After the success of my Saw Franchise review as a Milestone Review, I knew I wanted to do it again at some point in the future. Films that were mostly too old to be reviewed individually on the website, but as a whole, could make a pretty decent Milestone Review investment, for whatever relevant reason I could think about. And yes, I was a bit surprised that it was review 550, when it doesn’t feel like that long ago.
And I knew the next one of those I would want to do would be the Resident Evil Franchise for a variety reasons. The fact that this is review 1750 makes it extra special in my eyes.
1) When I moved to Ames, I started to review EVERYTHING that hit our theaters, both new and the cheap-o theater. I made that declaration the week AFTER Resident Evil: Retribution left the main theaters apparently. I had no worry, I would watch it when it hit the cheap theaters, because I would even watch “horror” movies now. And then the cheap theater never got it.
2) End of January, a new Resident Evil film comes out, and hey, I need to watch these in order to prepare for it.
And finally, 3) I own all five of these films on Blu-Ray, bought a couple years ago on Black Friday real cheap. So, uhh, I really need to watch them already. Also, I never rushed to watch them, because I have never really played any of these games. I played like, 5-10 minutes of Resident Evil 4, found it too scary, and didn’t touch it again.
And I will finally have some context for The Kick Heard Around the Video Game Movie World.
Let’s talk about Resident Evil, the first movie based on a horror video game, based on the first horror action video game. This film starts us in the Umbrella Corporation facility. They do tech stuff around the world, basically Google, but they also secretly did weapon stuff around the world, making them filthy rich. After some disease juice gets loose in their facility, the AI who runs the whole thing (The Red Queen), kills everyone inside the facility. Every single scientist, worker, peon.
So a military group of soldiers are being sent down there to investigate why and to turn off The Red Queen. Before this happens, we see Alice (Milla Jovovich) waking up naked in a bathtub, in a mansion, with some amnesia. And that is when the soldiers bust in. The group, led by “One” (Colin Salmon) bring Alice along into The Hive (the name of the underground research facility) and let her know that she works for the Umbrella Corporation as well and is meant to guard the entrance. The rest of the team includes Michelle Rodriguez and Martin Crewes. They also have Matt (Eric Mabius) as someone who they recently arrested, and Spence (James Purefoy), Alice’s husband and also guardian of the mansion.
Don’t get your pants in a twist, this monster is coming.
When they get down there, they find destruction, death, and weird shit everywhere. Getting into The Red Queen’s server room is difficult and people die, but damn it, they shut down The Red Queen. Yay! Time to leave and go back to the fun outside in Raccoon City, good job everyone. BUT WAIT. With the AI shut down, all of the locks and operations shut down as well. And it turns out that the virus, the T-Virus, basically made zombies. And shit like that thing in the picture above to deal with.
Somehow Alice is like, super incredibly, awesome. She fights so well. Turns out that Spence is the one who spread the virus, because he was trying to stop Matt and his sister from telling the world about what they were doing. So Spence has to die, and Alice and Matt barely escape to the top before bad things happen, with Matt dying from a claw mark, the antidote so close… And then they are found by Umbrella operatives and taken away.
When Alice awakes, she finds herself in an empty hospital. After she gets out of there, she finds Raccoon City in ruins. Crashed cars, fires, and apparently the T-Virus got out and it is zombie time in the real world. MOVIE 2!
Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the extremely high bar setting subtitle, take place right after the events of the first film. Because of the team going in to capture Alice and Matt, they accidentally also let off a wave of the infected zombies onto the city. And this spreads like wild, against Umbrella’s interests. They set up a perimeter wall around the city and only have one area for people to leave, assuming they pass the test to show they are not infected or bitten. But when the dead get to that area to, they close off the last gate and leave the people inside to deal with it on their owns, even willing to fire on regular citizens.
And this is a problem. This is what Alice wakes up to. Umbrella tried to get its best scientists out of the city as well, including the inventor of the T-Virus, Dr. Ashford (Jared Harris). They were unable to get his daughter out though, Angie (Sophie Vavasseur), clearly the inspiration for The Red Queen. So he wants people to go in and find her, anyone really, promising them a way out.
It takes a lot of skill to keep that outfit together in a high action zombie apocalypse.
People like Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), an ex-cop who hated Umbrella, and her old friend, Sargeant Payton Wells (Razaaq Adoti). People like Umbrella soldiers Carlos (Oded Fehr) and Nicholai (Zack Ward). And eventually all of them meet up with a news reporter Terri (Sandrine Holt), and T.J. (Mike Epps), a guy with guns, and Alice and the girl.
