5 Reasons Why The Resident Evil Films Are Worse Than You Think
So, the Resident Evil film franchise is actually getting a reboot, and I think it’s important at this point to really examine why those films failed so astronomically, and considering that we’ll soon be able to see the same director adapt another videogame franchise, I think it’s safe to say this is an omen for the future. The Resident Evil films were directed by Paul W. S. Anderson who also wrote the scripts and oversaw almost the entire project. He certainly has an iffy history as a filmmaker, and the fact he got the gig directing Monster Hunter is a real worry.
Now, the Resident Evil videogames were always considered for a film franchise. They were a big deal back when they first came out but they always ran into a bit of a problem trying to nail down a writer and directors. In fact, at one point, the legendary Night of the Living Dead director George A. Romero was attached to write a script, which did eventually leak online. And given how that script turned out, his film wouldn’t have been great but it was an alright reimagining of the first videogame. Now, the Resident Evil films came out to middling reviews; with each film, the backlash got worse. Fans of the games really don’t like these films, but I can count a few people who just go and see the films who say that they’re alright, if a bit weird and bloated, action films.
However, I’m going to disagree, and I’m going to go with five reasons why these films are worse than what you think they are. I’m going to also state that I did actually come from a point that I thought the first Resident Evil film was alright and there was some promise. However, every film going forwards has been just a disaster. And for the purposes of being fair, I’m going to mainly be sticking to the problems with the film; four of these don’t really relate to the videogame at all. This is really going to be why these films suck as films.
It’s not interested in its source material
Now, the first Resident Evil film actually feels like it could be genuinely interesting. It starts out set in a facility known as ‘The Hive’, this underground famous location, Racoon City, and it’s similar to locations you go to in to Resident Evil 2 and 3. In fact, if this had been a film by itself, you could actually believe by the end of the first Resident Evil film that it actually was a side story taking place at the same time as the games. It would actually have been quite good as a self-contained story. But then they go and screw it up by saying that one of the survivors at the end of it is turning into the Nemesis. You know, one of the most iconic monsters from the games? And the fact that the Nemesis now has a weaker origin also makes it that the monster feels weaker. In the games he’s practically a terminator that’s out to kill the remaining members of the Stars Unit that know all the dirt on the Umbrella Corporation, and he’s designed to be completely unkillable—he comes back from virtually everything you do to him. But in the film, he only gets one time to shine and he’s picked off easily.
Plus, the Nemesis’s presence at the end of the first film solidified that these films were in their own continuity; they did not take place within the videogames’ continuity. That would have been fine within itself but as we went further and further forwards it became evident that Anderson was really riding the name of the games and was not really concerned with anything else. Monsters are just dropped into the film almost at random; they don’t have the explanation of their videogame counterparts. For example, by the time we get to the third film, the whole world’s fallen into a post-apocalyptic hellscape from the T-virus travelling everywhere (again, something that didn’t happen in the games but Paul Anderson wanted to make tons of allusions to films like Mad Max), but then Anderson brings in creatures from the fourth game despite the fact that that’s the game where the Umbrella Corporation had nothing to do with anything and the T-virus wasn’t even the main plot point. These creatures have now got a new origin that’s completely unexplained; Paul Anderson just put them in there because they would have been “cool” and they were from something very popular. And there are lots of moments like that. Characters from the game are just thrown in willy-nilly, get a few scenes, do nothing much to affect the plot, and are then cast aside. Some of them don’t even show up in later films—do I just assume they’re dead? Oh, and barely any of them maintain their likeable personalities and are all just dreadful husks of their counterparts. In short, Anderson really just has the Resident Evil name; he has his own plot and tells his own story and doesn’t really seem to care too much about the aspects of the source material that he’s lifting from. If he did, he wildly misinterpreted it.
Alice is a terrible lead character
The entire film series follows Alice; initially she discovers she has a high-up role in the Umbrella Corporation after suffering an amnesia attack. Now, as the films went on, her origin became more and more convoluted, but we’ll get to that later. The problem with Alice is, as more and more got revealed about her in the sense of the fact that she was basically a living weapon, she became nigh unstoppable. As a result, there’s no sense of jeopardy to anything she does. What’s more, she doesn’t really show much emotion at all; you don’t seem to get a sense that she cares much about what’s going on around her, it’s all just, ‘I have to get my memories back and kill everyone in the Umbrella Corporation.’ And, as a result, she’s a boring character. The fact she’s an uber-super-powered character also doesn’t really help out at all because, to go back to the games, most of the characters in those are people just caught in a bad situation but they’re ordinary people under difficult circumstances. Usually, they’re highly trained like the specialist police officers or government agents—or, even in a couple of cases, just the ordinary, average person—but with Alice, I don’t get a sense of that. She just feels untouchable, and the fact that you really don’t care about her character means that by the time you get all the resolutions you don’t care at all; you just kind of want to see the credits roll.
