Tag Archives: Resident Evil

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

Look. I knew there was a 99.99% probability that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter was not going to be any good. But it was December 31, and I had gotten a rare day off from work and family duties for the first and last time of 2016. I just wanted to relax and do something I enjoy—and that’s to watch a movie, no matter how bad it may be. And you know what? It was really, really bad.

Having been a fan of the video game series on which the films are (loosely) based since the very first one on PS1 in 1996, I have stuck with the Resident Evil movies all the way through as well (or at least I think I have, because they all blend together after a while and don’t have any consistent coherency or logic). This “Final Chapter”, or so they say, is more of the same. Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, the ass-kicking warrior waging war against the Umbrella Corporation that unleashed the zombie apocalypse on the world with the T-virus 10 years ago. Ali Larter, in desperate need of a paycheck, also reprises her role as Claire Redfield, basically a shittier version of Alice.  Additional returnees are Shawn Roberts, who plays the wearing-sunglasses-indoors-and-at-all-times villain Wesker, and Game of Thrones alum Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont) is back as Dr Sam Isaacs.

If you’ve watched any of the previous films, I know what you’re thinking: Haven’t some or all of these people died already? Multiple times? Yes and yes. But it doesn’t matter. For the sake of money the plot, everyone can be brought back. Of the new cast members, the only one I know of is Aussie DJ Ruby Rose, who has been in a lot of things lately. I wish she could have done more, but she’s a sorry footnote of a character who doesn’t get anywhere close to living up to her potential.

Actually, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter plays out very much like a bad video game. I thought the film started off well, with Alice basically recapping the entire film series up until now in a way that made the story almost seem coherent, and there’s a couple of early jump scares that had me hopeful of a solid horror action flick. But then, a plot contrivance is created to put the story for this film in motion, and it’s an absolute stinker. It’s so bad and lame and lazy that I literally laughed out loud. And then it was all downhill from there. Like a video game, character actions and motivations are driven by what monster or plot device the movie wants to throw at the audience next. So you get a lot of scenes where Milla just walks into a place for no reason and then encounters enemies she needs to kill—and kill in spectacular fashion.

Knowing what I know about the franchise, I didn’t have a huge problem with that per se, or even the terrible dialogue or plot holes galore, or the “borrowing” of visual ideas and designs from The Walking Dead and Mad Max: Fury Road, or the plethora of other things that just defied belief. What I couldn’t stand was how badly the film was shot and edited, especially the action sequences. Writer and director Paul WS Anderson (Milla’s husband in real life) has some average films on his CV, but never have I seen him this lazy. Throughout the entire movie, you only get a vague idea of what is happening in terms of the action that’s taking place on the screen. Perhaps there were budgetary or time constraints, but every action sequence is marred by a ridiculous number of rapid cuts. And when the action’s not unwatchable because of the editing, it’s unwatchable because of the deliberate darkness (and this was in 2D, without the added darkness of 3D). It’s as though Anderson decided it was too much trouble shooting these scenes and just went, “F*%$ it, let’s just cut it or make it too dark to see anything properly.” It’s unfortunate because some of the ideas in the choreography aren’t all that bad. It even brought back possibly the only memorable idea from the entire franchise (Hint: It has something to do with lasers).

What you end up with is a movie that kicks off from a laughable starting point and premise, makes no sense from a plot perspective, has terrible dialogue, and is visually incoherent. Milla Jovovich does her best as she always does, but it’s not enough—and it’s never been enough—to save the movie. Iain Glen also gives it his best shot, making Dr Isaacs one of the better villains I’ve seen in the franchise, though there’s only so much he could do. The scariest thing about the whole thing is that, just when you think the franchise has reached its sad, wretched conclusion, there is a final wink at the possibility of a sequel. All I know is that if there ever is a Resident Evil: The REAL Final Chapter, I’ll be ready to waste my money on it.

1.5 stars out of 5

PS: Perhaps the film was cursed. I read that Olivia Jackson, Milla’s stunt double, was involved in an accident during filming that left her in a medically-induced coma for two weeks and led to a thumb and then an arm amputation. Another crew member, Ricardo Cornelius, was crushed to death by a prop on set.

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (3D) (2012)

“What the heck just happened?”

Those were my exact words as the credits rolled down the screen at the end of Resident Evil: Retribution (or Resident Evil 5 or RE5, as I would like to call it). At this point, only two things were certain. One, there is definitely going to be a sixth film. And two, RE5 is without a doubt the worst one in the franchise so far.

To put it bluntly, RE5 is a waste of time because nothing really happens. All it does is essentially bridge the literal two-hour gap in storyline between the end of the fourth film (Resident Evil: Afterlife) and the sixth and likely final film of the series. The entire film could have been easily squeezed into the first 20 minutes of the forthcoming final film and saved everyone a lot of pain.

Seriously. The film picks up with Alice (Milla Jovovich) on the freighter from the end of RE4. Shortly after, she’s in an Umbrella testing facility run by the artificial intelligence villain known as the Red Queen. Her friend, Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) is still being controlled by the enemy (via that pendant thing on her chest). A bunch of people led by the long-awaited and much-loved Leon S Kennedy (from the games) teams up with Ada Wong (Chinese actress Li Bingbing in her Hollywood debut) to get Alice out. Zombies and mutant monsters from the games and previous films try to stop them through a variety of artificial locations/scenarios across the globe. Alice kicks ass and looks cool for 95 minutes (very close to real time) — in 3D, mind you. Cue the next film.

I didn’t want to dislike this film. I have followed the series from the beginning, having been a fan of RE since the video game on which the films are based debuted on the PS1 in 1996 (I was one of those kids that nearly peed my pants when the first zombie dog burst through the window in RE1). To be honest, none of the films have been particularly good, but my enjoyment of them were chalked down to misguided enthusiasm and guilty pleasures.