Also running around the city is a giant monster, named Nemesis, working for Umbrella and killing soldiers, not citizens. He is controlled by Umbrella, namely Major Cain (Thomas Kretschmann). Eventually they find out that the monster is actually Matt, from the first on. He was experimented on, just like Alice, except she just got super strong and looked the same while he mutated as he was already scratched. Oh snap!
Also Dr. Ashford gets killed, a lot of fighting ensures, and the survivors escape on a helicopter as Raccoon City is fucking blasted with a nuke! Their helicopter crashes in the wave, Alice is killed saving the girl and Umbrella finds them some time later. Alice wakes up a few weeks later, in a Detroit Umbrella facility, by Dr. Sam Isaacs (Iain Glen), restores her own memories, breaks out and goes on the run with T.J., Jill, Carlos, and Angela, with Isaacs letting her run, knowing she is still controlled. Or something.
Exctinction takes us five years further into the franchise. The T-Virus has spread throughout the world, and basically life sucks. It is all desert-y and dead, very Mad Max-esque. Alice is now driving on her own, abandoning her friends because she is being tracked by satellite. She also has some sort of psychic powers now, thanks to experimentation.
Somewhere near Las Vegas is where we find them all now, Alice wandering and killing bad people and bad zombies alike. And a big caravan of survivors looking for a place to call home. It is led by Claire Redfield (Ali Lartner), and features some returnees like Carlos and T.J. Yay! No idea where Jill went. Some of the new “survivors” include a girl named K-Mart (Spencer Locke) and other actors (Ashanti, Christopher Egan, Matthew Marsden, and Linden Ashby).
Shit, sand got everywhere. I hate sand.
And uhh, well, eventually Umbrella attacks them again when they are in Las Vegas trying to get supplies. They want to go to Alaska, where they heard there is a settlement. More people die, and Alice goes to the local Umbrella facility to put a stop to them and take their helicopter, so the survivors can go. And she does that!
Inside the lair is of course Dr. Isaacs again, but this time he was weak, so he injected himself with the T-Virus too. This turned him into a hybrid fighting entity, with arms that could be elongated with tentacles. Fun! Alice kills that guy, finds out that this facility has hundreds of Alice clones, and she plans to use them to take down Umbrella. Looks like they are located in Tokyo for sure now, they didn’t like Isaacs, and some guy in glasses (Jason O’Mara) is the new, bad guy. Survivors to Alaska, Alice plans to take out Tokyo Hive, end of film.
Afterlife begins with showing how Tokyo got infected. Then we see Alice storm in after Extinction, clone army and all, and clear house. But Wesker (Shawn Roberts), Mr. Sunglasses himself, now played by a new actor, escapes. During their battle, he removes Alice’s super powers, of which she is happy, they both crash and explode and somehow, Alice survives. So she makes her way to Alaska.
There she is attacked by Claire, with a metal spider on her chest. Once she removes it, Claire stops, with some amnesia and doesn’t talk. But Alice finds no other survivors, just a lot of planes and emptiness. So she flies a plane to LA with Claire and lands on top of a prison with some survivors flagging her down. The survivors include Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), Crystal Waters (Kacey Clarke), Angel (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), Bennett (Kim Coates), and a prisoner who calls himself Chris (Wentworth Miller).
Indoor rain scenes are all the rage these days, not at all for sexual reasons either.
And yeah, they are now in a prison, surrounded by zombies. Not just zombies, but a giant one with a big axe/hammer weapon, called Axeman. Turns out Arcadia, the Alaskan settlement, was actually the name of a ship, which is off the coast. They want to get to the ship, to see the other survivors, makes sense. So they do that. They escape, some people die, but when they get to the ship, turns out it also is an Umbrella trap.
They have everyone in tubes under ground, for testing or who knows what. And surprise! There is Wesker again, this time, super super fucking powerful, and fast, and he can regenerate. Much fighting occurs, eventually he is on a ship that explodes and everyone is free! Yay, the survivors are freed from the tubes, when…suddenly! More Umbrella ships show up, with guns. And our old friend, Jill Valentine, now blonde and not at all looking like her former self. But she has a robot spider on her chest, and then…movie ends!
Don’t worry, at the start of Retribution, we will see what immediately happens to Alice in crew, but in slow motion and backwards! Then she will tell us about the first four movie plot, then it will show the attack in regular motion at regular speed. Then we find Alice waking up in a suburban house, with a husband, a deaf child Becky (Aryana Engineer) and no zombies. Weird. Okay. Until zombies attack their neighborhood! Lot of people start dying and of course, then real Alice wakes up, again, in an Umbrella facility.
