Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Critical Review Rating: 38%
“Why am I still alive?”
In a world of the walking dead, where zombies and creatures lifted from nightmares walk the planet with seeming immunity, you can’t help but wonder how this series of films got things so disastrously wrong with a final chapter of a series that should have died a swift and clean death many years ago. What began as a concept to bring the cult horror title of games to the silver screen launched with the first Resident Evil film in 2002, utilising a great many of the ideas and innovations most popular in the series but removing almost entirely the cast of characters who had become beloved to varying degrees with the games audience instead opting for an original series of protagonists.In true Resident Evil fashion, and this does contain spoilers, only Alice survives the first film, although death doesn’t stop a character from returning at a later date, and goes on to lead the series whilst coming across the various stars of the games series such as Chris, Jill and Leon at various points over the 14 year franchise. Where seemingly the game franchise has continued to refresh and update its message and demographic retaining its fame and prestige with the recently updated Resident Evil 2 and VR inspired Resident Evil 7, the film franchise can very much be seen as an effort by the makers to retain the ‘true value’ of the series and all its foibles for better, and most certainly for the worst. Trying to review the series in its entirety is largely pointless and a futile endeavour, in short Alice, the central protagonist survives numerous encounters paying lip service to fan favourites on her journey but largely returning and venturing forth on her own. The only really consistent characters through out include the Red Queen encountered in the first movie and the Umbrella director played by Iain Glen, presumably under contract and away from his duties on Game of Thrones. He certainly seems to enjoy his part and continuing to be involved with this franchise but it long departed the style and theme of the game series and honestly does more damage to the games the longer it went on. With the release of Final Chapter, which hopefully does indeed mean the end of the franchise it gives another studio or team an opportunity to shape a new direction for this series, be that in practical or animated form its open to interpretation. The animated films released in the West were vastly superior and faithful to the film material, with a little change and better script writers there was an opportunity here to make a decent series of films, a better final chapter, it’s such a disappointing waste.
Let’s focus on some of the positives, and please excuse me if I seem to be stretching here, it genuinely is a struggle to draw some praise for this movie from the bad taste it left behind. With an opening sequence set in the ruins of Washington DC it was ‘fun’ to see the nation’s capital ravaged and ruined by the apocalypse, certainly slightly ahead of the curve having beaten The Walking Dead to the punch by a year or two but unfortunately visually besides the National Mall, itself recognisable but somewhat forgettable in contrast to the Capitol Building and Washington Monument the fight continues onto the streets of DC and what visually, evidently becomes the films main shooting location in and around Cape Town. Rinsed in a sepia filter the location has no resemblance to Washington and suffers from the affliction of casting the end of the world in a muddy brown Instagram filter. Without a doubt nuclear devastation or the zombie apocalypse will spell the end of civilization as we know it but I hope and pray nature, famed for its diversity of colours, patterns and tones will not lose the ability to project beyond grey and brown. How the millennials and generation z will cope come the end of days is a legitimate concern. Some of the monsters and creatures featured were reminiscent of those found in the games, which was fun for a moment but entirely forgettable. One of the great joys of Resident Evil 5, of which the opening creature was inspired by, was the challenge of defeating this menace with various stages to the conflict. Unfortunately, easily defeated with the application of brakes and aggressive driving the film wasted the use of this creature, perhaps there’s a joke or comment about bad female driving destroying creatures from hell, if so it’s wasted on this film. A callback to the first film was a nice touch with the return of the laser corridor but at this point with the amount of times over the course of the series it has featured or been alluded to at this point any threat or menace is a wasted entirely. I remember watching the first film with the switch and bait of Colin Salmon, one of the few notable actors entering the corridor and meeting a disturbing end as he lost out to laser grid determined to cut him down to size. When the camera pulled down the same location it felt like little more than fan service or lazy writing inducing an unearned sense of fear or dread, and shamefully overcome very quickly by Alice before moving on to her next confrontation. A recurring theme then for this movie, a lot of potentially cute moments and call backs but none utilised or expanded properly and overall a really disappointing film. I did enjoy the convoy scenes to an extent but the vehicles and sequence felt pulled directly from Land of the Dead and ‘Dead Reckoning’, the dropped oil and fire scene was intense to see and a nice way to combat the horde but ultimately, seemingly made little impact so easily forgettable a short moment later with the next stunt piece. A zombie film made for a generation with no attention span or memory, chasing the next visual high, such a waste.
Featuring an entirely forgettable cast of wasted characters with no chance of growth or development on occasion with films such as these a notable or recognisable face is cast to at least allow you to follow said individual through association, recognising that face from that tv show or movie. Without that connection and no chance of growth being the Final Chapter, there is little reason to care for these people besides a really rubbish construct of the world’s population diminishing below critical mass. Quite frankly, living in this world would be a crap experience, farewell the human race and goodbye. The one redeeming quality would be to make use of characters gamers could relate to, over the decades there are a wealth, unfortunately we were treated to Claire, and that was it, all surviving legacy characters seen on occasion in the earlier films no more. If this was the Final Chapter show me Leon, Chris, Jill, allow me to at least care for what I’m watching. Perhaps there is a large fan base for Alice and her many exploits defeating the undead, a desire for her to continue beyond the Final Chapter and if this is a spoiler well, who cares at this point she lives, and carries on fighting what threats remain. With a tease of pulling the trigger and letting her perish unfortunately her husband couldn’t allow his wife to bite the bullet and copied the ending from Blade Trinity with Alice riding off to fight the scourge. If you were invested in the menace of the Red Queen and an old woman with limited acting abilities, well, surprise the clone threat revealed three iterations of Alice across the ages no one cared about or needed to know. With the menace of Whesker an opportunity to have a genuine menace and threat from the gaming series who perished towards the end of the fifth game in a volcano, here reduced to a door stop and serving no purpose other than tarnishing the good name of those with blonde hair. I struggle to think of a single character I cared about in this Final Chapter of a film series I watched for over a decade, you would have hoped that after a half-dozen films a returning character would make an appearance to lift my hopes and raise my optimism, instead the forgettable cast are largely forgotten or deposed of, Claire survives I guess as a legacy character but makes no real difference. In short, no one benefits from this film and you would presume it doesn’t feature on many a list of actors credits.
I do enjoy the concept of a guilty pleasure, a film derided by many and yet finding a small corner in your heart to nestle itself. I’ll openly admit, for me that film is Under Siege 2, a bombastic over the top and silly cheese fest of a film, hell I’ll even give Speed 2 a watch and cheer for Jason Patric when he saves Sandra Bullock, I am open and willing to find the best aspects in the worst films, for the life of me there is little to anything positive or redeeming about this movie, suffering from so many of the ills of modern bad cinematography its painful to sit through. By the end of the film I was hoping for Whesker to triumph, for Alice to remain dead and the world to be overtaken by the walking dead. That my usual calm and liberal sensibilities have been overcome with a desire to see the evil and dead triumph is a worrying notion to consider, if you are curious about this film, I’d recommend scratching that itch with the CGI movies, at least they have some semblance to the game franchise. Alternatively if you have masochistic tendencies and want to waste what time you have left on this planet be my guest.
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