But RE5 has very few redeeming qualities. The hand-to-hand combat sequences are well done and probably represent a new high in the franchise — but that’s about it. The film was like a 95-minute cut scene in a game, except cut scenes these days generally have more plot and make more sense. Non-stop action is supposed to be good, but here if felt mostly bland because we never got the sense that the characters — or at least the ones that count — were ever in any real danger. The initial zombie scenes succeeded in generating some scares, which was the right way to go, but before long it turned into a wild arcade game of endless gunfire that sapped all the excitement.

The lack of sense the movie made was also paralyzing. The Red Queen is somehow constantly a step behind the Alice and her helpers despite them being in a facility she completely controls. Our heroes can stand perfectly still out in the open for minutes firing away and killing enemies without being scraped by one of the thousands of enemy bullets coming their way (when the movie needs them to be alive, that is). They even cannot be hit from point blank range for some reason. Dead characters from earlier films spring back conveniently as clones to give them another paycheck. And Alice is so freaking awesome that I totally forgot she had been stripped of her superhuman viral powers.

This is the sixth time Milla has played Alice so you know what to expect. Most of her acting is physical and she does a fantastic job running, kicking, wielding weapons and firing guns. She has arguably never been more spectacular. Unfortunately, the other characters don’t offer much by way of support.

Sienna Guillory is hilarious as the enemy-controlled Jill Valentine, who spends most of the film trying to look outraged and confused while wearing a cleavy, shiny, skin-tight blue outfit and firing bullets in an awkward stance. Li Bingbing’s Ada Wong is visually stunning — she looks exactly like the CGI character (for a second I almost thought she actually was CGI). But because she spends so much effort in ensuring her English is perfect I think she forgot that she also has to act — as a result all her lines come out like as though she’s reading directly from the script.

Returnees such as Michelle Rodriquez, who died in the first film, and Oded Fehr, who I’m pretty sure also died a few times, were there for the sake of being there. They added nothing other than a familiar face.

My biggest disappointment was Johann Urb, an Estonian-American actor and model who plays Leon S Kennedy, the protagonist from the second and fourth (and soon sixth) video games. While it’s unfair to expect a Li Binging/Ada Wong level of likeness, Urb doesn’t convince me at all. Whether he physically resembles Leon is up to you, but Urb’s character is simply nothing like the charismatic Leon from the game and pales in comparison to the Alice — plus he comes off as a bit of a sleazebag. Fail.

Sadly, even my soft spot for the series could not avoid me feeling let down by RE5. While it has a couple of nicely choreographed fighting sequences, a few cool monsters and the usual awesomeness of Milla Jovovich, the film’s complete lack of plot and sense, coupled with its recycled ideas and wooden supporting cast, makes RE5 the franchise’s most forgettable addition to date. I might have added a star out of my loyalty to the series but I would have taken it away anyway because the film was only released in 3D, which I loathe for reasons I don’t want to rehash again.

1.5 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D) (2010)

I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite, but I must confess that only two posts after I savaged 3D movies (again!), I found Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D) (let’s just call it RE4), rather enjoyable.

Now, it may be because I’ve been a huge fan of the series since it was still a video game.  It may be because I love zombies and mutant monsters.  After all, I’ve watched and liked (to varying degrees) all of the RE films, even though I know it’s not entirely logical.  I don’t pretend the movies are good.  I just like them.

With that in mind, I rate RE4 as one of the better films of the series.  It’s exciting, explosive, slick and outrageous.  And Milla Jovovich certainly gives Angelina Jolie a run for the coolest ass-kicking heroine on the big screen.  Sure, it takes itself a little too seriously, but not all zombie films need to be horror flicks.

RE4 takes place almost immediately after the previous film, not that I can really remember.  Jovovich returns as Alice, the only human who has successfully absorbed the T-virus.  Ali Larter also returns as Claire Redfield, even though she is a much weaker supporting character than I would have liked.  I really liked the casting of Shawn Roberts as super villain Albert Wesker, who does a great job of reminding fans of the character from the video game.

However, the biggest stroke of genius is casting Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield, the original protagonist from the first game!  Not that it was a particularly terrific performance or character, but those who know Miller from the TV series that made him famous (and I don’t mean Dinotopia!)  will chuckle at Chris’s predicament and what he has to do in this film.

Truth be told, the plot is virtually non-existent.  There’s nothing particularly original about any part of the film.  But darn it, RE4 is fun and thrilling to watch.  There’s an abundance of super slo-mo fight scenes, explosions and crazy moves, all for the purpose of making the characters look cool.  And they are!

Kudos to the writers who managed to implement some of the other characters from the video games, such as the Las Plagas face-opening zombies, the giant, axe-wielding monster, and those lovable dobermans.  The fight scene with the axe dude is the highlight of the film, easily edging the somewhat anti-climatic final duel with super Wesker.

As for the 3D?  Well, considering how much I dislike 3D films in general, this was one of the better ones.  I’d say the 3D had a ‘neutral’ effect.  There were some scenes that brought out the positives of 3D — the exploding walls, the lethal propellers and the flying weapons — but these only made up a very small part of the film.  For the rest of the very suitable 97-minute running time, we’re left to tolerate the darkening, uncomfortable 3D glasses through the “boring” parts of the film.

Ultimately, RE4 is not a great or memorable film by any stretch of the imagination.  But if you’re looking for a bit of brainless fun and excitement that isn’t completely ruined by ill-advised 3D technology, then I recommend giving it a go.

3.5 stars out of 5