Sigh. Okay. But the computer that runs it starts to malfunction. So she escapes, a lot of weird things happen, and somehow she finds herself in Tokyo right when the plague begins? What in the fuck? Blah blah action, blah blah plot, eventually we get some knowledge. She is in a large Hive base (They are all really big), but it is a testing facility in Russia. They built huge areas to simulate T-Virus attacks in a few major cities, to sell the tech to governments against each other. It is also underwater and under ice. But don’t work she is being rescued by…Wesker?! What, he survived?
Oh and Ada Wong (Bingbing Li) his assistant. Apparently they want to free her to finally bring down Umbrella, because now Umbrella is being run by The Red Queen herself. They now have to escape, with Becky (who things Alice is her mom, despite just being a clone), in a two hour timer before the facility explodes. Also rescuing her on the other side is a crack team of warriors. Including Luther West! Also Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), and two guys who are totally not as important (Robin Kasyanov, Ofilio Portillo).
Resident Evil always had the most appropriate outfits for fighting AND doing that BDSM thing.
That’s right, this is another movie where they have to escape a place before they all die. But this one features a lot of returning members, because apparently a lot of them were actually clones the whole time. So people from the first and second movie are back, just to fight her with Valentine, still controlled by a robot, while the base comes crumbling down. And more Axemen, zombies, infected, and guns.
Needless to say, eventually they win, and get picked up by Wesker. Where is Wesker? In the White House, with the “last remaining survivors” ready to finally rid the infected threat once and for all. Maybe.
Oh where to do we begin. I guess the first film. Despite having CGI that has aged terribly over the last 14 years, the first film in the franchise is dreadfully okay. The acting isn’t great, but the concept it is introducing is original for the time and it creates a potentially scary situation. Out of all the five films, it is the scariest because everything is new, but again, bad CGI takes away some of the frights. Some of the scenes felt straight out of a video game, but it still wasn’t high art in any sense of the word.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse introduces us to some video game characters and a lot more action. Action at the expense of horror. Like, there are no fears at all in this movie. The zombies aren’t scary, and Nemesis NEVER feels scary, just threatening and powerful. For a horror franchise to immediately drop large portions of horror is a terrible move to make. But at least this film feels like the next step in the franchise and continues the plot along decently, despite the dumb teaser at the end. It is still bad and should feel bad, but there were some attempts there.
Resident Evil: Extinction takes the series in a completely different direction than anyone expected. The point of it was to make a scarier movie with a lot of it set during the day instead of night like normal zombie flicks. The plot was a bit of a weaker point in this film as well, but it would have been stronger had the next two movies not done what they did. It did increase some of the horror elements from the first film, not to the same level, but that is why I left it as okay. Mad Max and Zombies is a fun crossover idea and the film once again got a closer to some sort of closure.
Wow how did Umbrella get their logo to burn on a building like that? Is that a metaphor?!
Resident Evil: Afterlife is where the franchise starts to hit garbage fire mode. To talk about both films, neither really seem to feature that strongly of a horror element. Once again, these films feel incredibly action oriented, with very weak plots. And by weak plots, I mean the films should barely exist. After the third film, we have Alice heading to stop Umbrella Corp’s main office in Tokyo. Awesome, she does that early in the film, then most of the film is instead dealing with this being stuck in a prison, trying to get on a ship situation. This is not really a new plot line from this franchise or from zombie films in general.
And in the fifth film, we start off once again LOCKED IN A GODDAMN UMBRELLA BUILDING. And the entire focus of the movie is to get out of the building. Just like movie one. Just like movie four. They are just rehashing the same plot line and not moving the plot along. Sure, at the end of the movie, they escape the place that they were. But they are solving problems that the films itself create.
After the third film, we can sort of assume where the franchise is going and will go. And instead of delivering that outcome, the fourth film is almost entirely a filler plot line. At the end of the fourth film, we know where the franchise should go, and instead of getting there, it is entirely filled with a different fucking filler plot line. They create and solve issues in the movie itself at the expense of telling a story and it is downright furious.
Sure, they might have some cool sequences in them. They were movies made for 3D and IMAX screens. But they abandoned the genre of horror, retold the first plot in worse ways, and refused to give us growth, which is goddamn necessary that late in to a franchise.
I can hope and hope amongst all things that the next film, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, will bring us the plot we have been looking forward to. But I honestly am just assuming it will also end on a bad cliffhanger and not actually be the final movie. Because money. And dicks.