The effects have not aged well
The effects started out not that great and got worse as the franchise went on. I know the first Resident Evil film was made in the early 2000s but the Licker looks awful in it, and it’s only getting worse as the years go on. Going back to the Nemesis, yeah, there are a lot of practical effects used to bring him to life and he kind of looks like his face is made up of melted cheese. And while you’re at it, could you not have given the actor who’s wearing the prosthetics some blank contact lenses? The Nemesis is famous for having blank eyes. You would have thought as the films went on that the effects got better, but I don’t think they ever were that great—in every big moment in these films you can just see the computer programmers putting everything in place. The final film has one of the worst explosion shots I have ever seen, I am not joking. And while I’m on it, these films are shot awfully, looking especially at the second movie which seemed to have an obsession with slow-down and speed-up shots, most of which add nothing.
The plotline could never stay stable
I feel like Anderson was changing his mind about what he wanted these films to be because he seemed to just dump whatever the last film was building up to do something completely new. The only time where the films actually flow well from one to another was from first film into the second film: the first film ends with Alice waking up and wandering into a recently overrun Racoon City. After that, they feel weird. (Spoilers for the ends of these films by the way, in case you’re not aware.) The second film ends with Alice getting away with Carlos and Jill under the basis that they are Umbrella agents, and also implies that Alice might be a sleeper agent that’s just been activated; barely any of that is brought up in the third movie. The third movie ends with the idea that Alice is bringing a clone army—for some reason the latter half of this film franchise is obsessed with cloning, something that’s never been a factor in the Resident Evil franchise prior to these films and feels very out-of-place—but the clone army is entirely wiped out by the beginning of the fourth film. The fourth film ends with preparing for a showdown between Alice and Jill; of course, it’s done away with early on in the fifth one and starts a completely new plotline. The fifth one ends with Wesker— after presuming that he’d been killed at the end of the fourth film—still being alive and giving Alice back the powers that he supposedly stole because he needs her to stop the supercomputer, the Red Queen, from wiping out all of mankind, and leads into a battle at the White House. And then the sixth film started after that entire battle had taken place and completely retroactively changed it. So, oh no, Wesker didn’t give her her powers back—the whole thing was a trap… even though nothing indicated that.
Also, characters disappear between films: Chris Redfield shows up in the fourth movie but then is never seen again; Leon and Ada show up in the fifth film but they’re completely absent by the sixth movie; there’s a new character called K-Mart who appears in a couple of films but she disappears entirely after the fourth film, we never see her again. Claire even shows up in the sixth film and doesn’t even mention her brother! And, of course, that was after she’d taken a massive several-film hiatus. What, her brother got killed off-screen and she doesn’t even mention it? Hell, Alice doesn’t even ask about him. That’s nice!
What’s more, they made the weird decision to change villains partway through the franchise. The films had really building up that Wesker was in charge of Umbrella and he was the big bad guy, but then suddenly the minor villain from the third film gets promoted to being the main villain of the franchise in the beginning of the final film, and it turns out Wesker was working under him. The only reason they did that was because Dr. Isaacs was played by Iain Glen and they wanted to cash in on his recognition value since he’d been killed off in the third film and had since been in Game of Thrones. I had an interesting analogy about this, because, as it turns out, the one in the third film was a clone and now the real one has woken up: to quote from Phelous Porteous, this would be like Bill Gates cloning himself and then making the clone a middle management and everyone acting like they didn’t know that Bill Gates was the one in charge of Microsoft! But it leads firmly into the final point:
It has the worst conclusion of any film franchise I’ve ever seen
I actually went to see the final film in cinemas and wrote a review about it, and I mentioned in that review that it took me a minute and 30 seconds to get royally annoyed to the extent I nearly shouted in the middle of the cinema, ‘Oh, come on!’ Within a minute and a half, they had decided to retcon the entire franchise up to that point and had made movies 2-5 entirely unnecessary. Well, mostly 3-5 since they still needed to have the fact that Racoon City got nuked at the end of the second movie. Not only did they have the issue that they changed villains with virtually no explanation, everything about Alice’s origin is stupid: now it turns out the original one is a clone of the daughter of one of the heads of Umbrella, and turns out now she’s the origin of the T-virus even though we established completely different origins in the second movie. And also, now the whole apocalypse had been Umbrella’s plan all along because they wanted to end the world and then rebuild it in their image to stop global warming. Yeah, you already know which film it’s ripping off just from that description alone. And it wouldn’t surprise to know, yes, the villain does have a sort of underground pod filled with all the Umbrella higher-ups and their families to re-establish the New World when the extinction is done and the human race is wiped out.
Share This Post: