2-6 is: Alice starts alone, Alice runs into some new “friends” who she ends up saving/getting killed, Alice goes to try to stop the evil Umbrella’s weekly post-doomsday plan, Alice succeeds and then sequel baits. The sequel picks up around where previous film ended, though characters Alice was literally standing beside could mysteriously vanish (sorry Chris, Claire, and K-Mart, and the entirety of Retribution’s climax). A couple of video game characters show up just to get the game fans excited but are otherwise just there for marketing – Leon, Chris, Barry, Ada Wong, etc. Oh also expect that the subtitles are pretty meaningless…other than The Final Chapter assuming it is the final chapter.
If you are going to go into the Resident Evil film series with the intention of sitting through all six of these travesties you need to be able to deal with the quirks of the series. The main thing you have to deal with is the awful storytelling at the level of borderline incompetence to piece together a compelling plot, but also the series willing disregard for its own established continuity. The “master plan” of Umbrella changes every film, though Alice being the key to it never does. For you see, Alice is the bestest and most important thing ever. Alice is only awesome because Anderson keeps envisioning scenes where she triumphs because Alice.
The other thing you need to love is quick cut editing combined with really badly done slow motion action scenes. I’m not talking bad action scenes – I’m talking fight scenes that seem like were performed at a slower speed as the actors weren’t capable of doing them faster, and then the film is sped up or slowed down to hide it. A hell of a lot of the action of the action of the later films just looks wrong, with the Wesker vs Chris/Claire scenes in Afterlife standing out as the worst. Anderson has this really disgusting love of mixing normal and slow motion in action scenes for no good reason outside of probably thinking it looks cool. Then the normal speed actions scenes are edited with such a frantic pace that each cut lasts about a second at most and it’s difficult to tell which one of Alice’s bestest friends gets killed 5 minutes after meeting her. If the camera holds for more than 3 seconds it’s a miracle. Each movie usually gets at least one decent action scene, but overall it’s your normal mix of guns and punching. The films after the first are radically different than the games’ emphasis on resource management and mostly shooting, so fans of the games’ style definitely won’t be super enthusiastic about this change to what would honestly come out of a bad superhero movie.
The Resident Evil films really cannot be viewed without knowing their badness if you wish to get through them. You have to meet them on their terms if you wish to get any enjoyment out of them. If you were a fan of the games and wanted to see your favorite characters on the big screen then you better prepare for sadness. If you wanted a bad zombie action film series that alternates between insulting and insane then you’re in for a treat.
I’ve seen all the Resident Evil films multiple times for some absurd reason. It’s a sick fascination. Part of me is just intrigued by how awful these films are in terms of integrating the video game lore, and part of me just loves how badly these films even follow their own continuity. It’s one thing to change stuff from the video game, it’s an entirely different thing to see a writer ignore his own previous work for no adequately explained reason. I’m not talking about a retcon or two, I’m talking making changes that directly contradict previous films. It’s amazing to think that the people who stuck around for so many years know this film series better than the people who made it.
It’s hard to rank this series because honestly none of them are good. This is a series that ranges from serviceable popcorn to frustrating. While I usually go out of order for a ranking, instead here I’ll go sequential and end with a ranking because I feel like I need to analyze this series as it was presented. Would I have done this if The Final Chapter wasn’t the clusterfuck that it was? Nope, but I need to establish continuity.
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Our hero Alice wakes up in a mansion without her memory (and without clothes…an odd trait of the first 3 films) and is quickly captured by an Umbrella team of armed soldiers. She’s told she and her “husband” are security agents guarding the entrance to The Hive – Umbrella’s secret underground research lab. It turns out a few hours ago the T-Virus got out and now our crew of horror movie waiting-to-die-heroes have to go in and find out what happened as apparently Umbrella never thought to have remote surveillance. The team goes in and finds that The Hive’s artificial intelligence super computer thing called the Red Queen has went “homicidal” and killed everyone…the only problem is…they didn’t stay dead (…sorry). Yay slow moving zombie horde action! So our team must then fight their way out before the doors seal forever to prevent the infection spreading. We learn that Alice was secretly betraying Umbrella once she learned what they were up to, while her fake husband Spence released the T-Virus to cover his thieving shit to sell on the black market. Alice then slowly regains her memory, remembers she’s a fricken ninja or something, and all her buddies minus one dude end up dead. Alice and her friend get captured by Umbrella who then say they want to reopen The Hive to see what went on…many sequels followed.
