By Jack Dignan
Originally Published on Salty Popcorn - You Can Find Several Other Reviews By Jack Dignan Here As Well
How did we get here? How did we allow this to happen? We’re now 15 years deep into the RESIDENT EVIL movie franchise, and the fact that that’s not a joke bewilders me. The franchise started out as a mediocre video game adaptation, finding success through the game’s original fan base and through general fans of horror. It makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that the franchise never died. It could’ve wrapped things up after the third one, merely ending with a subpar but not excruciating trilogy of films nobody’s going to remember. Alas, here we are, six films deep and my personal wellbeing once again insulted.
The world has fallen into a wasteland. All previous shreds of humanity are gone, replaced with mass destruction, constant silence, and a never-ending feeling that you’re not alone. This should’ve lead to great things. It doesn’t. Our hero, Alice (Milla Jovovich), makes her way through the rubble, only to find herself met with danger once more. Narrowly escaping with her life, she drives away, continuing her search for survivors. It’s an escape that’s cut short, running into members of the Umbrella Corporation who take her as a hostage, led by returning villain, Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glenn).
Having fallen victim to their trap, Alice’s chances of survival are looking slim, but it’s in her darkest hour that she finds an unexpected ally. Umbrella’s artificial intelligence system, The Red Queen (Ever Anderson), has decided to turn against her own company for reasons she refuses to admit. She provides Alice with a mission, and that is to infiltrate the Umbrella Corporation and steal the cure for the deadly T-Virus before it’s used one final time, killing off all the remaining humans for good. With a countdown clock ticking away on her arm, it’s game on as she races off in search of where to go.
Expectations are always low when it comes to the RESIDENT EVIL films, but when the first trailer for RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER was released it had me confused. This is a franchise with deep horror roots; the video game series still a major success, even more so than the films are. Yet the first trailer for this movie, and the only one I saw, didn’t seem to advertise that. There were zombies and weird flying creatures, sure, but it had more of a fun action movie vibe to it than anything else, even using “Paradise City” as a backtrack. It appeared to be an outlier in the franchise, something that rung true when watching the film. Gone are its horror days, now replaced with mindless, fast cutting action.
This isn’t me saying that the original films are good, they’re not, but at least they knew what this franchise was. Horror, as a genre, is restraining. A lot of premises are recycled and updated due to the limitations within the genre. With five movies wasted down the drain, reactions evenly mixed amongst viewers (I’ve noticed an increasing number of fans lately and I honestly don’t know where they came from), it seems writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson wanted to change things up. But was this really the change up we needed? Sure, ending the franchise with RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION would’ve left things on an ambiguous, open-ended finale, but would anyone actually care? In hindsight, it’s a much better idea than milking the franchise even more to deliver whatever the fuck it is I watched.
Throughout all 106 agonizing minutes, I found my mind wandering. I was reimaging this film as a good film, an objective that’s a lot more difficult than it should be. If the premise was muddled with a little bit, making the plot more zombie-based, it could’ve been exciting. If the cinematography and editing didn’t rely on having four different cuts every second (LITERALLY), maybe my eyes wouldn’t have started bleeding halfway through. The premise of RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER is a replica of a thousand other zombie movie premises, only done to a much poorer degree. It’s worked before, but it doesn’t work here.
It’s almost as if the studio went out of their way to make as many poor decisions as they possibly could. It feels like they’re trying to fuck with us in a ploy to see if we really will watch any old garbage they throw our way. When Dr. Isaacs was revealed to be a clone for like the fifth time in this movie, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, and I wasn’t the only one. Laughs were plentiful at the packed out press screening earlier this week, nobody able to contain themselves when characters delivered such craptastic lines as “the trinity of bitches,” a personal favourite of mine. There’s even a moment in which two characters analyse possible outcomes for a rather tricky situation, six possible outcomes shown and each one even more hilarious than the last.
In order to relay information to the audience, one character is shown security footage from an event that takes place prior to the deadly virus being spread throughout the world. There’s so many things wrong with this scene, whether it’s the fact that they’re not even subtle about accidentally giving away the film’s biggest plot twist or that my two-year-old cousin could’ve written better dialogue for it. What actually made me let out a sigh of relief when this scene started was that it opened with a shot that lasted more than three seconds. It was glorious. My eyes were able to take a break from the hammering they’d just received, but sadly, this joy was unable to last long. Even during a business meeting, the film insists on making infuriating cuts every second, sometimes even less than that.
Let’s play a game. Imagine a blank piece of paper floating ominously in the air. Now, imagine that this piece of paper now has the word “Alice” written on the top using the finest chalk money can buy. Now, watch as this chalk-riddled piece of paper is running through the streets with a gun, shooting as many things as it can. Do you know much about this piece of paper? No. Do you care for it? No. But you’re probably more invested in it, and it probably has more character depth than any character in this entire movie. Everyone in this film is just a crumpled up piece of paper used purely to allow for a varying amount of gruesome deaths.
I guess this could be considered a minor spoiler, but do you really care? I’d hope not. So basically, after rescuing a group of survivors from the Umbrella Corporation, two of them insist on tagging along with Alice and her one-dimensional side characters. Despite knowing absolutely nothing about them, where they’re from, or if they’re even capable of assisting them in a highly skilled invasion of a billion dollar, booby-trapped underground bunker (I think they literally walked in the front door though, so whoever was in charge of security doesn’t deserve their job), they’re allowed to tag along. We don’t even learn their names, making it fairly obvious what their fate is going to be like. And wouldn’t you know, those two are the first to fall victim to an army of zombie dogs. Yeah, just in case you thought the film couldn’t get any worse, they do that.
If I were given the option of living through the events of this movie or watching the film again, I’m certainly not going to be picking the second option. If this film doesn’t make it into my 10 Worst Films of 2017 come December, I’ll be extremely disappointed and understandably frustrated. Perhaps a few tears may even be shed, as we could be in for a very long year. Let’s hope this is as bad as it gets, because if not….well, I don’t really want to find out what is.
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