Saturday, March 18, 2017

I Kind of Hated 'Resident Evil: The Final Chapter'

The Resident Evil franchise is completely muddled, convoluted, nonsensical, and unexceptional (by this I mean the live-action series of movies starring Milla Jovovich and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson; the animated movies are actually reasonably good).  It’s an objectively awful and generally unremarkable film series.  But I’m not gonna lie and say that I didn’t find some enjoyment from these movies.  For Alice is an entertaining, attractive badass, and it does have a couple of cool moments (e.g. appearances of characters from the games, gratifying kills, army of Alice clones, etc.).

I remember liking the first four movies when I initially watched them (I didn’t like the third one as much, but I found the ending and its implication exciting [i.e. an army of Alices], which were immediately negated by the opening minutes of the fourth movie [was bummed out by that development, but had fun with the rest of that movie]).  I was intrigued of the world-building at first, but it got more and more difficult to understand and appreciate with each movie.  And re-watching them at a later time, I noticed that they weren’t as exciting as I had remembered them; the quality of the visuals and action sequences weren’t enough to make up for its stupid storytelling.  So by the time of the fifth movie, I was as much bored as fairly entertained with it; I immensely liked its ending though (i.e. Alice standing side by side with game characters Albert Wesker, Jill Valentine, Ada Wong, and Leon S. Kennedy, as the White House is besieged by an army of T-Virus-mutated monsters).
Five years after that fifth movie, and fifteen years after the first one, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is released this 2017 to serve as the final installment of the series.  Unfortunately, I kind of hated it.  A first.  I never really hated any of the prior Resident Evil movies, despite of the degree of how bad, bland and/or forgettable they were.  I don’t know.  Maybe I finally had enough – my tolerance for the franchise finally broke.  Regardless of the reason, I found The Final Chapter too sloppy that I was distracted to notice and latch on any positive detail that it might have (or is it because it just didn’t have any?), which could have helped me ride into an “I’m entertained” momentum.

For starters, there’s the hard-to-follow, dizzyingly-edited, headache-inducing action sequences.  They were probably the worst the franchise has ever had (not sure though, since I couldn’t remember if the actions scenes of the previous movies had been as bad and I just didn’t notice, and I’ve no interest of verifying this by re-watching them).   Whenever a dumb action film can’t bring the goods when it comes to action, then it’s a failure because what’s left is just the dumb.
And not only is the plot completely dumb and inconsistent (“The Red Queen” is programmed to value human life. Haha.  Moreover, in the first movie, she was said to be modeled after the head programmer’s daughter.  But in Final Chapter, she’s revealed to be modeled after the daughter of the co-founder of Umbrella Corp.), but most of the non-action sequences are terribly boring.  It also has this big twist about Alice’s real connection with the Umbrella Corp. and the Red Queen.  But it was made immensely obvious from the opening montage what it was, so it didn’t do anything for me when it was revealed.

Oh, the promise of an epic final installment (or, at least, an attempt of one) brought by the ending of the fifth movie?  Never happened.  The Final Chapter just starts off with Alice left in the ruins of the White House.  The hordes of zombies and monsters, the soldiers, and her allies are nowhere to be found.  It’s mentioned later that Wesker betrayed her again, but there were no scenes showing what has happened during that “last stand.”
That’s probably why I hated this movie.  It “cheated.”  The ending of the fifth movie heavily implied that the final movie would be about humanity with its back against the wall, with all these characters making a gritty last stand against relentless onslaughts of monsters and zombies.  But instead of giving that, The Final Chapter diverted its track to a more “safe and economical” premise.  (I kind of just wanted more Jill Valentine and Ada Wong.)

I hope that The Final Chapter is indeed the last of the Resident Evil series (though the tons of money it made would probably tempt them to make another one).  Since, not only will that open the possibility of a reboot of superior quality, but it will give Milla Jovovich the chance to move on from this stuff and do much better things with her career.

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