Video game movies are, quite rightly in most case, maligned by critics and fans of the games alike. The Resident Evil series is no different, but you see, unlike most adaptations of my favourite pastime, I absolutely love them. They’re stupid, dumb, loud, nonsensical, and absolutely brilliant. Everything an adaptation of an equally dumb and stupid game should be.
The game series isn’t exactly high art. Some of them are even downright terrible (I’m looking at you Resident Evil 6). So when people moan at them deviating so far from the games story I just laugh. The second in the series (Apocalypse) was probably the closest in line to the games story, and is probably the worst. Although it’s worth a watch to see the truly horrific man in a suit Nemesis.
I don’t particularly want to dwell on the first three movies because really it’s Afterlife (the fourth one) where the series took off and went absolutely bonkers. It has everything. A weird musical cue that sounds like a magical combination of John Carpenter and Skrillex, ridiculous scenes like where a giant ten feet tall axe wielding zombie managed to sneak up on our heroes murdering someone in the process. And of course, Wentworth Miller from Prison Break showing up as Chris Redfield…..who then has to do another Prison Break.
While previous entries have all integrated characters, situations and monsters from the movie, they mostly felt like they fitted into the story, Afterlife feels more like the writers pinned up a load of elements from the games, threw a dart and whatever it landed on would be thrown into the mix with no rhyme or reason. Which is no more hilarious than when Albert Wesker all of a sudden turns into some sort of Las Plagas creature with tentacles coming out of his mouth. Why? Who knows! But it’s great. As is the epic final confrontation between Wesker and Chris that was ripped straight from Code Veronica.
Speaking of Wesker, Shawn Roberts portraying him in the most over the top fashion possible. And it works. Roberts seems like the only actor in the entire series who knows exactly what he’s got himself into, and like Street Fighter’s Raul Julia before him, plays it for laughs.
The movies manage to reach peak dumb with the fifth entrant, Retribution, where on top of our protagonist Alice we get the inclusion of Ada Wong, Leon Kennedy and Barry Burton. The writers now deciding to reference plot points from the games giving the illusion that they have also occurred in the movie universe creating some weird amalgamation of worlds. After Ada seemingly gets blown up in a house Leon asks Alice if she saw her die and if she didn’t then Ada is probably still alive and kicking, you know, because in Resident Evil 2 falling off a walkway wasn’t enough to stop her popping up in Resident Evil 4.
Speaking of RE4, Retribution’s conclusion (which is also about clones or something which is why Michelle Rodriguez and Colin Salmon have returned from the first film) features a character injecting a small bug into their necks. Prompting “cop for a day” Leon S Kennedy to say, “Las Plagas parasite”. Didn’t play RE4? Then your loss because if you didn’t you’d have no clue what he was on about because unless I was too drunk at this point to remember no mention of Las Plagas has occurred before this point. I guess while Alice and crew were driving across the Las Vegas desert, the setting of the third film, Leon was busy shooting Spanish villagers and rescuing the President’s daughter.
To most people this would seem like poor storytelling, and it is to be fair, but I just love the utter insanity of throwing all this nonsense onto the cinema screen with no explanation. Unlike a Michael Bay movie I was never bored by the nonsensical action, I was mesmerised by it.
It’s a beautiful mess of a series and with The Final Chapter currently in production, that’s seriously its name, I honestly cannot wait to see how it’s going to wrap up this crazy story. I’m predicting time travel. Maybe aliens. Time travelling aliens!