When the series completed, many spectators were overjoyed that their favorite franchise to hate had come to an end, allowing them some time to forget that it ever existed. However, their relief is only short-lived as there are now rumors of a television reboot on its way. With that being said, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on this series before any further news is confirmed.
What Are The Resident Evil Movies About?
Our tale of Resident Evil starts with its 2002 film, where Alice (Mila Jovovich) establishes herself as the main character of the series. The protagonist is a former security guard of the Umbrella Corporation who unexpectedly gets involved in a zombie outbreak when a deadly virus is spread across the underground facility she worked for. This incident forever changes her as she was apprehended by her former employers for experimentation the moment she tries to leave the facility.
The protagonist gains superhuman abilities as a result of these experiments, but her sudden disappearance from the world left the entirety of Raccoon City in complete chaos. In her absence, Alice was unable to warn others of Umbrella’s misdoings in time to prevent the virus from reaching the city, resulting in the rest of the world becoming affected by the zombie outbreak. (Think of it as an Avatar scenario.) The aftermath of the first film sets her on her unrelenting mission to destroy Umbrella. She spends the series hunting those that have wronged her, while also trying to maintain the remnants her humanity in this newly changed world.
So, What’s Wrong With These Films?
Here’s the thing: there’s arguably nothing wrong with the basics of these movies (outside of its dialogue and plot). Despite its vast mediocrity, the series has garnered many fans over the years. A lot of my complaints in this article are my nitpicks on certain things done in the series. These moments are like getting hit by a truck. You don’t take any notice of it until it’s actually there. You’re instead left on the sidelines questioning why.
These films are meant to be the director’s interpretation of the game series. There’s nothing in them that connects their stories to the game’s plot. So I can see why the series gets a lot of flack from fans for capitalizing itself under the Resident Evil title. Instead of using actual events and characters from the games, Anderson tries to incorporate popular elements from its lore and science into his own creations. (Rendering them into mere cameos and decorations in the background.)
The problem with him doing things this way, however, is that it causes certain moments of the series to feel senseless at times as he tries to apply “video game logic” as an active solution to many of the issues in each film. While these “solutions” normally work out for characters in games, they’re completely unnecessary to events applied in real life. They’re impractical, and the viewers are never given an explanation for why characters settle on these choices when there are better alternatives around them.
In Other Words . . .
To sum it up: this series is a collection of run-of-the-mill horror movies. They’re categorized as a video game adapted series so I never watch them with “high expectations.” Instead, I watch them for mindless entertainment. It’s ridiculous but I enjoy finding the flaws they come with. They give me something to complain about in my spare time.
Despite my love for this franchise, there are a few aspects of this series that I can’t ignore. They’re inconsistencies that I like to call my pet peeves. Fortunately, these moments are only found in the earlier films.
The Zombification Process
In Resident Evil (2002), there’s a moment in which a character (played by Michelle Rodriguez) gets bitten near the start of the story, but she shows little indication of changing until the very end of the film. It literally took the character a total of five bites and several hours.
She was the first of the group to get bitten, and she took the longest to transform. Whereas everyone else in this series (this film included) changes after getting bit once with at least a fraction of that characters time frame. This inconsistent time-gap between victims gets frustrating at times, as it feels sporadic and illogical. (Of course, this could just be the work of good genetics, but I’d rather call it a poorly thought out idea.)
Characters from this series also tend to get spontaneously separated without any explanation. They don’t explain how they get to certain areas or when they left the group to reach said destination. More importantly, no one questions them about their tendency to wander despite the fact that others were expected to keep an eye on them.
These moments are paired with equally inexplicable scenarios where others come find them. They never mention how they know where to look for the person or how they got past the hoards of zombies to get to them. (It’s a huge lack of context and it’s rather hard to ignore.)
Why I’m Drawn To The Siren Calls Of This Franchise
If I were to describe what Resident Evil (live-action) was to someone, I’d tell them that it’s like witnessing someone’s fanfiction ideas come to life. The director inserts his own characters into a semblance of the Resident Evil world. And just like fanfiction in general, I’m drawn to the unique stories that people come up with even if they aren’t widely accepted. I like discovering what people create in a pseudo-version of a world I’m familiar with.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the protagonist of this series. She’s a character who was made specifically for this franchise, and she is independent from the games. She is a pragmatic heroine who’s capable of handling herself in a fight against others, and she shows it better than any other character in this series. (She’s like Selene from Underworld.) She’s also a badass who happens to be one of my favorite movie-heroines of all time. I love watching her ever-evolving progression as a heroine.