Of the Resident Evil films this is by far the most horror-genre flick and the least martial arts filled of them. When watching the series as a whole it stands out as just not fitting in. In a way that hurts it but it is also the only one seems to mimic the source material in any serious way. The games at the point of this films’ release were mostly about solo survival with limited supplies, and the film tries to replicate the feeling of being trapped and racing against a ticking clock. It’s not a perfect adaptation, but it’s far superior to outright changing shit like in Doom (genetic mutation instead of demons), or just being outright terrible like…about 95% of all video game films. Everything that came afterwards is pretty much straight action but with zombies and “horrifying” creatures, but Resident Evil is firmly a horror movie.
The action is pretty standard stuff and literally the only two things anyone ever remembers about this movie are the laser hallway and Alice spin kicking a zombie dog. There’s a lot of people shooting zombies in the chest as they never learn. A lot of our heroes randomly coming into a large group of zombies that somehow sneak up on them even though they are never silent. It all builds up to a climax that never really gets exciting in any way with the big bad monster of the film being defeated by falling through a trap door. At least the sequels went over the top insane in some of their action sequences and final fights. As an action film Resident Evil fails badly.
Mila Jovovich as Alice is also at her best here. Unlike later films where she tries to badass her way through hordes of zombies it isn’t a guarantee that she was going to make it through this. Had the series not gone into weird superpower action this version of Alice might have made the series remotely compelling. It’s nice to feel like our hero is at risk, and Jovovich is pretty convincing at being just frail enough to not be able to solo her way out of it.
The rest of the cast however is pretty much all there to die. Seriously, like midway through the movie all the nameless characters die in the span of 10 minutes, with the rest just waiting it out until the end. Michelle Rodriguez as Rain does her stereotypical Michelle Rodriguez role – with an odd running joke being that she keeps getting bit by zombies. Overall it’s an extremely bland mix of characters that have zero personality aside from the Red Queen who at least is memorable in the “evil little girl” category of stock horror characters.
Resident Evil is an unremarkable film in a series of bad films…which oddly makes it one of the better ones.
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Resident Evil: Apocalypse
So Umbrella was a moron and reopened The Hive, the T-Virus undead got out into Raccoon City and all hell is breaking loose. Alice gets purposefully infected with the T-Virus via an injection of science which has “bonded with her cells” or something and basically gave her superhuman strength, speed, endurance, and also somehow psychic powers. Alice bands together with a group of survivors made up of “waiting to die” and named game characters like Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira as she ends up being hunted by Nemesis – the super mutated infected survivor dude from the first film who is basically a walking tank. They make a bargain with Dr. Charles Ashford – the man who made the T-Virus to stop a genetic condition from crippling his daughter – and rescue Angela Ashford (who looks like the Red Queen) in exchange for a ride out of the city. The group escapes, Raccoon City gets nuked, and oh no it turns out that Umbrella can somehow track/control Alice via vaguely explained satellite technology.
This film gets shit on a lot because it has a terrible plot and paper thin characters, but it is also the most B-Movie of the series. It’s also the most oddly funny for some reason (which does create tonal whiplash). A lot of the actors are hamming it up…or are just bad actors – it’s honestly hard to tell. This is the last time Alice is remotely human and at times looks like a teenager trying to do what she thinks badass people do (motorcycle leap into a church, lit cigarette flick to start an explosion, backwards kicking a zombie in the head). The film also moves at a breakneck speed for some reason with very little time to catch your breath. There’s just this odd feeling to the whole thing.
Also by virtue of its barebones plot there are not a lot of continuity or plot issues that almost make films 4-6 a drinking game. In fact there are only two ones that immediately pop into my mind. First we have long dead corpses from a cemetery popping out and attacking Alice and crew…which is not something the T-Virus can do but whatever. The second is the hilarious scene where Jill Valentine bursts into a police station that for some reason has a lot of zombies under arrest, opens fire, and somehow knows to shoot them in the head. Those two things are dumb as hell but this is just a big B-Movie so it feels okay.
Apocalypse is also the last of the films to even remotely attempt to cover the plot of the games. It does a decent job at covering the Raccoon City Incident, though the shift in focus to the character of Alice does leave pretty much all the supporting characters in a state of “wait for Alice to do stuff” rather be a part of the plot. Seriously you could write out all of Alice’s group and get to the exact same place at the end with nothing lost.
