The Resident Evil film franchise is made up of perhaps the guiltiest pleasure films that anyone ever guiltily pleasured. Or something like that. The films aren’t great. They lack in-depth characterizations, believable emotional responses, and an understanding of how physics and science work. The action is over-the-top and cartoonish, the monsters are rarely presented with state-of-the-art CG effects, and the backstories change at the whim of the series writer, producer, and sometime director, Paul W.S. Anderson. The plots are simplistic, the dialogue wooden, and the twists defy logic. But none of that really matters. Because the whole goddamn franchise is built on a conscious embrace of the ludicrous and the ass-kicking charisma of its star, Milla Jovovich. In preparation for watching and reviewing Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, I sat down and marathoned my way through the entire film series and I noticed that even though there were minor retcons made along the way, overall, thanks to Anderson’s scripts, the series maintained a consistent internal logic that made each installment work as a solid continuation of what had come before. Characters might drop out of one film only to return in another (or to never be mentioned again), and Anderson’s enthusiastic embrace of crazy fringe science (mutant viruses, clones, superpowers, not to mention the ever-present zombie threat) helped to create a world where the soul-crushing reality of a worldwide plague killing off almost all of humanity could be blithely ignored as Milla kicked, punched, shot and stabbed her way across the screen, always looking good and cracking wise when prudent. Basically, they made the apocalypse fun. So it was with a heavy heart that I sat down to watch what everyone involved is saying is the real, actual end of the franchise. If you don’t remember, the fifth film in the series, Resident Evil: Retribution, ended with Milla’s Alice and all of her surviving allies being brought to the White House by her arch-nemesis Albert Wesker to team up and stage one last stand against the zombie/mutant hordes that filled the countryside, swarming forward. That didn’t end well for anyone. After an extended prologue that rewrites the history of the T-Virus plague (and retcons out of existence, original characters Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris) and his daughter Angie (Sophie Vavasseur) – from the second film, Resident Evil: Apocalypse – and replaces them with the video game’s Dr. James Marcus (Mark Simpson) and his daughter Alicia (Ever Anderson), our new Red Queen), we discover that Alice is the only survivor of the attack on the White House and Washington D.C. is a desiccated wasteland only partially as devastated as Trump is working toward as we speak. Soon, we are graced with the return (after sitting out the prior installment, Resident Evil: Retribution) of Ali Larter as Claire Redfield – conspicuously missing her brother, played by Legends of Tomorrow and Prison Break star, Wentworth Miller. He, like all the other survivors of Retribution, apparently died off-camera and nobody is really all that broken up about it. Alice never even mentions or sheds a tear for the clone daughter she rescued/adopted last time out. It’s this sort of lack of real human emotional reaction, mentioned earlier, that in any other film series would be a devastating critical flaw, but here, we just keep moving. Apparently, Alice and Claire disassociate like bosses, and we’re all cool with that. This is the third Resident Evil film in a row that Anderson has directed (after filming the first installment) and is a marked visual departure from the last two. The Final Chapter uses a darker palate with heavier shadows, more jump scares (seriously, a shit ton of jump scares), and a more frenetic editing style that unfortunately undercuts the impact of the action scenes. There’s a conscious effort to make this film more of a horror film than the superhero films the last two had become. It’s also the most filmic looking entry since Russell Mulcahy‘s Resident Evil: Extinction, but is ultimately less satisfying. But with that said, it is still a solid ending to the franchise. It brings back the best villain the series has had, with the return of Iain Glen‘s Dr. Isaacs, in both clone (a religious fanatic) and original (cybernetically upgraded Umbrella part owner/board member) form, while teaming him up with perpetual annoyance Wesker (Shawn Roberts). Ruby Rose continues her campaign to be in all the cool shit, showing up and kicking ass for what is a sadly short time. The action sequences are original and exciting, although that commitment to quick cuts is tedious and frustrating. I miss the clean action of the last two films. It’s very difficult to keep track of what’s going on in this one. Jovovich’s performance is spot on, as is Larter’s. They’re so good together that I wonder what ever made Anderson decide to go in any other direction. But while Larter is awesome, this is Jovovich’s film and she carries it with grace, wit, and a take-no-prisoners attitude. The fight scenes – what we can see of them – are brutal and bone-crushing. There’s very little attempt to prioritize making sure she looks good with making sure she looks fully engaged, right down to the cuts and bruises from every ultra-violent fight (although her make up is always perfect underneath, don’t get me wrong). Of all the Resident Evil films, I’d have to rank this one as on par with the last two. It’s better than Apocalypse (entry 2), but not better than the original or Extinction (entry 3). Afterlife (4) and Retribution (5) were so closely related that it’s hard to see them as separate films, and come in just barely under Extinction in my opinion. So for those keeping score, my official ranking of all the films is Extinction at the number one spot, Resident Evil at number two, followed by Afterlife, Retribution, and the Final Chapter all in the number three spot, with the disappointing Apocalypse bringing up the rear (thanks to a truly horrible first hour or so). Feel free to let me know your rankings below or over on Facebook! See larger image The Resident Evil Collection (Resident Evil / Resident Evil: Apocalypse / Resident Evil: Extinction / Resident Evil: Afterlife / Resident Evil: Retribution) [Blu-ray] “RESIDENT EVIL A team of paramilitary commandos must battle flesh-eating undead, killer mutant dogs and a supercomputer’s deadly defenses before an unleashed virus consumes humanity in this adaptation of the hit video game series! RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE After narrowly escaping the horrors of the underground Hive facility, Alice is quickly thrust back into a war raging above ground between the living and the undead. It’s a race against time as the group faces off against hordes of blood thirsty zombies, stealthy Lickers and mutant canines. RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION In the third chapter of Resident Evil, Alice joins the survivors of the Raccoon City catastrophe to travel across the Nevada desert and fight against the evil Umbrella Corporation in hopes of making it to Alaska. RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE Alice (Milla Jovovich) is back in the fourth installment of the Resident Evil saga. Now,without super human powers, she’ll team up with fellow survivors Claire and Chris (Ali Larter and New From: $22.95 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.