Seeing as how most of the world is in a self-imposed isolation, or social distancing as we’re now calling it, not a whole lot is happening in the film industry. The world and culture in general have just kind of been put on pause while we protect ourselves from the coronavirus. As always, make sure that you follow the CDC guidelines, wash your hands, and try to stay positive during this time.
So now with that out of the way, let’s talk about a FICTIONAL global virus that doomed the world! Ha ha ha! Ha! Ha. Ha…
For some bizarre reason, Resident Evil is a billion dollar film franchise that’s composed of six movies that span 15 years and all of them are trash. Not just a few of them. All of them are terrible. So while I’ve been socially distancing myself from work and responsibilities, I thought it would be fun to watch the Resident Evil movies and have a good laugh at their expense. Except none of them are entertainingly bad. I kid you not, by the time I was halfway through the second movie in the series, I regretted ever trying to watch this franchise spawned from the mind of Paul W.S. Anderson and starring his wife Milla Jovovich. Why would anyone watch these movies? Why did they make hundreds of millions of dollars? More importantly, how did this franchise get such a loyal audience?
So in the face of a global pandemic, plus Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich’s upcoming Monster Hunter movie, AND Resident Evil 3 launching next month, now seems like the perfect time to suffer at my own expense. Normally I would rank movies from worst to best, but let’s not kid ourselves here. All of these movies are disposable trash. So instead, I’m going to rank these movies from bad to worst. Why start with the least bad first? Because I don’t want to blow my load so soon deprive you all of the chance to see my descent into madness.
Because I love you all, dear readers.
1. Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D (2010)
You know we’re off to a bad start when a movie with a 3D gimmick is the least bad movie in the franchise. In case you’re not aware, while these movies may be called Resident Evil, they have absolutely nothing to do with the game series besides featuring a few characters from the series (in name only of course) and having a ton of zombies. All of the movies follow Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, a “badass” heroine who has no personality and isn’t compelling in the slightest. Every movie has Anderson filming his wife as a dominatrix who will either wear something revealing or just get naked to make sure the audience is aware that Milla Jovovich is sexy. We get it Paul, your wife is hot. Please stop reminding us about it.
Getting back on track here, Afterlife feels like the most… complete movie in the series? The movie features Alice with a group of survivors trying to find out about a mysterious civilization called Arcadia, which is rumored to be infection free. At this point, the world has been overrun by zombies and there are only a few pockets of civilization left, so there’s a clear goal for our characters. Also, the fact that this movie has a clear plotline is its only saving grace. I can actually follow what I’m supposed to be watching. Every other movie is bad in different flavors, but Afterlife is more mediocre than anything.
Albert Wesker stars as the main villain this time (the antagonists change with every movie. Get used to it) and most of his fight scenes are just shot-for-shot stolen from Resident Evil 5. I mean, at least his over-the-top action scenes are entertaining, even if the opening is ludicrous, featuring an army of Alice clones in skin-tight leather attacking Wesker’s Umbrella facility. Also Alice has superpowers for the past two movies that gave her super strength and telekinesis because SCIENCE. It’s mindless schlock that takes itself way too seriously, but at least it’s sort of done well? I wasn’t bored watching it. So that’s a compliment.
2. Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
And now the quality of this film franchise goes right down the drain! Retribution is what happens when you have 15 minutes worth of plot that you stretch out to 90 minutes thanks to copious fight scenes that aren’t done well at all. This movie actually expects you to remember a lot of the plot from the previous movies, which is next to impossible. I watched one of these movies each day and I could barely remember the plot because the goals and motivations of the characters change every installment. In Afterlife, Wesker robbed Alice of her powers and wanted to capture her for Umbrella. Now in this movie, Wesker wants to free Alice from Umbrella and gives her powers back for no apparent reason.
Plenty of characters from the video games pop up for the first time in the series, like Leon Kennedy, Barry Burton, and Ada Wong, while returning characters like Jill Valentine reappear after nearly a decade. This includes no name side characters from the first movie that everyone forgot existed. They have no personality or build-up to them, they’re just there because.
