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John’s Horror Corner: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), bringing 15 years of Milla Jovovich’s zombie-slaying and clone confusion to a close.

June 11, 2017

 

MY CALL:  Not great. Kinda’ bad. Finally giving us some closure on the story.  Still entertaining to franchise fans.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Resident EvilResident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), Doom (2005), the Silent Hill movies (2006, 2012) and the Underworld franchise (2003-2017) come to mind.  For a fine ratings vs earnings comparison of the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises check this feisty article out.

It seems that asking folks to list the Resident Evil movies in order of quality would be harder than getting an entire theater of fans to agree on pizza toppings—I’d say 1, 3, 5, 2, 6, 4.  This sixth franchise installment, as with each of its predecessors, manages to deliver a new take on presenting the Resident Evil world and the next step in an elaborately plot-holey but perfectly followable plot.  The movie opens right where Retribution (2012) left off—in the dilapidated remains of the White House.

Now with our fifth sequel, we have our fifth recap narration by Alice (Milla Jovovich; The Fifth Element, Resident Evil 1-6, Ultraviolet).  With each sequel offering a slightly different recap, some adding more to backstory than others, The Final Chapter offers the richest and most informative origin inklings about the Red Queen and Dr. Isaacs’ (Iain Glen; Game of Thrones, Darkness, Resident Evil: Apocalypse) involvement in the T-Virus outbreak.

Apparently, over the course of the first five movies, the human population has been reduced to about 4000 and in another 48 hours it will be zero.  Now that Wesker (Shawn Roberts; Resident Evil 4-6, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage)—who apparently was lying to Alice in Retribution (2012) and was really evil the whole time—is back in control at Umbrella, the Red Queen is a bit nervous about how things are being run and has recruited Alice’s help to now save mankind.  It turns out there has been an airborne antivirus back in Racoon City this whole time and now the Red Queen wants to be friends.  Welcome to “the upside down” world!

During her trip back to The Hive, Alice tours a world that now resembles The Walking Dead, complete with ambush jerks, booby traps and Dr. Isaacs prattling about the meek inheriting the world while running a mobile tank cult.  This leads to a long tank fight action sequence (which is okay) and then a tank chase scene (which featured too many videogame special effects for me to enjoy).

Alice joins forces with a friendly group of survivors including Claire (Ali Larter; House on Haunted Hill, Final Destination 1-2, Resident Evil 3-4), Doc (Eoin Macken; The Forest, Centurion) and Abigail (Ruby Rose; John Wick 2, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage).  Of all six movies, these allies seem to matter the least in this one.  Too bad.  So, I’ll just stop discussing them now even though they’re in most of the movie.

My favorite action sequence was the giant flying monster attack (early in the movie), which may have included some stop-motion effects.  But most of the action was squandered.  We have a horde of zombies that doesn’t matter much when it should matter most, largely because they were dispatched way too easily to take seriously by waves of videogame graphic explosions.  The battle with the horde could have been awesome, but the scale and urgency just wasn’t there.

Another problem, much as was the case in Retribution (2012), was that great fight choreography + lousy action photography and fast-cut choppy editing = crappy action.

From my Retribution review: “Minus a few story-building scenes, this movie essentially boils down to a continuous 90-minute action sequence.  This probably sounds amazing, right?  It wasn’t.  All the action felt a lot like “background action” in an otherwise great action movie.  You know?  Like when Optimus Prime was fighting Megatron, there were soldiers and other Autobots fighting Decepticons in the background (and it looked good), but nothing particularly cool would happen with the background fighters while the camera was focusing on the two heavy hitters, the main attraction.  In Retribution [and Final Chapter], this action is never punctuated by awesome moments; there are no highlights or climaxes… Hand-to-hand, weapons, guns, and a lot of clever choreography…it was all entertaining. Very entertaining.  But I kept waiting for the “Wow.”  It never came.”

When will directors learn?  I guess as long as these films keep making money, Paul W. S. Anderson (Resident Evil 1 & 4-6, Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Soldier) won’t need to change his style.  And here I am being part of the problem—I bought this movie.  But you know what?  I don’t regret it.  These movies are heavily flawed, but remain entertaining.  Even the “Agent Smith” Matrix fight (late in the movie) was somewhat entertaining, even if I thought it was equally dumb.

Perhaps this is just because our director’s wife (yes, Paul and Milla are married) is 41 years old in this film, but is this the first time he let her be “fully clothed” LOL?  And by that, I mean not dressing her up like a post-apocalyptic hooker, vinyl suited dominatrix, or spandexed ninja?  You’ll also notice that Alice shockingly shows us no leg or side-boob action in some skimpy surgical gown nor does she float naked in a clone chamber.  Now that their kids are almost old enough to see these films, I guess good taste prevailed.

While the “save the day” premise was easily the most mind-numbingly inane of the series (i.e., one vial of airborne antivirus will save the rest of the world if it is released by the final second of a 48-hour countdown, and this vial was just sitting there for 6 movies), this movie’s 3rd Act was very redeeming in terms of franchise story-arc resolution.  We even learn something surprisingly cool about Alice, the Red Queen, the clones, and the initial outbreak.

The Final Chapter doesn’t necessarily close the door on the franchise, but the combination of Milla’s age and the title seem to indicate otherwise.  Some may be relieved, other bereft.  After all, we’ve enjoyed 15 years (2002-2016) of Alice’s zombie-slaying shenanigans. And as much as I enjoy complaining about these movies, I remain a fan, too.

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2017 9:48 am

    I didn’t mind Resident Evil the Final Chapter, thought its was serviceable enough, and it tied up a lot of plot threads that have been around for ages. The special effects were quite good too, bit of an improvement on some of the more recent additions to the series.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 23, 2017 7:40 pm

      I did like the what it did linking the franchise plot. Not sure if that was from the game or not, but I liked it.

      • July 24, 2017 9:25 am

        Me too, the links were there for fans, but it was also well told to bring in new fans unfamiliar with the storyline ect.

  2. D淡定D permalink
    July 23, 2017 7:37 pm

    Unlike you, I’m less forgiving. I stopped being a fan after Resident Evil Afterlife. Now I’m a passionate hater of this franchise. These movies are not really Resident Evil, to begin with.

    I love those Capcom CG movies, namely Degeneration, Damnation, and Vendetta. They are the real deal.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 23, 2017 7:41 pm

      I never played the games. I hadn’t even seen all of them when I decided “I should buy the RE pack since RE6 just came out and review them all.” Once I started, I just stuck with it.

      Never saw the CapCom movies, R-rated toons?

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