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RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER Shuts the Franchise Down with a Bang (Review)

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER Shuts the Franchise Down with a Bang (Review)

It’s been a long, strange, blood-soaked trip since Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich turned the wildly popular Resident Evil video game series into a movie, and while few would argue that Resident Evil (2002) should have been an Oscar contender, the flick does manage to deliver what the fans wanted in a fun, flashy, mindless sort of way. It wasn’t exactly a giant hit but certainly solid enough ($40 million domestically and $102 overall), plus Resident Evil sold a lot of DVDs and quickly became a cable TV staple. Which, of course, led to numerous sequels, several of which packed some fun material in amidst all the zombies, clones, gross monsters, and machine guns, but never managed to knock the first flick off its pedestal, quality-wise. So after fifteen years and surviving through a worldwide zombie Apocalypse (2004), Extinction (2007), Afterlife (2010), and Retribution (2012), how does the story end?

Non-spoiler: it ends pretty much the same way as all the other Resident Evil flicks. Here we find the eternally invincible Alice (Milla J., as always) trekking across a desolate post-apocalyptic landscape, always one step ahead of horrific zombie hordes and monstrous flying beasts—all of which she joyously dispatches with a smirk, a drop-kick, and a bullet. Or a knife. (Or a truck.) This time around she’s given a enjoyably simplistic “ticking clock” premise: return to the infamous Umbrella Corporation labs far beneath Raccoon City to retrieve an anti-virus that would save the lives of Earth’s remaining inhabitants AND wipe out the zombie scourge forever. Also the evil, rotten bastard known as Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen)—whom franchise fans will remember from Apocalypse and Extinction—is back, so that’s another headache that Alice has to deal with. And hey, what ever became of good ol’ reliable Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and the wildly villainous Wesker (Shawn Roberts)? Tune in and find out, zombie fans!

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Say what you like about these goofy sci-fi / horror / action movies, but Ms. Jovovich is simply fun to watch when she gets angry. After six movies, it’s safe to call her one of modern genre cinema’s coolest ass-kickers, and while Chapter 6 doesn’t give Ms. Larter all that much to do, it’s always nice to see a little bit of character continuity, even in a goofball, insane, “anything goes” sort of universe like the one found in the Resident Evil movies. The bulk of the fun stuff is left up to Milla, which is fine, plus we have Iain Glen on board as an enthusiastically evil Head Villain, and if you all know of this actor is his work on Game of Thrones, well, prepare to be amused how nasty he is here.

But even with high-energy, genre-smashin’ matinee movies, there are some technical issues that manage to eschew some of the fun. For some reason writer / director / franchise chief Paul W.S. Anderson has opted to go with the hyper-mega-super-duper-fast editorial style, which means your eyes will barely have time to appreciate a well-placed kick or gory zombie decapitation before the editor cuts to another image. In some action sequences, it could work, but many set pieces are so hyperactive with the over-cutting that it frequently becomes a distraction. There are also two or three dialogue scenes that try to combine shorthand character development with expeditious plot exposition, and the result is sometimes a bit… clunky.

But fans probably won’t mind the rough spots all that much. To its credit, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is so damn intent on moving forward at a brisk clip, it’s hard to linger on the clunky components. Many zombies are slain, old friends and enemies are reunited and then killed, hallway lasers are avoided, clones are revealed, and Milla jumps, kicks, and explodes her way through a few long-running plot threads that get some much-needed closure. This may indeed be the last hurrah for Milla’s long-running zombie saga, but at least she and Mr. Anderson tried to end the series on a fun note.

But yeah, I still like the first one best.

3.5 out of 5 “for longtime fans only” burritos:

3.5 burritos

Image: Sony / Screen Gems

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