The Resident Evil Recap
7th February 2017
A passable B-movie franchise that spawned from a Japanese zombie horror game series is drawing to a close this week as it's sixth and "final" chapter hits cinema screens. So I decided to go back to watch them all.
Let's all do the recap dance and don our spoiler hats.
1. Resident Evil
The future of meat dicing
A SWAT team and a few stragglers investigate why a top secret underground science lab went offline. As everyone gets merrily dispatched by a rogue AI looking out for the greater good, i.e. not unleashing a zombie plague upon the world, Milla Jovovich's Alice comes to the fore as the leading kickass lady and in the foreground she remains for the rest of the series.
First watched on a VHS tape back in my adolescent days, this ticked most of the boxes I had then. Inventive deaths, plot twists, some cool action and even a monster. Although on revisiting this was much cornier than remembered but all is forgiven for that cool laser corridor dicing Colin Salmon. It leaves us with Alice and an infected mate escaping the Hive. He gets taken away and she wakes up to the zombie apocalypse.
2. Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Post-backflip, pre-slo-mo bullets
Picks up at that zombie apocalypse. Everything's going to shit. People are trying to leave Raccoon City but Umbrella seal it off. The virus's inventor gathers a merry group of bandits, which includes our Alice, to save his daughter from the undead and thus guarantee their way out. Alice's mate from the end of the last film returns in a slightly less human form and she has to face off with him to prove who's the better T-virus protegé. She wins but gets captured before then being allowed to escape, cause of reasons.
Alice may do some slow-motion sprinting down the side of a building in this one but it's the scene where she smashes through a stained glass church window in a Harley Davidson and smacks into a licker before back flipping off whilst wearing a Right Said Fred vest that really sets the series going in ludicrously fun set-pieces.
3. Resident Evil: Extinction
The one in the desert with Las Vegas, school buses and the zombie crows. The world is now a massive desert filled with zombies topping up their tans and apparently hundreds of Alice clones.
Original Alice has become Mad Max in this wasteland but still decides to help those educational transport vehicles get themselves to Alaska from Nevada before defeating Game of Thrones' Jorah monster who wrongly tells her "AH KANT DYE". She picks up her army of doppelgangers and tells Umbrella's Wesker that she's coming for him. This film initially drew my distaste because clones just spike off my bullshit-o-meter just like time travel or other narrative get-out-of-jail-free cards but it's actually a solid enough film.
4. Resident Evil: Afterlife
The 3D one and thus the one that fully embraces what this series is. Alice only went and destroyed Tokyo with her army of expendable lookalikes and left Wesker (the baddie that models himself on being a shit Mark Kermode) for dead in a copter crash after he'd taken her superpowers. She realises her mates got to Alaska but bugger all is there so she flies to LA.
The supporting cast in this one really brighten up proceedings and we meet some of them as Alice crash lands on the roof of their building. As she skids off the end we meet a basketball star who slam dunks the plane to keep them alive. It ticked a Space Jam box I hadn't realised existed.
We get the huge axeman smashing up a communal shower in a scene that if played in real time would only last 10 seconds but I let the big brute away with it because he's awesome. A boat turns out to be the supposed location of survivors instead of Alaska but it's a trap! Wesker is there and throws his awesome shades in slow-motion towards the camera before flitting about and getting shot in the face. That was fun.
5. Resident Evil: Retribution
A fake NYC and two massive executioners
Or Resident Evil: Gold, the greatest hits. We start off with the usual Alice recap of the previous films as it reiterates that the "trouble was, they didn't stay dead". I realise that this five minute scene could replace this whole piece. *dies inside*
Now we just jump between zombie scenarios in an underwater Russian VR lab. We got suburbia, subways, New York, Moscow, laser corridors, clones of old favourites and TWO GIANT AXEMEN. They're all finely enjoyable as Alice battles her way through before a big snowy climax fight that features more X-ray shots than a Friday night A&E. It features an old ally, who's been given a mind-controlling makeover with a big red shiny thing on her chest. Alice survives to discover Wesker has taken over the White House and wants her help for the big last stand off so returns her superpowers which leads us to now.
SPOILERS FOR THE FINAL ONE
6. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Laser skid marks
So we're getting an actual ending, some closure and all we had to do was sacrifice the post-colon one-word limit and a commitment to continuity
Well, we got cheated out of the White House stand off. We're told (not shown) that it was another trap to try and kill our hero once and for all. Alice survives of course and the AI of the Red Queen tells her that there is a cure back in the underground lab, The Hive so off she goes. The second movie's virus inventor is retconned to be someone else, much longer ago but with the same motive of saving their daughter. Can't pretend that that rewriting didn't come across as a narrative cheat. Jorah's "AH KANT DYE" guy also isn't dead, is more bible-y now and had planned this apocalypse.
Apocalypse planning and a conveniently hidden face
We pick up a bunch of cannon fodder to band around Alice and die instead of her as she attempts to navigate to and then through the Hive in Raccoon City. Up until the last half hour, most of the action has been so frenetically edited that it's almost incomprehensible and any quieter scenes are often rudely interrupted by loud banging noises so you're excused if you pick up a headache. A sequence where Alice is hanging upside down yet takes out a group of Umbrella expendables is actually quite cool though.
We get the laser corridor, we get a beastie, we get a turncoat, we get clones, we get Wesker being sidelined and we get a massive revelation. That revelation is that Alice is a clone of the inventor's daughter, who the red queen is modelled after and who is also the co-head of Umbrella. It's at once both nonsense and yet fits as a more satisfying end to the series, if you can pardon the retconning it required to be feasible. Jorah (the evil other Umbrella co-head) is then defeated twice, once by Alice, once by himself and then the antivirus is set free. What is really handy though is that it worked immediately in their vicinity but will take years for the rest of the world so there's still time for zombie-punching if they want to make another film.
END OF SPOILERS FOR THE FINAL ONE
Like a lower budgeted Fast & Furious with more zombies and less big bald guys, this series has hit big internationally in its later years with a diverse cast. The duo of Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson have made the franchise their own by trusting their ideas and cherry-picking random bits from the games to make something that just owns what it is. A fun, pulpy action adventure series with so much slow motion.
Fancy giving this a share?
Ethan M Barr
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