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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Why the Resident Evil Franchise is Awesome

February 8, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #396: Why the Resident Evil movie franchise is awesome!

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that is bummed that the Resident Evil movie franchise had to end at all, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and ninety-six, I attempt to explain why I think the recently completed Resident Evil movie franchise is awesome.

Why the Resident Evil movie franchise is awesome!

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Intro: When Resident Evil hit movie theaters in March of 2002 I don’t think anyone at that time thought that it would be the first in a six movie franchise spanning fifteen years. People on the internets and in the genre press seemed to be interested in the movie, but I don’t remember anyone being all that excited about it. George A. Romero, the man who invented the modern zombie genre, had been set to direct a Resident Evil movie but had been removed for some reason (I believe one of the producers didn’t care for the script). Paul W.S. Anderson, the despised director of Soldier and Event Horizon (it wasn’t okay to like Event Horizon at that point in time), had been hired to direct instead. And the movie that Anderson had proposed to make wasn’t going to be a direct adaptation of the game (as I remember it, Romero’s take on the property used most of the story of the game with some tweaks here and there). The presence of Milla Jovovich was seen as a sort of positive, but who was she set to play? Alice? Who the hell is Alice?

Resident Evil was looking like a disaster. The trailer was chock full of The Matrix type bullshit, it looked super slick, and we still had no idea who the hell Alice was.

And then movie came out, was a bonafide hit the world over, and a movie franchise was born. Resident Evil: Apocalypse came out in 2004, with Anderson returning as the writer and Alexander Witt directing. 2007 saw the third movie in the franchise, Resident Evil: Extinction, with Highlander director Russell Mulcahy directing (Anderson once again scripted). Anderson returned to the director’s chair for the final three movies, Afterlife in 2010, Retribution in 2012, and The Final Chapter in 2017 (Anderson also scripted these three movies, too).

I’ve been a fan of the movie franchise since the beginning and have eagerly awaited each installment in the franchise (The Final Chapter was my “Most Anticipated Movie” for 2017). And now that the franchise, as it exists, is now basically over, I thought it was time to take a look at why the Resident Evil movie franchise is awesome.

So, without any further whathaveyou, here is why I think the Resident Evil movie franchise is awesome.

Warning: Mild Spoilers for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Reasons

The movie franchise took inspiration from the game, didn’t try to be the game and became its own thing: The one thing that annoyed diehards of the video game franchise is the thing that I loved about the first movie and every subsequent entry. Anderson didn’t try to make a straight adaptation of the game. Instead, he took elements from the games up until that point, added in his own stuff, and came up with, essentially, an original creation. That took balls. I mean, the reason the producers wanted the property in the first place was the video game’s rabid fan base. Resident Evil was around seven games in by the time the first movie came out (according to Wikipedia there was a game that was only released in Japan, something called Resident Evil Survivor Code Veronica 2) ad was a big deal pop culture wise. Making something that wasn’t exactly what was already done was a major risk. And it paid off. Big time.

As the franchise continued, characters from the games showed up, sometimes as main characters, like Jill Valentine in Apocalypse, Claire Redfield in Extinction, and sometimes as bad guys or supporting characters like Wesker and Chris Redfield in Afterlife, and Barry Burton and Leon Kennedy in Retribution. We’d see monsters like the Nemesis show up, along with lickers, the zombie dogs, and those fucking crows. The only thing that didn’t show up, at least I don’t remember it showing up, was that fucking killer plant from the second game, that one that would grab your face and poison you (I think I would have called bullshit if it had appeared because, man, that fucking thing was bullshit in the game).

The story also took on a life on its own, with the world eventually being destroyed by the evil machinations of the Umbrella Corporation. Instead of a series of weird zombie and monster stories popping up all over the world, by the time the third movie rolled around the story was like The Road Warrior with zombies in it. Who the hell thought that would happen, especially after the way the first movie ended (I still get goosebumps thinking about that final scene, with Alice standing alone in the middle of a destroyed Raccoon City and the camera moving up into the sky).

Anderson should be commended for all of this.

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Milla Jovovich as franchise star: Jovovich as star was one of the few things that people seemed to be okay with when the first movie was announced. She was still a cool action star of sorts after The Fifth Element, and she was hot. That was enough to generate interest. So she kicked ass in the first movie, doing the “I have amnesia and have no idea what’s going on” thing while killing zombies left and right, and then managed to sell every new aspect of her character in each sequel. At one point Jovovich’s Alice became a kind of superhero, with super strength and speed and telekinetic ability. Jovovich also had to play clones of her Alice character, with varying degrees of personality change (some clones knew what was going on, some didn’t).

Her best performance? Extinction, with Retribution a close second. But her Apocalypse performance? A true thing of beauty. She has to do so much weird stuff in that movie that I’m still amazed that the movie itself was ever made.

And think about this. Jovovich starred in each movie. She didn’t quit after doing a few of them, didn’t go artist on us, didn’t quit doing action movies when she had kids. She hung around to the very end. That is so incredibly cool, especially when you consider that there are six movies in the franchise. Who else but Milla Jovovich is going to do that?

Paul W.S. Anderson managed to make a full B-movie franchise with a decent budget each time: Major B-movie franchises are few and far between. We occasionally get a small horror franchise, like The Purge, but those tend to be the exceptions to the rule. It’s even hard to get a direct-to-video franchise going now. Anderson, though, was able to somehow get Sony, Davis Films, Impact Pictures, and Constantin Films to give him decent budgets for all six of the Resident Evil movies. And by decent I mean between $30 million to $60 million apiece. And Anderson, as he’s been known to do, made those budgets look three times more than they actually were (all of the Resident Evil movies look huge). Will this ever happen again? I doubt it. I’m shocked that the superhero movie people haven’t looked into how Anderson managed to get his movies made for what amounts to a third of what they’re willing to spend. Why not try to make Iron Man for less than $200 million?

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Managed to actually get to six movies: On top of the whole budget thing, think about what the Resident Evil movie franchise actually is. It’s six movies. A complete story. How often does that happen in this day and age? It doesn’t, especially within the whole modern genre movie world. Everyone wants to make a “trilogy” or some bullshit like that. But Anderson managed to get six movies made, two trilogies. That should be commended and celebrated.

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Resident Evil: Apocalypse is insane: Plenty of people don’t like the second movie in the franchise because it “looks cheap” and is, basically, ridiculous. The action is over-the-top, people are bothered by the presence of Mike Epps, and the villain of the story, the monstrous Nemesis, is a hulking creature that’s obviously a man in a suit. Personally, I love the movie because it’s ridiculous. I love that the director, Alexander Witt, had Milla Jovovich run down a wall. I love that the overall action is big and loud and chock full of explosions and whatnot. And I love the Nemesis monster. It looks like the creature in the game but, at the same time, it’s still kind of its own thing (the Nemesis in the game was obviously faster and more brutal, but the one in the movie is scary because it’s three dimensional and, Jesus Christ, it’s walking!). I also like how the movie ends, where we don’t know what the hell is actually going on. How did Alice gain telekinetic ability? What’s the deal with her eye? What the hell is “Project Alice,” anyway? Great stuff.

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Franchise gave Russell Mulcahy a chance to make a big movie again: The great Russell Mulcahy, of Highlander fame, had become a much sought after TV director by the time Resident Evil: Extinction came around, so it was a little surprising when he was named director of the third movie. But I knew that Mulcahy would kick ass because, heck, why wouldn’t he? He’s Russell Mulcahy. He’s worked with Dolph Lundgren, man! Denzel Washington! John Lithgow! Alec Baldwin! And Mulcahy did kick ass directing Extinction. He made a post-apocalyptic, The Road Warrior type movie with zombies and other creatures and shit. It’s the best movie in the series. Mulcahy went back to directing TV after Extinction, although he’s done a few direct-to-video deals, like Give ‘Em Hell Malone and a Scorpion King sequel since then. Maybe he’ll get another shot one of these days, after that Teen Wolf TV show stops being a thing.

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Cool monsters: Just like the video games, the movie franchise has cool monsters. Granted, the movies don’t have gigantic blob things like at the end of the second game (what the fuck was that thing, anyway?), but the movies do have zombies (slow movers, runners, and ones with mutant mouths and whatnot), the Nemesis, the monster in Extinction, various licker type creatures, those fucking dogs, crows, and that dragon thing that’s featured prominently in The Final Chapter. And that’s just awesome. I mean, think about how that dragon really doesn’t seem out of place in a series that’s labeled a “zombie” franchise. What other franchise is going to get away with that kind of thing?

Crazy cliffhangers: The first five Resident Evil movies end with what amounts to a cliffhanger, which is amazing when you realize that there was no real guarantee that there would be another one. And since unresolved cliffhangers are annoying, it was ballsy to end the first five with endings that didn’t finish up the story. Think about the ending to Retribution, with what’s left of the world on the brink of total destruction. How the hell were Alice and the survivors going to get out of it? How would they save the world? Would they save the world? And when you look at the way the first movie ended, with Alice standing alone, in a white lab coat and wielding a shotgun, smack dab in the middle of what’s left of Raccoon City. What “mainstream” movie ends that way? And what the hell was going to happen next?

