The Resident Evil series is now synonymous with the B-Series Action/Horror film genre. What started as a different take on the beloved game series has now evolved into its own entity, with its own universe, versions of classic characters and slight changes to the game lore.
With Resident Evil: The Final Chapter now released in Cinema’s worldwide, Its time to go back and look at the 5 films so far in order to pick out both the best, the worst, and the rest of the series so far.
5: Resident Evil: Extinction.
The 3rd film in series is also the weakest. IT relies on imbuing supernatural powers to the protagonist Alice to keep things fresh along with a change of setting.
No explanation for previous film events is given leading to a slight *well how and why did that happen then* feeling despite the intro dialogue that attempts to solve this issue.
The characters are not fleshed out enough, with the films heart relying upon the continuation of two films from the precious entry ‘Apocalypse’. It does introduce ‘Claire Redfield to the series and has a memorable set piece involving the Las Vegas strip however this is about as far as this entry in the series can possibly go.
The little I have to write about this film shows how much of an impact it had on me. NONE
4: Resident Evil: Retribution.
The 5th and latest film in the franchise (before ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) only just misses out on last place in this list as it did not bore me as much as ‘Extinction’ did and kept me entertained with its fan service to the games (which I am only aware of from reading up on the game series before re-watching the film series).
The return of franchise characters such as Jill Valentine and Luthor West while introducing game alumni’s Leon S Kennedy (Voted IGN’s character of the series) and Ada Wong was a welcome part the film. However, on a negative side of the character development the lack of explanation of what happened to Chris and Claire Redfield following the Umbrella Attack on the Ship Arcadia at the end of Resident Evil: Afterlife, was a bit jarring.
Introducing the ‘Las Plagas’ strain of the ‘T-Virus’ was a clever way to introduce Leon, Ada and the Las Plagas parasite in one stroke however had I not read up beforehand on the games and understood this evolution of the T- Virus would have been very very confused. There is no explanation given to what ‘Las Plagas’ is or why those infected can be undead whilst also wielding advanced machinery such as guns and cars.
What really stands out for me in this film however is the use of 1 on 1 fights particularly the Valentine vs Alice fight. These fights are well choreographed and add to the tension and spectacle of the film.
Finally, on the plus points for the film is the music, the sound designers did a great job picking the music for certain points of the film and it can’t help but get you pumped for certain scenes even if they are not all that worthy of the excitement.
3: Resident Evil: Afterlife
After the disaster that is Resident Evil: Extinction it was a relief that its follow up brought the series somewhat closer to its roots with a single enclosed setting serving as the main location.
The events of Extinction are followed up upon (with the compulsory amnesia twist – they had to get it in somewhere in the series), and Resident Evil game series stalwart Chris Redfield makes his debut played by Wentworth Miller (Irony given the films Prison setting) who performs admirably given he has little to say of any real substance. One other thing this film has going for it is that by this point the viewer is open to plot holes in places and a sense that this is not a realistic style zombie horror film but is now embracing its action horror inspiration from the games.
Just as the games moved from a fixed perspective, puzzling and tension filled genre with Resident Evil 1 and 2 specifically. They then moved on to an 3rd person action game that retained elements of the original with Resident Evil 4 being touted as one of the best games in the series let alone one of the best games ever.
So it is appropriate the 4th film in the film series handles that transition well despite the step too far that was Extinction.
The film climaxes with more action than horror but involving characters that fans enjoy and as such this can then be tolerated and sets itself up for a sequel (normally a cardinal sin for me) in a manner that did leave me interested for the next film.
2: Resident Evil
The film that began it all. A new take on the T-Virus outbreak, one that didn’t just copy the film as many video game adaptations have tried (and failed) to do, but take its idea and create a new story and world for the Resident Evil franchise.
The story not only is grounded (well as grounded as a zombie film with mutating monsters can be) in a story of corporate espionage, but also there are no super powers for protagonist Alice, she is the wit and brain of the films cast while the brawn is supplied by noteworthy actors such as Colin Salmon, Michelle Rodrigues and Eric Mabius.
The film has its share of jump scares and horror moments (the elevator scene in particular springs to mind) and while setting up its own story it does give us glimpses into its larger world, the world of Umbrella (the nod to the nemesis program at the end of the film is a nice bit of fan service).
The large mass of undead slowly filling the secret underground base provide a real threat for the characters other than the sudden ease in which they escape to the Hive train station. This is perhaps the films biggest flaw is the hurriedness of its climax, it’s almost like the studio gave them a desired time length and as such the end of the film is highly cut in order to fit the ending in.
While the first resident evil film does a lot right its few flaws mean it can only reach 2nd place on this list.
1: Resident Evil: Apocalypse
The 2nd film in the series somehow manages to recapture what made the first film good and improves upon it by removing the enclosed setting of the hive and showing up a T-virus ravaged Racoon City. However, despite this large scale setting the film succeeds in finding and creating closed in and vulnerable environments for the characters to move through along with demonstrating the confines that a city creates both through its buildings (the woman being chased up a stairwell) and its people (the citizens queuing to move through the umbrella evacuation point on the bridge).
Apocalypse introduces Jill Valentine to the film world as a strong, take charge character and matches her with Alice who is developing physical and mental enhancements thanks to the T-virus. The rest of the ensemble is a memorable cast also, the soldier in Carlos who is trying to keep his team alive and the humorous L-J who adds some levity to the film without it seeming out of place.
The action set pieces are great and somehow manage to keep an air of danger, the attack in the church and the final set piece with Nemesis particularly stick in my mind.
The only flaw of this film is its ending, having escaped Racoon City just before Nuclear oblivion the helicopter crashes supposedly killing all on board before showing the reanimation of Alice in an Umbrella facility, the problem is no explanation is given for how the other people in the helicopter survived the crash and found Alice’s location before arriving just in time for her to escape giving perfect meaning to the idea of coincidental timing.
So those are the 5 Resident Evil films currently available on home release. Do you agree with the order? Do you have any positives or negatives for any of the films you want to share?