WARNING: If you have not yet seen Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and are PLANNING TO, please be aware that possible [SPOILER ALERTS] may be ahead! You are forewarned!
So last night I went to see Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. The last installment in the Resident Evil series starring the beautiful, talented, and totally killer Milla Jovovich.
Look let’s be absolutely honest. First of all, if you haven’t seen the others, you probably have no reason to be watching this particular one either. And if you have, as I have, been an avid fan and watcher of these particularly terrible-yet-oh-so-good zombie horror/action B-movies, you’re going to watch this regardless.
Wait a minute…so…who’s actually gonna benefit from this review?! Ahahah. Oh well.
My history with the Resident Evil series goes back further than 2002, when the first Resident Evil film hit theatres. In case you didn’t know, Resident Evil was, and still is, a video game series way before it was a zombie movie franchise. I remember buying my PS2 and it came with a copy of Resident Evil: Code Veronica. The RE series always had an incredible sense of environment and pace to create a permanent sense of dread. I was very young then, and the first time you wake up and escape from your cell and you start to climb up the long, dark, empty stairway, it was too much for me to even finish. That’s right. I didn’t get further than ten minutes into my very first Resident Evil game.
Since then the franchise has gone through a lot of different growths and changes, and I’ve changed as well as a person and a gamer. Still we were always in a very elongated and faint but ever-present orbit around each other. Every couple years I’d find myself going back to the latest Resident Evil game, testing the waters once more. There were some good, some bad, and some terribly, terribly bad. Horrible controls, bad voice-acting, glitchy animations. But still, I loved it. And the most recent one, Resident Evil: Biohazard with its VR mode, is an absolute NIGHTMARE. A wonderful return to the very essence and nature of Resident Evil. Survive. Scream. Repeat. It’s a great thrill ride and the true stuff of nightmares. Is it any wonder why I love this series so much?
The movies have been much more consistent. Consistently what is certainly up to interpretation, but consistent nonetheless. Fast-paced action, rock star soundtrack, so so so many zombies. And a lot of Milla Jovovich side-boob. But they were always fun, always exciting, and a great distraction. The story, though threadbare, was always at least just enough to keep the suspension of disbelief going. The movies were pretty well done too, with excellent CGI, effects, and a palpable sense of dread when necessary.
So I have to be honest with you. As a final send-off of what has been a big part of my life…Resident Evil: The Final Chapter…kind of…disappointed.
Let’s talk about cast. Now if there’s one thing you can rely on in a Resident Evil movie, it’s that the cast is always disposable. You will go through characters faster than a teenage boy through tissues. That’s fine. In the zombie apocalypse, we don’t all get to retire at the dinner table on a Sunday evening. Some of you are going to get eaten. But at least, the movie gives you enough time to give a damn. To care. In the first film, we follow a team of elite operatives who are sent to actually try and contain the situation and save the world from the outbreak. They are the best of the best, a highly trained team who works together. So when one falls, you feel the pain of loss. You see them grow weaker and either lose morale or lose themselves to anger. In the second, we felt for US agents trying their best to help a city on the brink of collapse. In the third, survivors who have found each other at the end of the world and are trying just to survive and cling to hope. And so on and so forth. But in this film…honestly I can’t even tell you a single person’s name. And that’s a real shame. Because a nameless body among hundreds lost to the horde really doesn’t mean much to anyone, does it? But one strong, well-developed, recognizable and relatable character lost…even if it’s just one, you feel that. Only one other regular from the series made it back to this one, though we get no explanation as to why or how the others are missing. So we don’t even get to mourn the fallen. Instead we’re just immediately introduced to even more people (why introduce new people in the LAST installment of something) who die almost as quickly and as unremarkably as they are introduced. I wish I could have cared about them more. But maybe they were going more for the body count.
Story wise…for a zombie movie so clearly ready to kill off its stars…I was surprised by how ‘Disney’ the ending was. It seems the Sunday dinner table was in fact set with an extra table for someone from the series. I also couldn’t quite get the thinking behind the villainous Umbrella Corporations’s reasoning. It seemed like at the brink of extinction, everyone would find it in their best interest to continue on in a certain way. In the beginning of the series Umbrella Corp was just another pharmaceutical company that got way too big for its britches, took on more than it could, and tried desperately to cover it up. But by the end they were both the saviors and the plague. They couldn’t quite make up their minds about how to portray the company. This leads to plot holes and some very questionable decisions.
The music was great, and the zombies were varied and provided action, horror, and some great opportunities for creative violence. The sequences were scored well, choreographed with skill, but honestly…whoever their cinematographer is should be SHOT. This is one of the few times I actually find myself angry about cinematography. The action sequences were made with so many consecutive jump cuts that I almost got nauseous. I had plans to watch the movie in IMAX 3D and now I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t know how I would have handled it. I craved the few and rare moments of crappy dialogue just because it provided a needed respite from the frantic frenetic camera jumps of the action sequences. It’s a shame too, because often times camera shifts are used by directors to avoid having to justify the action or to cover up poor choreography or lack of actual skill.
I love the Resident Evil series, I honestly do. And I will still watch the first five films, with the first and second being my absolute favorite. They will always be one of my favorite guilty pleasures. As a ‘goodbye’ for the series, I wish there was more chance for ‘goodbye’. I would have liked to see some characters return. There were still some left alive in the previous movie. And the setting was in fact Raccoon City again, where the whole series started. But since they ended the film with a nuclear bomb, there were no reminders, no familiar landmarks to recognize, no tearful flashbacks. Just (literally, this is what they called it in the film) the ‘Pit’. And that’s kinda where I feel they left all our memories.
Man: 180 Loneliness: 32