RESIDENT EVIL THE FINAL CHAPTER: An Allusive Farewell To The Despaired Franchise
Does the sixth instalment in the Resident Evil franchise break the mould by being the movie that fans have always wanted?
It’s fair to say that the Resident Evil movie franchise is one that hasn’t been acclaimed on a critical level, and pretty much epitomises the disappointing video-game movie reputation that has lingered over such franchises.
As a life-long Resident Evil fan who has spent his entire childhood playing the games I’ve been far more lenient towards the movies than I perhaps should be, and whilst I have fun with these films, I can also respect and accept the staggering amount of criticism Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptations have had. Nevertheless, is it possible that the sixth film in the franchise will break the mould and be known as the Resident Evil film that fans have always wanted?
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is supposedly the final instalment of the Resident Evil franchise, following on from the events of Resident Evil: Retribution. This time around, Alice (Milla Jovovich) must return to Raccoon City, the birthplace of the initial T-Virus outbreak that turned your everyday human into a flesh-eating zombie, to restore humanity to its natural state from the sinister intentions of the Umbrella Corporation; helmed once more by the return of Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) and Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts).
Lore and story-wise, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is by far the strongest in the franchise. Whilst the previous films gloss over Alice and primarily showcase her as a rigid and almost unexplored character, this time around we are treated to some well-needed characterisation about Jovovich’s lead. The film delves into her past and even throws in a few twists and turns about her identity, finalising in a denouement that is tied together neatly.
Glen MacPherson‘s cinematography and Edward Thomas‘s production design also provide an accurate depiction of a post-apocalyptic environment with its sweeping, barren landscapes and deteriorating infrastructures, achieved by the film’s utilisation of establishing shots.
A Sense of Insecurity
The Resident Evil films have all consistently faced the same issue, with the franchise being unsure of what it really wants to be. Resident Evil, for most, has become synonymous with true survival-horror ingredients, from eerie and claustrophobic environments to the malevolence of tension-building. The Final Chapter‘s reliance on lousy jump scares is synergised with grand, explosive action sequences that attempts to juggle horror and action tropes simultaneously, making the narrative convoluted and impossible for the viewer to take seriously.
The first film in the franchise, Resident Evil, can be deemed as a solid horror film, one that actually succeeded in bringing some effective scares to the viewer through its use of dark and grotesque imagery. But as the franchise has progressed the films have forgotten what makes Resident Evil what it is, discarding the inclusion of survival-horror elements and instead tending to go for a more action-based approach in its presentation, something that the gaming franchise has also fallen into the trap of doing.
This, of course, wouldn’t be an issue if the action was even remotely tolerable. Whilst the explosions are visually appealing and somewhat enjoyable at times, they are mostly composed of a series of fast paced cuts and edits collaged together like a painting a parent sticks on the fridge to make their child feel better about the travesty they’ve just created.
A Lack of Continuity
The franchise also struggles with a continuity issue amongst its films, failing to establish any sense of causality from where one film ends and the next begins. Although the previous instalment Resident Evil: Retribution was an atrocious piece of filmmaking, at least its finale made fans excited for the next film, teeing up an epic showdown between humanity and the undead, including beloved characters from the games such as Ada Wong, Leon Kennedy and Jill Valentine.
These characters are absent from the roster this time around, making the events of the previous film inexcusably redundant, thus once again providing conclusive evidence that Anderson cannot handle the complexity of the source material that is available for him. And even if viewers choose to overlook such absentees, the characters that are included in The Final Chapter are reprehensibly awful and cannot maintain the interest that they require. This is primarily due to the actors’ horrendous line deliverance and all-round abysmal performances, which is also a detriment to the unconvincing script that is on offer.
Any sense of verisimilitude surrounding the characters and the struggle they find themselves in are diminished the moment any of the cast open their mouths, as we, the viewer, are more concerned about how preposterous and cringe-worthy the overabundance of one-liners are, than the heightened stakes that have been enforced from the offset of the narrative.
If the films are anything like the gaming franchise, especially in light of the newly-released game, “Resident Evil 7”, then hopefully the movie series will return to its horror roots. It’s time to scrap it all, and remake it into something that fans want: a faithful adaptation of a gaming franchise that terrified millions.
Do video-game adaptations warrant the staggering amount of criticism they receive? Let us know in the comments!
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is in cinemas now. For a list of international release dates, click here.
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