Let’s start this off with an admission – I enjoy the Resident Evil movies.
I have rarely been able to watch a movie for simply popcorn value. There are few that I have enjoyed for simply the rollercoaster value of the story. Stories that get me excited usually have well-developed worlds, complex and intelligent characters, and unique stories. Some action movies can have these elements but they can get pushed aside or buried in all the eye-splosions.
I am also a huge fan of horror movies. Almost everything gets a chance except for torture porn. Never really found a purpose in it. The ones that are the most interesting are the ones with malevolent spirits, zombies, or horrific situations. Monster movies rarely pay off. Perhaps I’ll share my top list at some point.
With that out there – I fully acknowledge that the Resident Evil movies barely contains what I usually look for in good movies. It isn’t horror (anymore), the world is complex (through its convolutedness), and the characters are all one-dimensional (except for Alice who might actually have had an interesting character journey).
And yet – there are very few movies that blend all the elements that Resident Evil movies seem capable of doing. Since it exists so far outside of normal rules it seems capable of stretching believe-ability much further than other action movies.
I have been a fan of the Resident Evil movies since the first one came out in 2002. My exposure to the video games was fairly limited so I was able to enjoy the movies without a lot of passion for the series. I knew of various plotlines and some of the characters but as most movies deviate I wasn’t concerned. In college I was able to play about an hour of the original Resident Evil game on PlayStation and later played and won the remake on Nintendo GameCube. The games were complex and interesting with suspense, horror, action, mystery and surprise all rolled into one unique package. The only other one that I played was Resident Evil 4, which introduced the zombie strain of Las Plagas, which plays a dominant role in Resident Evil: Retribution.
Spoiler free comments to follow…
Resident Evil: Retribution is the 5th and most painful addition to the movie franchise. In the grand scheme of things this segment contributes almost nothing to the series. Characters long since dead are re-introduced, new characters are added with minimal background, and continuing characters feel included as fan service for this chaotic menagerie. There are entire sequences, using 3D holographic displays, that fly through the complex as if it were an actual video game. The characters literally have to go through zones, complete objectives, and then move on to the next zone. It felt like an odd reboot of “Running Man” more than a Resident Evil movie. It was also like the old-school game “Smash TV” – a game about a contestant who goes from room to room in an attempt to survive and win the game show. Once I put that layer onto the movie, it became much more enjoyable to watch the senseless and plot-less actions on the screen.
The action sequences were over the top with the odds being 1:50+ in many scenarios – and the bad guys unable to hit anything. And who are the good guys fighting against this time? The well-known zombies of past installments are gone and replaced with predominately big “boss” style monsters that continue to plague the characters. Let’s not forget that there are zombies that now wield guns and drive cars and tanks. Not really sure how to explain that one away in any reasonable way.
And typical of the end of each Resident Evil movie, this one ends with yet another cliffhanger. The entire movie ends up feeling like a setup for the next one. Paul Anderson says that if this one does well that the next one will be the final installment. I hope that this one does just well enough so that we can finally wrap this story up – but it saddens me that in order to get the completion of the story that I have enjoyed – I have to give them money for this. Bummer.
I wonder what will fill the void once these are gone. Have you heard about anything coming our way that sounds just as exciting? The World War Z movie has been having some issues but looks promising!