If you are a fan of the Resident Evil video games series and have been keeping up with the movies you are probably thinking to yourself that all common logic between the two should be abandoned at the door, and by now the series’ director has proved that you would be right. Not only do we get a new character, Alice, who has no relation to the game series, a muddling of the original plot in the first three films, and countless unexplained cameos of video-game villains, but now we have even more madness to boot. Read on and find out for yourself exactly why you won’t appreciate this movie as an ode to your favorite survival horror series.
Before I get into the details on why this entry into the film series continues to disappoint me, let me start off by saying that the Resident Evil films are a great action experience. If I were to rate them simply based on their place in the action film genre, the rating might go a little something like this:
Notice that on their own I give these films a decent score, they are good action films that leave a little more to be desired. There are far worse action films involving zombies out there, though names won’t be named in this editorial. However, when considering the label placed on them of Resident Evil and all that entails, I come to find myself severely disappointed with the offerings. For time’s sake I’ll stick to the latest film and give you my breakdown on why it is muddling the plot even worse than the previous films, while trying to incorporate the game’s heritage more than any other RE film. Some things that were probably meant to be done to bring those two scores closer together ends up bringing them even further apart. Beware that ahead you will find spoilers about the film series and possibly the game series, so if you want to save all of the details of the hour and a half long Resident Evil Afterlife film you may want to skip to the end conclusive paragraph.
The main villain in the game Resident Evil 5 is Albert Wesker, anyone who has played through the game knows his name and knows his style, appearance, and motivation. These are mimicked to great detail in the new film Resident Evil Afterlife yet his name is never mentioned, nor his back-story or his motivation, or even how he came to be at the center of power at Umbrella. The whole thing with Wesker being in charge is that he’s some un-named super-man who is messing with Alice through expensive and extensive mind games while trying to stabilize his own powers and prevent the T virus from overtaking his control over himself. Wait a minute, T virus? What happened to Uroburos? Apparently the film series still fails to completely implement the events, characters, or even overall plot lines of the video game its largely based on.
Moving on from that glaringly obvious fail at incorporating Wesker in a respectable manner, how do we feel about Resident Evil 4 and RE5 style zombies entering the scene without a single mention of Las Plagas and how it has interbred with the virus that spawned the zombies in the rest of the game series? I mean, one minute you’ve got completely unintelligent drooling idiots for enemies and the next they are busting out mutations from their mouths, it was a great effort to include more of the game series into the film, but it just doesn’t make sense when there is zero explanation for it. The executioner is in the film too, for about 15 minutes total, he gets back up after being ‘killed’ which was pretty cool but this could have been a great chance to explain some of his mysterious back-story and instead he is just another nameless, faceless villain who really was just thrown in for nostalgic purposes. If they were trying to go all out they really failed here because the games featured way more cool effects like flying Las Plagas creatures spawning out of zombies’ backs, and obviously much more which were absent from the film.
Chris Refield makes an appearance and his sister cannot remember who he is, that saved a lot of explanation now didn’t it? The reason she cannot remember is because the red mind-control-ish thing that was stuck on Jill in Resident Evil 5 gets slammed onto Claire in this film, only this time it’s not the virus being injected into her it’s “drugs”. The reason they said it was drugs instead of the virus is beyond me but her badass factor was enhanced for only a second before Alice effortlessly removed it from her body. Remember how hard it was to get it off Jill in RE5? Yeah, we thought so. Chris is very mysterious and cold in this film, he is also very quiet. Those who know the game series well will tell you that isn’t the Chris they know at all. He is also from the Army, which is not exactly the truth according to the games but it’s pretty close so I guess we can let that one slide. The really retarded thing about Chris is that he is found in a jail and is being played by the actor from “Prison Break”, I wouldn’t have minded this at all if he didn’t completely botch the character. He even stops to catch Wesker’s sun-glasses only to be kicked by him in the mouth and return them to him, what kind of Chris Redfield is this!? I actually think the actor who played him tried his best, but too much of himself and not enough of Redfield on this film can probably be blamed on casting or the director equally.
If you think these things are bad, which you may or may not depending on your perception of the films and games, well just hold on a minute because things take a total breakdown pretty quickly through this surprisingly short film’s narrative. Alice is talking about how there are only a couple thousand human beings on Earth left. For one, the story never got this grim in the video game series, but yes there was always a sense of the virus spreading and decimating city after city, they never quite were able to tame it. The problem is that when you only have a few thousand humans left, everything stops making sense rather quickly. Umbrella still has hundreds of helicopters full of troops to send after Alice at the ending of the film and there are still deadly experiments going on. For the rest of the known human population to become Umbrella’s pet project seems pretty unrealistic, at this point I envision the next film lasting 4 seconds, “everyone is extinct, again, fin”. Who is left for Albert to sell his weapons to? Who is left for Umbrella to scare, kill, and rule from the shadows?
In conclusion I can see how many movie-goers and casual fans of the series might see this as picking apart the film too much. After all it is meant to be entertaining and through it’s action sequences, special effects, and characterization it does become entertaining in its own way. It’s just that when you make your target audience the people who play the games, the people who buy the games and even enabled the security of publishing an RE film series to huge success in the first place, it’s pretty weak for us to sit through films that seem to not understand or appreciate the vast and deep story that exists in the Resident Evil universe. Feel free to disagree, this is just one man’s opinion. I do understand that the latest film was trying to implement more of the game’s universe by adding the elements I’ve analyzed in this piece, yet I feel like if you aren’t going to do it right, it’s best not to do it at all. It should be mentioned that all of these events seen in the film were depicted in the parallel yet detached manner that has become typical of the RE film series but they are drawing the film closer to its game counterparts, however grotesquely. There is still hope that the next Resident Evil game and film might be very coherently relative to each other, but hopefully this will not be done at the cost of the game’s amazing universe.