There’s not really much in this film that stands out above it’s peers in the zombie apocalypse genre aside from the emphasis on melee combat. Alice running down the side of the building is a cool scene albeit completely done for trailers. The church fight versus the lickers is tense until Alice comes in to over-the-top badass her way to victory. Nemesis looks impressive but I spent most of my time questioning exactly how much the dude in the suit was sweating as he struggled to move. You’ll probably remember that you saw it, but have very little idea how to describe what happens in it.
I’ll never say Apocalypse is a good film, but it is highly watchable. It’s a film you never really have to pay attention to in order to follow it because what little plot there is isn’t hard to understand. It’s pretty much nonstop action in some form or another for its rather short length. It won’t piss you off like the later films, but it also won’t really make you feel good either. It’s good at what it does, but that isn’t much.
Be warned though, from here on the series gets infuriating if you can follow continuity at all.
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Resident Evil: Extinction
It’s a few years after Raccoon City and the T-Virus has spread over the world and decimated all life…and somehow caused lakes and oceans to dry up (mostly ignored in later films). Alice wanders alone through a desolate landscape searching for a safe place and through investigation gets pointed to Alaska. Meanwhile some of Alice’s Raccoon City buddies have teamed up and formed a convoy of survivors headed by Claire Redfield (who has literally nothing to do with her game counterpart) who travel the desert looking for hope and wouldn’t you know it Alice runs into them. But wait, Dr. Alexander Isaacs of Umbrella is tracking Alice and hopes to use her to perfect/cure the T-Virus or something. Some action scenes happen with the now fast-moving zombies, Carlos dies, and Alice and a horribly mutated T-Virus infected Isaacs (looking like a Tyrant from the games) duke it out with bad CGI. Alice’s buddies Claire and K-Mart (a teenage girl survivor that for some reason we are supposed to care about) escape towards Alaska and Alice swears to hunt down Umbrella’s chairman Albert Wesker with the help of her “friends” AKA a clone army.
Aside from the first Resident Evil, this is the only one with a plot that makes remote sense. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is bad and Umbrella’s motivations (like always) are beyond insane for what seems to be a doomsday corporation, but in terms of being a structured movie that one can understand Extinction is perhaps the best of the series. Later films would then retcon pretty much everything in this film but it stands as the pinnacle of the sequels…if that means anything at all.
This is also the start of “action badass Alice” where all Mila Jovovich does is go emotionless and try to pull off the occasional one-liner. Jovovich just doesn’t exude the toughness that is required for this role but for some reason they stuck with that for 4 movies. The side characters don’t really get a time to shine compared to Alice, but they also get to be in action scenes and don’t always require Alice to save them. Iain Glenn as Isaacs is a decent mad scientist villain for Alice to fight, though his Tyrant phase is terrible.
What makes Extinction stand out is that there are very few films like it. Desert set films are rare as hell these days, and combining it with a survival zombie movie really works well. There’s way more memorable scenes in this film than pretty much any other in the series, and it’s the only Resident Evil film that even attempts to make us give a rat’s ass about the side characters. Sure it makes zero sense to be a Resident Evil film, but at least it has something going for it.
I’d be hard pressed to say that Extinction is a well made movie, but it is perhaps the most competent Resident Evil has been. There isn’t as much tonal whiplash as Apocalypse, and there is less to get annoyed at as the films that followed it. It’s honestly the only film in the franchise that is identifiable from just looking at a single frame of it as the setting does really help set this apart from everything else around it. The action scenes – while not over-the-top – are well done and feature a few memorable moments such as the bird scene. Extinction just seems to work as a sequel that takes an interesting direction – even if the writing fails it. The strength of Extinction lies in the fact that it feels like a complete story…which is a unique thing in this series.
In terms of plot annoyances and such this one isn’t too bad at being, um, bad. As I stated most of what happens in this film gets destroyed in later ones, so it gets worse in retrospect. So here I go:
- How did the T-Virus destroy lakes and trees? How did it turn the Earth to dust in a few years?
- Why did Isaacs let Alice escape in Apocalypse only to desperately want her back now?
- Why clone Alice so she can run a death gauntlet? Does the T-Virus give Alice the ability to detect hidden traps?
- Why does L.J. (comic relief from Apocalypse) decide to hide his zombie bite? He seemed like a good dude but decides to risk the lives of everyone, including his girlfriend. At that point he didn’t know that Umbrella had a nearby base
- Domesticating zombies…because of course
- So now you made super zombies that can run and seem to have the Rage virus? Oh right, 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake made running zombies cool
- In a funny note, how does a shipping crate that was clearly empty contain what looks like at least 50 super zombies? Is it a clown car?
