365 Film Challenge Part 13: The Resident Evil Series

Having watched the third film recently I figured why not keep going with the zombie series as all of them are on Amazon Prime.

Film #47: Resident Evil: Afterlife

This kicks off a short time after Extinction ends, and almost instantly fumbles the ball. We ended the last flick with Alice vowing revenge on the Umbrella Corporation, and finding an army of her own clones. So, the stage was set for an interesting battle as the super powered clones joined her against the shady corporation. Unfortunately all the clones get wiped out in the opening fifteen minutes and Alice is stripped of her special powers.

While this is lacklustre compared to what audiences might have envisaged, it does kinda work. Firstly, Alice’s powers always seemed to meant that in her scraps with zombies there wasn’t much genuine peril, and secondly, with all respect to Jovovich, she doesn’t have the acting chops to successfully bring different versions of Alice to life, so they’d all have been too similar to be interesting.

But it speaks to a theme in the series that the films include a few moments of inspired creativity but fall victim to the trappings of the source material. It’s not enough to have zombies, we also have bigger monsters, which is fine, I guess, but none are that impressive.

Here the good ideas are the fact that the Alaskan safe haven Alice’s allies headed for is nowhere to be seen when she arrives, with a bleak image of abandoned aircraft survivors had used to get there. The mystery, ramped up when old ally Claire (Ali Larter) turns up and attacks Alice, her mind controlled by a weird robospider, and later her memory gone. They head south, discovering no life until they reach LA (cool shot of a damaged Hollywood sign) and find a group of survivors in a prison fortress.

Major coincidence, Claire’s brother, special forces soldier Chris is also there! Alice learns the Arcadia is a boat, and is off the coast. Can they get to it? And what’s waiting for them there?

It’s another fun movie but the Umbrella corporation stuff drags for me, and the constant need to throw in new monsters doesn’t help. I’d rather them deal with the undead and try to find a cure. Parts work, others fall flat and the supporting cast are thinly crafted once more. The major problem is that this was made during the post-Avatar 3D boom and as such there’s tons of scenes designed for that format with things flying at the screen. Thank the gods that ended. 6/10.

Film #48: Resident Evil: Retribution

Alice and her allies are on the Arcadia ship when the Umbrella forces close in. The movie starts with this attack shown in reverse, then has a recap voiceover and clip reel, then plays the attack again. I’m not sure why, other than to show off slow-mo reverse effects, which is an example of the series’ style over substance approach.

This feels the most “video game” of the series so far with Alice waking up in an Umbrella facility and having to get out assisted by her old enemy. There’s a guy on a computer screen who essentially lays out the mission and there’s a basic “get to this place” plot so she can be extracted. The different “levels” are different holographic simulations, each with different monsters. In a way this actually helps the movie, with a simple, action packed plot that keeps it streamlined.

Again there are nice touches here, like Alice having to deal with clones of old allies cropping up, as well as getting a “daughter” when she meets a girl who’s mother was an Alice clone. It’s nicely done, and we get to see Michelle Rodriguez back in the movies, playing a badass soldier and a regular suburban woman.

There are some cheesy action movie moments, and the villain is terribly bland, but the action keeps it ticking along and it’s simple, if silly, entertainment, and a step up on the previous flick. 7/10.

Film #49: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

After we finished with Alice and other survivors staging a desperate last stand against the horde of zombies and mutants at the White House. This picks up after that turned out to be a disaster, with Alice the sole survivor. Escaping the ruins she is contacted by the Red Queen, the creepy little girl hologram thing who tells her there is an antivirus, which if released will destroy the infected. But to do so she has to go back into the Hive, the underground lab beneath the ruins of Raccoon City, where it all began.

It’s not entirely sure why Alice just believes the Red Queen, but she does, and she sets off to find the cure. Along the way she runs into Dr Isaacs and learns that when she thought she’d killed him in Extinction she’d actually just whacked his clone, and that he caused the zombie apocalypse as part of his religious mania to “cleanse” the earth and rebuild it anew. Cool.

Alice arrives in Raccoon City with Isaacs and an army of the dead in pursuit. At the city she finds a group of survivors and they join her as she mounts an assault on the Hive. But the Umbrella Corporation know she’s coming and set up as many obstacles as they can. And one of the group is working for the enemy. Da-da-daaaaa!

The problem this flick has is the same as several other movies in the series, which is that the entire supporting cast are poorly developed and feel utterly expendable. Ali Larter returns for a third outing as Claire, but even her character is pretty thin. Although to be fair, Alice isn’t much deeper.

Again, there are some decent action sequences and nice ideas, like Isaacs’ truck rolling towards the city with the undead following like some kind of army, and at least it kinda explains why they’d make a zombie virus in the first place, which unless I’ve forgotten something, is never fully explained before. And against a enchanced Isaacs Alice finally gets a showdown with a foe that seems like a genuine threat to her, and possibly the most brutal fight of the series.

What I do like is that despite the subtitle they have an open ending, and a sense that Alice’s fight continues, like every previous film. It’s a solid place to leave Alice, and ties up a few of the series problems, making for a decent conclusion. Not without flaws, but passes the time. 6/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s