But for as much as Retribution wants to put everything so far into context, 80% of the movie is lifeless action. There’s nothing really cool or fun about these scenes. I should be all for watching Russian zombies on motorcycles with machine guns, but I couldn’t be bothered to give a damn. It’s all shot in complete darkness so I couldn’t even see any of the underwhelming special effects. The only CGI I made out was an ugly monster that our heroes have to fight against for a third of the movie. There is a pretty neat action scene at the end, but given that it’s mostly between Jill Valentine and Alice and both of them have the emotional capacity of drywall, it’s not worth the wait. Oh, and the ending teases that Alice, Wesker, Jill, Ada, and Leon are going to fight a zombie horde in DC? Never followed up again and Jill, Ada, and Leon don’t show up in the final film. Of course.
3. Resident Evil (2002)
The crappy one that started it all. On reflection, the original Resident Evil is inoffensive and includes just the right amount of fan-service to scrape by, but that’s only because the franchise was much smaller back in 2002 and inserting some Cerberus dogs, mentioning the T-Virus, or talking about Nemesis was all that you really needed to do to be faithful to the games. Umbrella was still a corporation that was conducting secret and horrifying experiments, and the movie at least keeps it simple with having a group of soldiers and an amnesiac Alice escaping an underground Umbrella facility. The only problem is that it’s SOOOOOO BOOOORING.
It’s not until the halfway point of the movie that we start to get some zombie action, and even then it’s nothing to write home about. This was before zombies became oversaturated, but I can’t deny that seeing basic, slow-moving zombies just doesn’t inspire any fear or tension in me. All of the enemies here feel completely generic and as our characters escape from this facility, called The Hive, I realize that everyone is expendable. It’s refreshing to see that Alice isn’t the uber-badass she would become, but right when the movie is about to get interesting, it just ends.
What I find interesting about this movie is that it feels like a product of its time. It’s an early 2000’s action movie with all of the sensibilities and poor CGI of the period (wow those Lickers look bad), but the franchise never evolves from here. Even during the “epic conclusion” of the series in 2017, Paul W.S. Anderson was still using special effects and making stylistic decisions that would feel right at home in 2002. That’s not really Resident Evil’s fault, but this movie has aged about as well as the original X-Men.
4. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Now we’re really in the shit. The first of two Resident Evil movies not directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, Apocalypse is a movie that has an identity crisis, consisting of two parts that have virtually nothing to do with each other. The movie actually stars Jill Valentine and is a near one-to-one recreation of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Jill and Carlos are trying to escape Raccoon City, all while being pursued by Nemesis, a monster created by Umbrella specifically designed to hunt down members of the police organization S.T.A.R.S. Nemesis unfortunately doesn’t appear until we’re nearly two-thirds of the way through the movie, but seeing a deadly monster like him pursue our heroes, who are always scavenging for supplies, feels authentic to the games.
And then Alice shows up.
Picture this; Jill, Carlos, and a reporter are in a church. They’re trying to hide and fight against three Lickers who are hopping around and have already mutilated a few civilians. They’re holding their own somewhat, but struggle to take a single Licker down. Then Alice comes crashing through a window, shotguns all three Lickers with ease, then takes complete control of the situation as the rest of the characters become side-characters for the remainder of the movie. Even though Anderson didn’t direct this movie, he still produced and wrote it, so all of his fanaticism with his wife and making Alice this nigh unstoppable badass with God mode enabled force their way in once more.
I can’t stress this enough; no one cares about Alice. She’s barely a character and she exists just to make Resident Evil into an action franchise. You know how fans of the video games were upset about the more action-oriented direction the series began to take in Resident Evil 4 up through 6? Apocalypse feels like it takes all of the action of Resident Evil 6 and shoves it into a story that didn’t need that much action. Combine that with a forgettable villain and trying to make Nemesis, an unstoppable killing machine, sympathetic and you have a frustratingly awful movie.
5. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)
What makes The Final Chapter so bad has nothing to do with the action. Okay, the action still sucks, but that’s not the main issue. It has nothing to do with Alice still being as compelling as graph paper, though that still holds true as well. No, what kills any and all enjoyment for The Final Chapter is that only now, after 15 years, does Paul W.S. Anderson try to make sense out of the story. After several movies of dropped cliffhangers and characters disappearing and reappearing with no context, he attempts to have everything make sense.
He fails spectacularly.
Retcons appear with abandon, with facts from previous movies being disregarded, even though they were proven to be true in previous movies. Umbrella’s motivation apparently was never to develop a superweapon to sell to governments, it was to create a religious purge for the Umbrella executives to live on a new Earth. Umbrella developed a cure to the T-Virus, except they already developed one years ago as well. It was a central plot point in the first two movies. One of the villains from a previous movie is back now thanks to cloning, and Wesker’s enhanced abilities from previous movies just don’t appear anymore.
It says a lot that what was once barely comprehensible has now lost all clarity. Characters appear and die without getting any real introduction or development. When the movie isn’t piss-yellow thanks to color correction it’s black as night, making all action impossible to discern. The CGI continues to be garbage and nothing about this movie feels satisfying. It ends the franchise, but it doesn’t feel like it ended. Alice still goes riding off into the sunset saying that she has work to do while zombie dragons chase her and I just can’t even begin to explain how little I care. Also, this is the longest movie in the franchise by a fair bit and it feels that way. It felt like it would never end and I kept wondering to myself how this made over $300 million at the box office. I guess people were really bored in January of 2017.
6. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
I can’t with this movie. I simply can’t. I hated every second I had with this movie. Resident Evil: Extinction is terrible. I now consider it as one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. It takes every problem from the series, past and future, and successfully sandwiches them into a Mad Max knock-off mold and is an abomination for it. It completely disregards everything established by the first two movies in favor of just turning this series into a generic action blockbuster franchise. For example, the two movies before this portray the Umbrella corporation as at least attempting to be benevolent and pass themselves off as not mustache twirlingly evil, but all of that is abandoned here. Umbrella is evil because they’re evil and is trying to wipe out humanity because they’re evil. All subtleties are gone, replaced with moronic decisions.
Speaking of, Alice is now pretty much Superman, being able to kill any zombie without any difficulty and gaining psychic powers because of DNA. Every character, Alice included, are fucking idiots, making terrible decisions because the plot demands it. What’s this? Someone got bit by a zombie and is slowly turning but refuses to tell anyone? Well, this guy’s an idiot and the survivors he’s with are idiots for not being able to tell that he’s turning! Also, apparently Alice’s blood has the ability to cure the T-Virus despite the past two movies establishing that there was already an antidote developed to the T-Virus! To only heighten the stupidity, the entire plot is just predicated on Alice finding a sketchy journal in a gas station claiming that Alaska is free from the zombie apocalypse, so Alice just assumes the journal is true and everyone should totally go there because the gas station journal must be right. IDIOTS.
But I can forgive a dumb plot. I can forgive stupid characters. I can even forgive ripping off much better movies as long as it’s still entertaining to watch, but it isn’t. This is a slog to get through in every conceivable way. There’s hardly any action in this ACTION MOVIE. Instead it’s focused on characterization for characters that will not appear in future movies, or fleshing out Alice and trying to force us into thinking she’s an action heroine. You want to know who are some awesome female badasses in cinema? Ripley! Imperator Furiosa! Sarah Connor! All of them are awesome heroines because they have solid characterization and are cool to watch, but if we have to be told at the start of every single movie what Alice’s characterization is, then she is a terrible character. We’re told she’s awesome and every character tells her how cool and awesome she is, but it feels less like the characters are saying this and more Paul Anderson telling everyone that his wife is super hot and super cool and super awesome and GOD THIS FRANCHISE SUCKS!!!
Everyone’s a moron, none of it is fun, and this franchise is simply awful! I have zero faith in the Monster Hunter movie after this and I’m sorry for all of the Resident Evil fans that have had to put up with this crap for 15 years. At least you have some really good games to play through. Filmgoers meanwhile just had pure shit. Pure, dripping, diarrhea shit.