- Why is only Alaska safe? Why not the Yukon or Sweden? Oh right, AMERICA!
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Resident Evil: Afterlife
Alice uses her clone army to attack Wesker’s base but oh no Wesker has all the powers Alice does “only better” and injects her with de-powering science and kills all her clones in the first 15 minutes! Now Alice is just your normal, everyday, zero power super ninja that can survive a high speed fiery planecrash into a mountain. A few months later Alice goes to “Arcadia, Alaska” and finds nothing except a “brainwashed” Claire who now has plot-amnesia! They fly back down the coast to L.A. and team up with some new survivors in a prison who say Arcadia is actually this oil tanker conveniently just off the coast. Following up with Alice’s run of absurd luck it turns out Claire’s brother Chris Redfield is locked up in a cage in the prison! So as the now Majini undead break into the prison (…seriously, how did that show up?) with an Executioner undead (what?!?!), the named characters break out and get to Arcadia. But…oh no Arcadia is actually a trap set by Wesker to capture survivors and experiment on them…for some reason! Alice “kills” Wesker and then Umbrella shows up to sequel bait including an evil blonde Jill Valentine!
Welcome to the first of the “we have no idea what we’re doing” films. Extinction at least could be believed to be a sequel to Apocalypse, whereas Afterlife just feels unnecessary and doesn’t move the plot forward much. Afterlife is just a mid-season episode of a show like Supernatural where you know there’s a gigantic evil god out there waiting to be fought, but the episode is a “villain of the week” one that lightly touches on what we actually care about.
This film also firmly established the style of the last three Resident Evil films with the “Alice stumbles upon a group of people who die within 6 hours of knowing her” and boy is it funny. Seriously at one point a seemingly nice British aspiring actor lady gets killed and within a minute Alice is cracking a “Niiiiiice” at seeing an armory full of guns. Yay pointless characters to ramp up the body count. At least it’s not pointless Korean/Japanese movie/music stars like in The Final Chapter!
The only good quality of this film is Shawn Roberts as Wesker. This dude knows how to play this character so well that it puts the rest of the cast to shame. He plays Wesker with such a glorious level of B-Movie slimy villain that you can’t help but root for him…if only so he can say more lines. Chris and Claire both suck (can someone at some point mess up Ali Larter’s perfect post-apocalypse makeup that she had for months/years alone in Alaska?) and Mila Jovovich oddly seems to be sleepwalking this role now and in its sequel.
Those who actually wanted an action film will be sorely disappointment with Afterlife. Welcome to the land of slow-mo action scenes for no good reason. Yes it’s impressive to see someone do a backflip in slow-motion – but it’s less impressive to see entire action sequences in it. Sorry, I should amend that. It’s less impressive to see entire action scenes where the “action” is in slow-mo and the 2 seconds between “action” is in regular speed. I do kind of want to forgive this film in particular for it because it was the first 3D Resident Evil and coming hot off the heels of Avatar it did at least “try” to do some stuff in 3D to look cool. The only good action scene is the shower scene of Alice/Claire vs Executioner but it’s also stylized to death and if shot at regular speed would be a quarter the length. The final fight between Alice/Chris/Claire and Wesker is botched in the editing room and it’s difficult to feel like you aren’t watching a badly choreographed dress rehearsal rather than a real fight. Afterlife is just a bad action film, there’s no slow-mo wire-fu dancing around that fact.
Afterlife is just…bad. There’s next to zero redeeming qualities other than Shawn Roberts as Wesker. It fails on almost every level and only made a lot of money at the box office based on the fact it was in 3D when that craze was still a thing. The acting is terrible, the action scenes are boring, and it just fails to move the Resident Evil franchise forward.
And now…a bunch of incredibly wrong shit in Afterlife:
- Umbrella made a billion Alice clones all infected with the T-Virus in Extinction? Why keep killing them? They all seem as powerful as Alice.
- Hell, if cloned Alice has access to her T-Virus powers, and Umbrella just imprints memories on their clones (as clarified in Retribution), why not make an army of Alice clones that all have her powers that is loyal to Umbrella?
- Wait, so Wesker has Alice’s abilities but is fighting the T-Virus for “control”…can they inject the T-Virus in anyone and they’d get Alice’s powers?
- Alice is back to “human” yet constantly does superhuman stuff (ten foot high leaping spin kicks are soooooo normal)
- How did an oil tanker get confused as Arcadia, Alaska?
- Why was Claire just randomly at “Arcadia” with her brainwash bug? Why only her? How did she spend the last few months/years alone?
- Where the fuck did the Executioner show up from? Next film has an “answer” but doesn’t really explain it here. Also, how does the Executioner sneak up on Alice in the prison showers?
- Why the fuck are Majini now a thing? Does Paul W.S. Anderson not know they aren’t T-Virus undead in the games?
- Why does Wesker/Umbrella want to lure people to Arcadia to “experiment” on them?
- Did Anderson forget that running zombies were only from Isaac’s experimentation? All zombies seem to be able to run and fight now
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Resident Evil: Retribution
Picking up right after Afterlife, Alice gets captured by Umbrella’s army (and Claire/Chris/K-Mart, who were RIGHT BESIDE Alice, mysteriously vanish). Jill interrogates/tortures Alice in order to find out why she “betrayed Umbrella” while Jill is being controlled by the Red Queen, who has somehow taken control of all of Umbrella. Ada Wong comes to break out Alice with the help of the now good-guy Wesker, as she has been taken to some underwater testing facility where Umbrella – years after the vast majority of mankind has been wiped out – is still “testing” to study the T-Virus using CLOOOOONES! See, it turns out that Alice is a clone, Carlos was a clone, Rain was a clone, … pretty much everyone who ever worked for Umbrella was a clone. Alice and Ada fight their way through several testing facilities (aka excuses for action scene sets) as the Red Queen throws a bunch of super undead at them and make their way to the surface with even more buddies who totally won’t die, and a clone deaf girl that Alice has fallen in love with. Jill and a Las Plagas infected Rain clone (WHY ARE LAS PLAGAS NOW HERE?!) fight Alice and as Alice is a god she somehow wins. Alice, Jill, and company are taken to Wesker who gives Alice her powers back to help in “humanity’s last stand” at the White House against an army of undead controlled by the Red Queen. Awesome sequel promise…that never happens.
In some ways this is worse than Afterlife, while in others it is way better. It’s a good debate as to which is more terrible. It’s a choice of whether you like a boring movie that at least has a plot, or a film with some okay action that has zero plot.
While Afterlife had a few moments that had plot in them, Retribution however does nothing at all until the final moments. It’s just an excuse for action scenes with a plot contrivance to get characters that were long dead back into the series. The plot is basically just Alice fighting through sets to get out of a prison and nothing else. If Afterlife was a “villain of the week” episode of Supernatural, Retribution is a tie-in comic prequel that explains how Alice made it from Arcadia to the final scene in this film. Nothing important happens here at all.
This was a film with a lot of marketing about getting Leon, Barry, Ada, and a lot of the previous films’ actors back and it amounts to next-to-nothing. Leon and Barry are just random dudes in the rescue party, Ada is just there to tag along with Alice for a couple of scenes, and all the actors from the first two movies are just part of the goon-squad chasing Alice. Rain for some reason becomes the big-bad-boss at the end…which makes no sense because Alice never really gave much of a rat’s ass about her and it should have been a clone of Spence as that would have had some emotional weight to it. Jill is the only one who gets any decent screen time as for some reason Anderson decided to write that Jill was some sort of good friend to Alice. Also this film could have used far more Wesker.
As much as the setting makes zero sense it at least is an excuse for some fun action scenes. If you just want a series of action scenes in a variety of sets then this will serve you well, though only a couple really stand out. The best by far is the opening assault on Arcadia that is presented in reverse slow motion. The kung-fu stuff does look overly choreographed at times but otherwise it’s a good mix of fisticuffs and guns, but the editing is horrid. The final fight though is such a mess of slow motion movement that what appears to have been a well choreographed fight ends up losing its weight.
I honestly have very little to say about Retribution as it’s barely a film. Retribution is an excuse for action scenes and has barely enough plot to get from point A to point B. It relies on the audience caring about Alice and the returning characters, and does nothing at all to introduce the new characters of Barry, Ada, and Leon. Seriously Ada is introduced in an exposition dump and both Barry and Leon are strictly only recognizable by their outfits. Had the film just been Alice and Ada fight their way through the base’s zombies and evil Jill it might have been better than having so many pointless moments. The film does nothing to advance the plot of the series other than setting up a sequel that would have been amazing if they actually followed through with it.
Retribution is just a generically bad movie. Other than the final moments of this film basically none of it needed to exist, and even then The Final Chapter ignores pretty much everything Retribution did. You can see they are just spinning their wheels until they decided to finally end the series.
