Monday, June 12, 2017

All Okay Franchises Must Come To An End (until they're rebooted one year later)

Paul W.S. Anderson's Resident Evil series will never go down in history as being the Nightmare On Elm Street of its time, but it would be incredibly wrong to discount some of its achievements. Coming out the same year as 28 Days Later, it took an ambitious step in embracing zombies in an age that hadn't seen an undead hit in over a decade. More importantly, from the very beginning, the movies made an admirable and genuinely successful effort to include not one but always two badass female action heroes. 

Milla Jovovich has such a clear affection for this franchise, and it has shown itself onscreen for six full films. Though the actual products ultimate range in quality and never quite hit the highest tier of horror, that in itself carries them to being something special in their own way. 

Quick Plot: For a series of action horror flicks based on a video game, there's a surprising lack of easy plotting when it comes to most Resident Evil movies. This is perhaps best encompassed by Alice's narrated prologue montage...which takes a full five minutes.

Here's my incredibly concise rundown of what I remember thus far of the first 5 RE films:

Part 1: Alice has amnesia and excellent fashion sense. There's a Cube-like hallway that slices up people, zombies, zombie dogs, hologram British girl, a super angry Michelle Rodriquez, and a Day of the Dead homage at the end.

Part 2, Apocalypse: Everything and everyone is stupid in Raccoon City. No more Cube things, but still zombies, zombie dogs, some sort of zombie giant hybrid monster, and a pimp

Part 3, Extinction: Las Vegas is covered by zombies. Ali Larter helps Alice kill said zombies. I remember nothing else.

Part 4, Something: Wentworth Miller joins the group. I remember nothing.


The only odd thing? It ends, and Part 6 starts, and as far as I can tell, nothing that happened in that one matters.

So here we are, in the swan song of Paul W.S. Anderson's epic (ignoring the fact that a week after I watched this, less than a year after it debuted, it was announced that the series would be rebooted because this is 2017 and we let nothing die). Alice finally has the chance to save the world by releasing an antivirus that would kill all the undead, zombie dogs, zombie pterodactyls, and whatever other CGI creations have been unleashed. 

Alice re-teams with Claire, who now has a new band of feisty (and mostly ill-fated) survivors. Together, they scale through an army of Jorah Mormont clones, zombies, industrial fans, and the return of the Cube-inspired chamber that still makes no sense. 

Look, I'll be honest with you: I am not the person to go to for any kind of sensical recap of what happens in the Resident Evil movies. While I proudly paid to see the first three in the theaters, I've never watched them in full since. I watched parts 4 & 5 (or "the bland Wentworth Miller one" and "the clone one," as I like to call them) off of a recorded SyFy airing while doing other things, like playing Words With Friends or, you know, writing reviews of horror films. I am no expert in Alice's Adventures in Raccoon City. 

That doesn't take too much annoyance out of my sails when Part 6 opens up with no reference to what happened to the few survivors left from The One With the Little Girl From Orphan Who Wasn't the Orphan. Again, I'll fully admit that I might have just missed something, but...did I? Or does Part 6 just start fairly fresh?

I'll put that mild annoyance aside because you know what? The Final Chapter is pretty fun. Unlike most of the other ones, the plot is fairly straightforward with few complications, making it all the more pleasurable to sit back and watch Milla Jovovich wrestle genetically engineered monster thingies. Seriously, if there is one thing Milla Jovovich is good at, it's wrestling genetically engineered monster thingies.

Said monster thingies are never that special (it's been a week since I've watched the movies and I'm having a hard time remembering a thing about any of them) and most of the non-Alice/Claire/Jorah Mormont characters blend into the background so well that I'd believe it if you told me they were also computer generated. But anybody that comes into a Resident Evil movie expecting much more than that hasn't learned a lesson in the last 15 years. 

High Points
It's the high point for all six films, but come on: Resident Evil's commitment to making its female characters heroic and strong warriors is something special

Low Points
That very small part of my brain hung up on things like logic couldn't accept it 15 years ago, and still can't quite let it go: it's a chamber with the ability to laser cut living matter in any configuration, so why, seriously WHY does it not just, you know, LASER CUT IN ONE PASS?

Lessons Learned
Nail guns are cost-effective weapons when fighting zombie hordes

Skyline transportation is not an advisable means of travel in the early stages of a zombie apocalypse

The nice thing about the future is that hands are easily replaceable. The less nice thing is, you know, the zombie apocalypse

As another entry in the Resident Evil series, The Last Chapter is perfectly solid entertainment. As the grand finale of a 15 years-in-the-making 6-film franchise, it's adequate. As a chance to watch Milla Jovovich wear leather and kick ass, it's kind of glorious.  

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