The Resident Evil movie franchise is barely coherent, but it could be worse. It should be worse, because the games are total nonsense. RE games are all about brief glimmers of horror, ludicrous premises, and ridiculous crap that totally undermines any sense of eeriness or suspense. They are made by Capcom, so inevitably you need to shoot a bad guy in his vulnerable spot to turn him into an even more powerful bad guy powered by several glowing nodules that are its only weak spots. Then you fight more zombies. Then you find out things aren’t really what they seemed and someone probably betrayed you.
Having watched what is hopefully the last Resident Evil movie, I have some advice for the director of the inevitable reboot on how to stay true to the franchise’s video game roots:
Camera Angles: Resident Evil movies can’t stay true to the games without awkward camera angles and abrupt transitions that leave the protagonist confused and often running in the wrong direction. As a bonus, the audience could be left totally disoriented, as though they were watching a Transformers film.
Alice, the protagonist, is running away from a zombie with no apparent goal in sight, suddenly the camera angle switches, she looks confused but notices a door that she had overlooked before. She rushes toward the door, and the camera angle changes again, leaving her so befuddled that she actually reverses course and runs into the zombie that she had been trying to avoid.
Green Herb: The central theme of the RE video games is finding green and red herbs, which you use to restore your depleted health.
Alice sits in a burned out car smoking marijuana. She is motivated to leave the car when she sees a pot plant through the window of a nearby house. She fights several zombies to gain access to the house and then harvests the plant to prepare another joint. She sits down and smokes it, which relieves her chronic pain condition.
Smashing Crates: True, Alice does search the movie set on occasion for equipment, but her visual pat downs are a mere tip of the hat to the game franchise.
Alice enters a room in which several crates are stored. She immediately pulls out her knife and slashes the crates until the wood explodes into tiny fragments. She finds a single box of bullets inside of each crate, which leads her to question what sort of company would package single items in such unnecessarily large and unwieldy containers without any packing material whatsoever. She then rips open every locker in the room in search of green herb and white powder.
Arbitrary Collectibles: Video game characters in general have an obsessive tendency to collect bottle caps, bobble heads, snow globes, and other assorted brick-a-brac. Yet the protagonist of the RE movies does not horde garbage.
Alice is talking to another character but pauses in mid-sentence when she spots something glimmering in the distance. She clambers up into an air vent and crawls through a convoluted series of obstacles so that she can take a potshot to dislodge the object wedged in a crevice. She returns to her companion with a bottle cap and says, “I think this will come in handy.” It doesn’t. In the director’s cut of the movie an additional half-hour of footage is devoted to her collecting bottle caps.
Bizarre Shenanigans: From a cinematic perspective, Resident Evil films get an A+ for defying common sense, but Capcom adaptations demand an almost Uwe Boll level of claptrap, as though reality were an inconvenient afterthought sunk in the wake of the S.S. Pandering to Pubescence. There just aren’t enough subterranean shooting ranges beneath small European mountain villages and elaborate columns of spinning blades integrated into prison security systems when you watch it on video.
Alice is fighting Whisker, the feline clone of Wesker, and ducks into a utility closet to avoid an attack. Since this is Resident Evil, it turns out to be a warehouse-sized room where the janitor stored his rusty meat hook collection. She looks around to see if she is alone and calls out, “Is anyone here?” A voice in the darkness responds, “Got some rare things on sale, stranger.” Alice spots a mysterious merchant standing in a corner and purchases some extra ammunition from him while he modifies her gun. She wonders how and why the merchant managed to infiltrate a secure facility rife with death traps and zombified predators to set up shop in a location with almost zero foot traffic. They make out.
So why do I make my wife watch these movies, sequel after sequel? They have zombies in them. Duh! I’d watch Fox News if it had zombies.