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Resident Evil: Afterlife, the worst in the series, is still better than most horror/action movies: The first third or so of Afterlife is cool as hell and is really its own sort of short movie. When Alice ends up flying to Alaska and all that Afterlife becomes a different movie. It isn’t bad, but it never quite lives up to the awesomeness of the first third. However, Afterlife was still better than most of the action and horror movies that came out at the same time. Its action scenes were exciting, the movie had that giant axe wielding creature in it, and it made generally good use of 3D. In fact, Afterlife is still one of the best looking 3D movies I’ve ever seen and it is, as I write this, seven years old. That is staying power.

Umbrella is ridiculously evil: The Umbrella Corporation and just about everyone who works for Umbrella is relentlessly evil. There are no shades of gray, no bullshit about how they may be right, they do some good things, they made mistakes that got out of hand, etc. Umbrella is goddamn evil and it needs to be stopped. That is refreshing, especially since everyone wants everything to be “complicated” and “layered.” Umbrella is a horrible outfit and it needs to be stopped. I wish more action movies had completely evil villains.

And think about what Umbrella did throughout the franchise. Zombies, monsters, destroying cities, owning governments all over the world, and eventually destroying the world for bullshit reasons (killing the world so rich people can remake it in their image). Jesus Christ, Umbrella is evil! Evil! Evil! Evil!

Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson personally thanked fans at the beginning of The Final Chapter: Just before The Final Chapter begins star Milla Jovovich and director/producer Paul W.S. Anderson appear together on screen and personally thank the franchise’s fans for sticking with the franchise for fifteen years and supporting the whole enterprise. They didn’t have to do that. They could have just put the movie out and walked away to be rich and fabulous. In fact, I thought it was one of those weird “Thanks for watching our movie now drink a Coke” commercials that tend to appear before movies in theatres nowadays. But it’s really just Jovovich and Anderson thanking the fans. That’s cool. And thank you for making six very cool movies.

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Alice is still out there fighting: I was surprised when The Final Chapter didn’t end with a cliffhanger. Yes, The Final Chapter suggests that the story is over, but, hey, this is the Resident Evil franchise we’re talking about here. Resident Evil movies always end with a cliffhanger of sorts. And when you think about how Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter wasn’t the final anything, it wouldn’t be ridiculous to think that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter wouldn’t end with any sort of finality. And while The Final Chapter doesn’t end with Alice’s story complete or the world back to the way it was before Umbrella destroyed Raccoon City, it does end with hope for the future. Alice is still out there, roaming the Earth, fighting monsters and trying to stop what remains of Umbrella. That’s comforting. At least someone is out there fighting the bad guys. And, hey, if The Final Chapter ends up doing exceptionally well, maybe The Final Chapter won’t be the actual final anything. Perhaps there are other Alice adventures worth seeing.

Yeah, that probably won’t happen. But, again, the movie certainly ends with that possibility, doesn’t it?

Conclusion

The Resident Evil movie franchise is now over. I’d imagine that since the Resident Evil name has value that Sony, Davis Films, Impact Pictures, and Constantin Film will want to continue in some form, perhaps with a movie franchise reboot. Perhaps we’ll get a new live-action movie that resembles the video games more than anything Anderson did, or perhaps we’ll get more of those feature length cartoon deals that look like an extended cinematic from the games. If Anderson and Jovovich don’t get to continue making their movies, I’d like to see another live action attempt at the series, just to see if those people can do something cool, too.

What will Anderson and Jovovich do next? I’d like to think that they’ll collaborate again on something, some action horror sci-fi deal, either an adaptation of something or an original story. But who knows? I’d like to see Anderson take a stab at a super hero movie, but that probably won’t happen (the internets wouldn’t allow it). At least we’ll always have the six Resident Evil movies.

And in the end, that’s what’s important. We’ll always have the six Resident Evil movies. Resident Evil, Apocalypse, Extinction, Afterlife, Retribution, and The Final Chapter. A terrific franchise that will, hopefully, gain fans as the years go on. Al six flicks are worth checking out.

Resident Evil the movie franchise! Yeah!

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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!

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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!

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Resident Evil trailers

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Resident Evil franchise ranked

Resident Evil: Extinction
Resident Evil
Resident Evil: Retribution
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Resident Evil: Afterlife

Agree? Disagree? What’s your personal favorite Resident Evil movie?

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

DeadWest

Dead West: I recently reviewed this flick’s DVD released by the fine folks at RLJ Entertainment and, for the most part, it’s pretty good. It is not a western, though, or an action movie, or much of a horror movie. It has horror movie elements in it, as it’s really about a serial killer that drives around and kills women, but it isn’t a slasher movie. It’s isn’t suspenseful, either. It’s still worth seeing, though. It has some good performances in it, and it’s surprisingly entertaining for a low budget movie that’s almost two hours long. Check out my review of Dead West here, and then check it out.

LifeOnTheLine

Life on the Line: This is the latest low budget effort from former A-list actor John Travolta, who seems to have found a new niche for himself with this kind of movie. Kate Bosworth and Sharon Stone are also apparently in it, but let’s face it, we’re all watching for Travolta. I haven’t seen any of his low budget flicks, although I’m hoping to see that I Am Wrath movie at some point. Anyone out there see this? Has anyone out there seen any of Travolta’s recent low budget efforts?

TheTake

The Take: Idris Elba stars in this action flick that was originally known as Bastille Day but, after the terrorist truck attack in Nice the title was changed to The Take. I have no idea what that title means in the context of the movie, but I assume it will be obvious once you see it. This movie did receive a small theatrical release in the United States, mostly in the big cities like New York City, Los Angeles, places like that. It did play via Video on Demand, so there’s a chance that you may have seen it that way. I haven’t. Definitely rentable.

SinbadWarOfFuries

Sinbad and the War of the Furies: From the fine folks at The Asylum, this is the latest low budget effort from pro wrestler John Morrison/John Hennigan/Johnny Mundo/whatever the hell his name is. I can’t say that this looks great, but it does look kind of fun. I’m surprised that Morrison hasn’t had more movie offers. He has the right look. Rentable.

RueMmorguePhantasmBook

Rue Morgue Magazine’s Authorized Phantasm Film Companion: I recently picked up a copy of this at my local Barnes and Noble and have thumbed through it a bit. It’s obviously not as exhaustive or extensive as Dustin McNeil’s unauthorized Phantasm Exhumed, but this Rue Morgue book still looks to have some cool stuff in it. I hope to have it read by the time I review all five of the Phantasm movies in March. If you don’t find it at your local Barnes and Noble, book store, or comic book shop, you can buy the book here.

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B-Movie News

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Sharknado 5 is happening: I was worried that the ratings for the fourth Sharknado would prevent a fifth movie from happening. I mean, The 4th Awakens got a decent rating and was a pretty decent movie (check out my review of the movie here) but it wasn’t a big goddamn deal like the previous three, and it looked like the whole “Sharknado thing” was over. But part 5 is happening, and it’s apparently going to be a big, worldwide type movie. According to Variety, part 5 will film in the United Kingdom and in Australia, which sounds pretty cool (will we get a Mad Max parody while in Australia? It could happen).

Franchise stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are set to come back, and I’d imagine the people who survived The 4th Awakens will be back, too. But what about new cameos? Will we get any biggish type stars to do a cameo, or will it be more of the same mid-level celebrity stuff? That isn’t a bad thing (where the hell is Lorenzo Lamas? He would kick ass in a Sharknado movie) but it would be hilarious if someone like John Travolta showed up in one of these, or Melissa McCarthy.

Part 5 doesn’t have a title or a release date yet, but I’d imagine that we’ll know those two things soon. I’m betting on a late summer release, like the end of July, beginning of August.

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Escape Plan 2 expected to have both Stallone and Schwarzenegger returning: The improbable sequel to the awesome Stallone/Schwarzenegger team-up flick is expected to have both Stallone and Schwarzenegger back, reprising their roles as professional prison escapee and security specialist Ray Breslin and the shifty Rottmayer, respectively. The movie is expected to have a Chinese set story, as major Chinese money is backing the production, but we don’t know what that means yet. And although they may be coming back and playing the same characters, will Breslin and Rottmayer be the focus of the story once again, the actual stars of the movie, or will they be supporting characters? I guess we’ll find out soon.

I’m shocked that this is happening. I thought that if we ever got a sequel it would be, at best, a low budget, “in name only” direct-to-video sequel starring Scott Adkins or someone like that. But, hey, apparently the actual sequel is going to get a decent budget and a theatrical release of some sort. And that’s cool.

Am I the only one who liked Escape Plan?

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Who is this week’s Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: My Bloody Valentine!

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Check out my review of david j. moore’s The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly here!

Check out my interview with the man hisself david j. moore here!

Check out the interview I did with the great Jino Kang here!

Check out my interview with character actor Vladimir Kulich here!

Check out my interview with martial artist and actor Paul Mormando here!

Check out my interview with writer/actor/director Shahin Sean Solimon here!

Check out my interview with director Michael Matteo Rossi here!

Check out my interview with actor Tyrone Magnus here!

Check out my interview with Hector Barron here!

Check out my interview with Jeffrey Orgill here!

Check out my interview with director Michael Baumgarten here!

Check out my interview with actor and stuntman R. Marcos Taylor here!

Check out my interview with action movie legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson here!

Check out my interview with Paul Kyriazi, the director of Ninja Busters and Death Machines, here!

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Follow me on Twitter!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

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