And now finally, a long list of stuff wrong in Resident Evil: Retribution
- No explanation for missing characters of Claire, Chris, and K-Mart. Only one of those explained in next movie
- Why continue to run a giant facility designed to showcase how good the T-Virus was in a potential bidding war between nations when those nations haven’t existed for years?
- So after Umbrella wanted Alice to cure the T-Virus, and then for Wesker to eat her, why do they care about “why she betrayed” Umbrella?
- …is there a reason Alice’s cell comes equipped with Alice-sized latex bondage battle armor?
- How did the Red Queen somehow take over Umbrella from Wesker? Why does she want to eliminate humanity?
- Why did Wesker become a good guy?
- So Umbrella created the Executioner from Afterlife? And then sent it out to attack the prison?
- Las Plagas undead are a thing now? Alongside the Majini undead? What?
- If Umbrella was trying to cure the T-Virus in Extinction, why does Umbrella/Red Queen want to destroy the remainder of humanity using an undead army she vaguely controls?
- If Las Plagas can make Rain into a superpowered invincible beast, why doesn’t Umbrella inject all their clone army with them?
- Why does Alice fall in love with and desperately want to save a clone child she has known for like 30 minutes? She’s never been maternal in any previous film
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Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
After Wesker betrays Alice and friends, a powerless Alice is left alone in Washington as the lone survivor of an action scene we never get to see or have explained to us. The Red Queen contacts her and is now actually a good guy who wants to save the remaining few pockets of humanity before they are killed by Umbrella under the control of Alexander Isaacs (who Alice killed a “clone” of in Extinction, and is the founder of Umbrella…what). The Red Queen actually wants to save mankind but cannot harm Umbrella employees (tell that to the first film, and Retribution where she tries to kill Alice and Ada) so only Alice can save the world. Alice has only a few hours to stop Umbrella from wiping out humanity and setting up the blank slate for Umbrella’s secret underground Arc from remaking the world as they see fit (……..what). Alice makes her way to Racoon City after being captured by a religious clone of Isaacs (…why) and finds Claire who escaped Umbrella’s capture after Afterlife (but…if they wanted to destroy all of humanity…why…nevermind). It turns out Wesker is actually under the command of Isaacs who started the outbreak as he feared humanity would destroy itself so he kickstarted the apocalypse with Umbrella to reshape the world after releasing an airborne antivirus (…………..whaaaaaaaaat). So Alice and Claire break into Umbrella’s Arc which is underneath The Hive from the first film (whaaaa … you get the picture) and have to fight the real Isaacs who is “enhanced” with some sort of computer cyborg stuff. But wait, Alice is actually a clone of Alicia Marcus, the daughter of the dude who made the T-Virus (okay seriously?) to stop Alicia’s premature aging (…but in Apocalypse it was…okay i’ll shut up), and the Red Queen is modeled after Alicia as a child (……uuuuuuuugh). Oh and Alicia Marcus is the co-owner of Umbrella with Isaacs after Isaacs killed Alicia’s dad! Badly done fight scenes followed but an anticlimax ending and Alice finally ends Umbrella. Her reward? Getting the memories of a childhood she never had….how confusing. The End.
Before I jump straight into everything wrong with The Final Chapter I want to warn people to NOT read the Wikia articles on the film series. The Final Chapter retcons so much that most of the articles read like a fan desperately trying to make these blatant retcons make sense (like apparently the Red Queen was torturing Alice in Retribution to find out if she was secretly working with Isaacs, who she already (through a different retcon) helped Alice kill a clone of in Extinction…suuuure). Okay, without further delay…:
- So now the origin of the virus is changed to Dr. Marcus trying to fix Alicia Marcus’ condition…so let’s ignore Apocalypse
- Actually he “discovered” the T-Virus, so did Ashford make it and then Marcus find another use for it? Seriously Anderson do you even remember your own movies?
- So now the Red Queen is based on child Alicia Marcus…so let’s ignore Apocalypse again (yes I know it was never explicitly stated in Apocalypse, they just extremely heavily hinted at it in every way imaginable)
- So now the Red Queen actually “values human life”…odd that she attempted to kill Alice, Ada, Leon’s crew, etc in Retribution. Or everyone from the first movie. Oh let’s not forget slaughtering the no-names on Arcadia!
- Why make the Red Queen good after setting her up as the big bad of the last movie? Did you forget you already had the White Queen from Extinction that could fill this role? (apparently the novel says that the White Queen was just a different avatar of the Red Queen…so the author of THAT had to fix this problem)
- So the Red Queen can’t harm Umbrella employees…I guess The Hive’s employees must have been subcontracted or something because she killed the shit out of them, and asked Alice (an Umbrella employee) to murder the shit out of Rain (an Umbrella employee)
- So now Wesker is back to being evil…so let’s ignore Retribution
- So now Isaacs is the boss of Umbrella…so let’s ignore Extinction, Afterlife, and Retribution
- So now Wesker doesn’t have powers anymore…so let’s ignore Afterlife and Retribution (yes I know the theory that he didn’t “ingest” fresh DNA so he’s lost his powers, shut up)
- So now Umbrella released the virus on purpose…so let’s ignore literally the entire plot of the first movie where Spence did it to cover his tracks when he stole it to sell to the highest bidder. Oh and also ignore Apocalypse where they literally nuked Raccoon City to cover up the T-Virus escape and tried to frame it as a hoax, or Extinction where they were trying to cure it
- So now Alice is just a clone of Alicia…so why did clone Isaacs in Extinction not know this?
- So the last scene of Retribution didn’t really matter, and I guess Wesker just “tricked” Alice into thinking she got her powers back…for some reason even though it was a surprise to her…
- So Isaacs is some sort of cyborg with a hyper brain that can predict outcomes…and he forgets to utilize that when his own clone stabs and kills him
- Speaking of that, how did clone Isaacs kill the real Isaacs with a few stabs? He just shrugged off a grenade
- We get to see Isaacs doing a weird “I can predict the future” computer simulation where he kills Alice within seconds…yet he spends 10 minutes toying with her and Claire and never attempts to kill the only person that can stop him
- If Umbrella’s doomsday plan involved a blank slate, and they had the antivirus all along…why literally the entire plot of Extinction
- Why did Umbrella capture Claire and take her back to The Hive…and something something where’s Chris and/or K-Mart
- What the flying fuck happened between Retribution and The Final Chapter? Seriously what the fuck happened. I know the novel explains this but the movie sure as hell didn’t
- Why did the Red Queen not fully trust Alice who has done literally nothing but try to kill/stop Umbrella for the last decade in the film’s continuity. She tried to kill Alice multiple times, but now sees her as the only way to stop Umbrella
- What is the Red Queen’s plan? Have Alice kill Isaacs/Wesker so she could assume control of Umbrella and recall the Umbrella forces sent to murder the last human settlements and release the airborne antivirus? She says there are 4472 people left which seems like she’s cutting it REALLY close for someone who had this plan since before the first movie if The Final Chapter is to be believed
- Actually, what was Isaacs’ plan? Start the zombie apocalypse because it will “leave the infrastructure and resources intact” and a few thousand Umbrella folks can ride it out underground? I get that making a plague might be harder to control and the T-Virus was already there, but it seems most of the world’s infrastructure is in shambles.
- Why did Wesker literally leave the only way into The Hive open? If he just closed those doors earlier Alice wouldn’t be able to get in
- Why turn Wesker – the big bad guy from the games and the previous films – into a lieutenant who dies in the lamest way imaginable? None of the film or game audience gave a rats ass about Isaacs, and Alice already killed the shit out of the elderly man 3 films ago
- Why bring Isaacs back at all, and as the head of Umbrella? It means retconning half the movies for someone that had a cameo in Apocalypse, and died a glorious death in Extinction
- Why add a religious aspect to Umbrella’s doomsday plans? It never popped up before
- Why have Ali Larter’s Claire be the only returning “good” main character from the series when she was conspicuously absent from Retribution – the “reunion” movie?
- Finally, why does Umbrella keep letting Alice live? They have like 6 chances to murder her in this film and she’s the only thing standing in their way. Heck, they literally help her to their headquarters.
Okay, now that THAT’S out of the way I can basically say Resident Evil: The Final Chapter fucking sucks. It has badly edited action scenes, it has bad acting (hey pointless Ruby Rose cameo as we tried to make her a “thing” in early 2017), and it goes out of its way to destroy the entire continuity of the film series.
The Final Chapter honestly feels like it was written by someone who only saw the trailers for the series…on mute. I know that’s not the case as Paul W.S. Anderson wrote and directed it! Did he forget his own film series? Did Mila Jovovich not tell her husband that he’s an idiot? It honestly feels more like it was directed and written by someone who hated the previous films and wanted to put their own spin on it. Hell it was confirmed that actors of characters STANDING NEXT TO ALICE in Retribution were never invited back to this film. I know this is not a good film series at all, but seriously fuck Paul W.S. Anderson for screwing over the fans after promising something in Retribution that you clearly had no intent to fulfill.
