*This article is a discussion and overview of the film series, and while plot points are not discussed in detail there may be a few small spoilers, so reader beware.
I think the moment the Resident Evil film franchise went downhill was the beginning of the third film. As soon as Milla launched into that tired monologue about Umbrella, it should have been a clue that it was the beginning of the end for the film series. When will filmmakers learn that just because something has worked well before does not mean it should be repeated, ad nauseam?
When the third film opened on a desolate post-apocalyptic world, devoid of not only most human life, but much plant-life an water too I think I knew we were in trouble. When the writers of Resident Evil: Extinction dumped Alice (whose character has no origins in the game series, other then supposedly being modeled “after the strong women in the Resident Evil games”) into that barren, desert-like wasteland, they erased much of the human element from the series. Still, they attempted to hold viewers’ interest by dropping Hollywood heavyweights like Ali Larter, Oded Fehr, and Iain Glen into roles that corresponded with more popular characters creatures from the video games series. (I say “more” because Resident Evil: Apocalypse did include a few game characters/creatures, notably Jill Valentine and the bio-weapon, Nemesis.) The refugees that banded together for survival under the guidance of Claire Redfield and Carlos Olivera were still enough of a “human” touch to hold the film together, but by the time the fourth live action film, Afterlife, came out, the series was slowly circling the drain.
All of the clones that Alice had rescued at the end of Extinction seemed destined for some great rising up, only to be killed off rather unceremoniously in the first ten minutes or so of Afterlife. It seemed (to me anyway) like the writer Paul W. S. Anderson, set up a scenario at the end of the third film that he was not prepared to see through. Ali Larter reprised her role as Claire Redfield and Wentworth Miller came on board as Chris Redfield. Albert Wesker and an “evil” Jill Valentine also made an appearance, however even the star power and in-game references couldn’t totally stave off the film’s inevitable descent into ridiculousness.
Resident Evil: Retribution, the series fifth film, was… well, it was a bomb. Stale references to previous films and seemingly hastily re-introduced (and almost equally hastily killed off) characters from previous films only seemed to highlight the faults of this film. The human element, the one that is fairly important if you want your viewers to actually care about the characters or their fates, was too sorely lacking. To further support my point, I’d have to say the most interesting part of this movie for me was the very beginning where the family wakes up to a seemingly normal, pre-apocalypse day and are suddenly besieged by zombies. (The family is comprised of Milla, Oded, and a little girl, who are all later revealed to be clones created for simulations in the giant recreated cities.) And I won’t even go into the spurious insertion of the Las Plagas element from the fourth RE game. They might as well have left it out completely out for the handling it received.
The only thing that made these last few films even worthwhile were the outstanding creatures, like the bad-ass executioner inspired by the one in the Resident Evil 5 game, and the Lickers, which have always been a personal favorite of mine. The giant Licker in Retribution was delightfully scary and gross.
As to the rest of the film… maybe they should have bombed this film with Raccoon City. At any rate, me thinks it’s time to bury this series and let it stay dead. And considering what a RE fan I have revealed myself to be in past posts, that’s saying something!