The third film, Extinction, is the actresses best performance as Alice. This film is my favorite stage of her character development as she wasn’t quite the seasoned badass yet. She still had a lot of flaws that she was struggling to overcome. However, these “struggles” begin to feel superficial after the events of the third film. It gets harder for the audience to relate to her personal conflicts when she starts establishing herself as an indestructible God-like character. The director tries to solve this problem with the last few sequels but the charm was already gone. Alice had already progressed so far as a superhuman protagonist that it was impossible to downgrade her back to what she once was–a humble, semi-relatable heroine.
Popular Character Cameos
The character cameos from these games are terrible. But, in spite of that, I can’t bring myself to actually hate them. The choices this series comes up with are so unexpected at times that it’s amusing to watch. Anderson’s characters are rather accurate to the fanfiction generalization as they’re completely out of character.
It’s hilarious to see some of these actors impersonate fictional characters. They’re nothing like their expected counterparts but they still try to be anyway. I’m thoroughly entertained by these cameos because I fail to be disappointed by them whenever they appear.
Wesker (played by Jason O’Mara and Shawn Roberts) is a major villain from the games. I can’t stop myself from cringing at his actions whenever he appears in the series. It’s painful to see these actors act so conceited in their scenes, and I feel second-hand embarrassment whenever I see them try.
The character’s demeanor is difficult to take seriously in these movies regardless of who plays him. The actor tries too hard to make the character look like he’s intimidating and in control (or, in short, a “badass”). However, his poor attempts to look cool only leaves the viewers feeling like he’s the exact opposite. Instead of “awe-inspiring,” the character feels like he was only put in this series for fan service.
Wesker isn’t as involved in the plot as the other cameos in this series and the real “threat” was always those he worked for. The series was also never going to follow the original events of the games so he actually wasn’t needed in this universe. It’s like this character only existed in this universe to remind everyone that this was a Resident Evil film. Regardless, he was still a popular enough cameo to get a bigger role near the end of the series.
Chris & Claire Redfield
The Redfield siblings are also from the original franchise as each of them are the main characters of their own games. They’re the only cameos I find “adequate” in this series as I like the actors well enough to anticipate their appearances in other projects. It was interesting to see them cast Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller as Claire and Chris Redfield in this series.
They’re the furthest choices imagined from playing these roles, but the duo manages to portray their characters in a likable manner. Larter especially, as the actress has a recurring role in this series and she does a good job reprising her character with every appearance. These characters are introduced in the third and fourth films of the series and they have since left a good impression on me.
While these characters aren’t an accurate portrayal of their fictional counterparts, they’re still the most tolerable of the bunch to watch. They don’t give off any distracting behavior (*cough* Leon) nor are they excessive with their acting. They behave like normal people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse and that’s enough to gain my approval.
I mentioned once that I love watching good horror films; however, I don’t consider Resident Evil to be one of them. While these movies are officially categorized as an “action-horror” film because of the zombie premise, the series isn’t actually scary. I think the aspect of fear is completely absent in these films. The death scenes are often too spontaneous and bedazzled for anyone to process them as scary.
They are instead thrilling as our attentions are suddenly focused on the effects and explosions unfolding before us. I actually want to see characters die in this series. Whenever a monster appears in this series, I’m anticipating how they’ll fare against Alice instead of the group’s well-being.
Mostly because we’re aware that the protagonist is the only one who gets to survive in this series. It gets rather hard to like any of the minor characters as they tend to die off. There’s little remorse for them as the series treats them like cannon fodder. If they survive long enough to make it to the sequels, they’re still killed off eventually.
Anything Worth Noting?
The first few films have a lot of dull moments (mostly in regards to how they handle explaining the backstory of things). However, you can easily overlook them by enjoying the senseless decisions the characters make in retaliation. (You can also overlook them by mocking the over-the-top villains that the director comes up with in every subsequent film.)
One of the things I hate about the later films (anything post-Extinction) is the unnecessary addition of 3D effects. This becomes a thing that the franchise likes to abuse, and they’re not exactly subtle about shoving it in the audiences’ face. Instead, they’re about as bland and unnecessary to have as it’s annoying to watch.
Chronology is an important factor to understanding the overall plot of these films but you can watch them in any order. This is especially important if you’re planning to watch these movies for the sake of entertainment. The plot of each film isn’t necessary to understand and they can be taken as a standalone movie (except for the last two films).
It’s only information regarding the main character that you really need. Every film is virtually about a group of reoccurring individuals trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. The only thing connecting them together is the main character (and those she’s met).
Should You Give These Films A Shot?
The Resident Evil films are so bad to watch that they’re good. I always go into these things knowing they’re going to be bad. But, I still find myself loving them in some way. If you happen to dislike watching bad movies because you can’t stand poorly done films, thenI won’t persuade you to watch this. You can survive without ever seeing this series.
However, if you’re the type who’s willing to overlook bad logic and laugh at corny dialogue, I suggest you give one of these things a go. Watch it with some friends, it might get a laugh or two out of you.