The only thing I can say that is good about this movie is that it is filmed well. Continuing the theme of reviving elements of Extinction it seems to take a page from that film’s production and creates a rather stylish look to it. The action scenes aren’t too amazing but they at least are shot better than Afterlife or Retribution, but sadly edited to those films’ standards. Scenes that should be awesome are very hard to follow and you find yourself having to pause the film to do a headcount to see who died. If Anderson could learn to hold on a shot for more than 1 second the fights could have been great. There’s this odd over-the-top quality to a lot of the fights here which at least makes them a tad more memorable than most of what this series has produced, with very little generic gunfights. Almost everything else here is inferior to any decent action flick, but at least they did something remotely right.
For what is the final movie in the series Anderson does a piss poor job at getting his actors to perform. Sadly this film relegates Shawn Roberts’ Wesker to basically 4th billing, so his scenes are minimal and thus the one enjoyable thing is gone. Iain Glenn as Isaacs doesn’t really come across as chewing scenery, but more like pretending to, and went from mad scientist to religious egomaniac. Jovovich is passable as Alice this time (Afterlife and Retribution have numbed me) but is astoundingly bad as Alicia to the point where this dual role is more comedic than dramatic. Ali Larter is Ali Larter…that’s about all I can say. Beyond that we have Ruby Rose as “we were contractually obligated to put her in this movie” and a couple of famous Japanese and Korean actor/models who get about 3 minutes of screentime but, like other things in this series, “we were contractually obligated to put them here” because for some reason these films were big draws in Southeast Asia. Again, Anderson had access to a much larger (and better) list of potential actors/characters to bring back for this film and decided to instead go completely random.
If I was doing this film I’d have actually followed up on Retribution. I’d have had the big fight in the beginning with only Alice, Jill, and Wesker surviving (maybe even Ada and Leon too). The three then make their way to The Hive to shut down the Red Queen once and for all, and you could even have that whole Arc plot if you wanted to. Throw in some more random survivors or something – maybe Chris and Claire have an anti-zombie group. The three make it down there with Jill’s former police creds letting them get access to arms or something. They shut down the Red Queen and attempt to get the White Queen to replace her to stop Umbrella but Wesker betrays them so he can be King or whatever and we can have the awesome Wesker vs Alice superpower fight we have all wanted. There, I made a better movie. How did Anderson screw this up so badly?
While I admit that Afterlife and Retribution might be worse films on paper, The Final Chapter is the most infuriating by far. It takes what has been built up for over a decade at that point and throws it in the toilet in favor of some barely thought out conclusion that makes no sense. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to follow the logical progression from Retribution, though Anderson seems to have decided that he needed to rewrite the films he himself wrote in order to fit in this lackluster finale. This amount of retconning rarely takes place outside of the world of comic books. Maybe this has to do with the multiple delays due to Jovovich being pregnant and on-set accidents, but that still doesn’t explain why so many actors weren’t invited back and two characters who were written out of the series were. On its own The Final Chapter might be a generic bad film, but when taking into account all the stuff it screws up it transcends its meager status as a bad movie and ascends to the heights of “worst finales ever made”.
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Since I just wrote a billion words on this terrible series, I’ll briefly give my list From Worst To Best: Resident Evil Film Series
6) Resident Evil: Retribution
As bad as Afterlife but more pointless, it has some decent action scenes and wastes less time…even though this film is a waste of time. Only reason Afterlife gets a better spot is because Wesker. 1 out of 5
5) Resident Evil: Afterlife
It’s just boring. For what enjoyment I got out of Shawn Roberts’ Wesker it’s not worth it to sit through the middle of this movie. If you could just watch the opening 15 minutes and the closing 20 do that. 1 out of 5
4) Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
It’s the worst sequel of the series, but is at least nicer to look at and is far more creative in creature design and action scene staging. Otherwise it just pisses off fans. 1.5 out of 5
3) Resident Evil: Apocalypse
It’s a B-Movie action that you don’t have to think hard about. I can watch it without getting too upset at it. 2 out of 5
2) Resident Evil
Generic horror movie with bad acting and action…but at least it tries to replicate the Resident Evil games in some way. 2 out of 5
1) Resident Evil: Extinction
The only film that feels unique in any way. Probably the best made of the bunch. If it was better written it could have been great but is easily the best Resident Evil film if only for the fact there are multiple good things about it. 2.5 out of 5