Well, after six movies and 15 years, the Resident Evil movie saga is finally ov….wait, they announced a week after the last movie hit Blu Ray that they’re rebooting the whole franchise? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! So….yes, Sony has already announced that Resident Evil is being rebooted and James Wan is talks to oversee. Why would this happen when this movie (which I promise we’ll actually get around to discussing soon) bombed spectacularly in the United States? Well, that would be entirely because the movie made a sarcastically absurd amount of money in China, bringing the overall gross of the franchise to $1.2 billion and Sony doesn’t do original ideas, so in a few years, we’ll have The Umbrella Corporation, the T-Virus, zombies, and people shooting zombies back in theaters. But since I am a completionist and made myself finish out the series with the “final” chapter. How did things go? We’re still waiting for that first great video game movie. But on the upside, you still have a few days left to find another way to celebrate National Zombie Awareness Month (yes, I’m serious).
The first Resident Evil film is probably still the best video game adaptation ever made. The series has always dieted on a healthy amount of cheese, but so do the video games, so the mystery of the mansion, the Red Queen, the iconic laser grid, the HIVE, and Raccoon City all combined to make a very satisfying first film. Films two and three had diminishing returns, but were still keeping the franchise a guilty pleasure. Had THIS film been the fourth and final film, it would be getting a much higher grade as would the franchise as a whole. However, this is the sixth film and films four and five were nearly unwatchable in their awfulness. Then, there was a five-year gap between the fifth film and this one. Like Underworld: Blood Wars earlier this year, that kind of gap is death for B-movie franchises late in their run. This movie DID manage to exceed the nightmare that was Underworld 4….that’s not a huge compliment.
Given the five-year gap, the movie smartly opens with a recap of the series plot, emphasizing especially the events of the first film, because The Final Chapter is going to pull things round full circle. At the end of the fifth film Alice (Milla Jovovich) and company were led to Washington D.C. and into a trap. Lots of zombies and explosions; things (as they typically do for people not named ‘Alice’) went very badly for humanity. Film six takes place 10 years after the original film. By this time, the virus has wiped out all but 3,400 humans on the planet and those 3,400 are on a 48-hour deadline as Umbrella is closing in on the last of the human strongholds. Alice receives this information from an unlikely source: The Red Queen-the AI computer program/creepy child that spent the first movie trying to kill Alice and her friends during their romp through Umbrella’s HQ: The HIVE. She informs Alice that Umbrella has an airborne antivirus that will kill anything infected with the T-Virus on contact, so she better hightail it back to Raccoon City or we will truly be living on a planet of apes, no, sorry wrong franchise…got confused for a second.
Why The Red Queen would help Alice is spoiler territory. What Final Chapter does do is give definitive answers to the series’ questions. You’ll manage to figure out most of them from the information given in the prologue by the time they’re “revealed”, but points for closing up old business. Alice’s journey from DC to RC is essentially one long chase scene between herself and an old series nemesis. It gives us a few cool moments, but also a lot of eye-rolling, as well. Like I said, if they’d not spent so much time getting to this and padded it with two films of nothing, they’d have had a lot more in the way of good will left in the bank to roll with the cheese. There really is only one impressive (if you ignore physics) action sequence in the film, and that happens when Alice arrives in Raccoon City and runs into old friend Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and picks up her new team of people who are sure to be eaten by zombies for the rest of the film. From there, it’s nearly a reverse of the first time as the delve deeper and deeper into the HIVE in search of the cure and a final round of answers.
Paul WS Anderson is not a good director, and the film is not shot terribly well. The monsters wasted in films four and five should have been a gauntlet of awesome boss fights in this film. Instead we get some murky encounters, during one of which I honestly couldn’t even follow what was happening, and our old friend “evil laser grid” should have been the capper on a zombie showdown for the ages, not the only fun thing about the HIVE. Had so many series baddies and time not been wasted, this could have been something. But with Milla Jovovich not exactly known for her acting prowess, they needed resources already spent and this should have come out at least seven years ago before franchise fatigue sapped anyone of any interest….except, apparently, the Chinese. One day, I swear, there is going to be a great video game adaptation (next year’s Tomb Raider is my current hope), but this was definitely not it. It’s finally over…..LET’S DO IT ALL AGAIN!!!