Aka a chance for me to ramble about a film/s that’s under loved or under seen. This month, I’m sticking with a horror theme what with Halloween being just around the corner, I’m making a case for the Resident Evil franchise.
I’m aware that with the exception of the first film, the series is pretty much panned by critics and general movie watchers. These films were never designed to be Oscar contenders, or particularly thought-provoking for that matter. Based on a video game series, they’re meant to be loaded with action and primarily, to be entertaining. For me, they pass on both counts.
The first is the superior film of the series, undoubtedly. The smaller scale it’s kept on help make it more tense, more believable and up the horror ante somewhat. We spend practically the entire film in one building, so it can play on claustrophobia and the desperation to escape. It also had a good soundtrack, a theme that continues into the sequels, though with less rock/metal music and moving into electronic which is a shame but still throws up some great pieces of music. In this first film, we’re introduced to Alice and to Umbrella Corp and it paves the way for much of what will follow. We learn at the same pace of Alice so at first it’s disorienting, then surprising and then fairly tense. It’s a concept that works and is executed pretty well. Fans of the game might have been disappointed that it essentially stepped away from the series, but it made for a better film.
So what of the sequels? It’s probably a safe bet that if you didn’t enjoy the first, you likely won’t enjoy what followed. Personally, I find myself enjoying Extinction (RE3) and Afterlife (RE4) more than Apocalypse (RE2) and Retribution (RE5). Each one has some good scenes though and much as Retribution wasn’t perfect, I did love the snow scene and the introduction of some new characters again. Leon and Ava particularly. Ok, so sometimes the story gets a little lost and convoluted and sort of hard to believe, but this is a world taken over by a disease that turns people into zombies because of an evil corporation so reality has kind of already gone out of the window. I do feel that I owe the second a re-watch again soon though, it’s my least watched and I’m hoping I can find new appreciation with it.
I actually think with the first one aside, I’ve probably seen Extinction the most. It’s where we first meet Claire Redgrave, easily one of my favourite characters (played by the pretty amazing Ali Larter) and her band of survivors. It’s also the first one where a romantic element is played upon for Alice. Yes, in the first (and second to an extent) she’s trying to save Matt, but it all appears pretty platonic. Things change however with
It’s a series of films that treats its women pretty well. All of them serve a purpose, they’re all fiercely independent and we get to see them join up. There’s a scene between Alice and Claire in Afterlife where they take on the Axe-creature thing. It’s an over the top scene but it looks lovely and the song to accompany it is great. Easily one of my favourite films in that scene which considering the opening scene, (rainy, beautiful Tokyo with one of my favourite pieces of music from the whole franchise) says a lot.
Ultimately these films make great sit back and enjoy the ride films. You may not have a million questions afterwards or be thinking about it for days and weeks to come, but they’re fun. Give me these over the Transformers series any day. I know I’m probably in a minority of people that are excited for the final chapter, a sixth film, but I personally always find spending time in the company of Alice to be entertaining. We may not need the final chapter, but I’ll be there watching it anyway.
Mila Jovovich is long a lady I have admired and I was always mostly happy that romance was never her reason for existence as Alice. Though…Carlos! I’d be lying if I didn’t say she deserved a shot with him. The scenes in Extinction were a little sad and it was horrible when they torture her with a clone of him and the perfect family idea in Retribution.
I guess what I’m saying is, these films are fun. They can be enjoyed as such without needing them to be Oscar worthy. I’m not going to call them guilty pleasures either because I don’t feel guilty in enjoying them!