Resident Evil-The Final Chapter


How come horror films are entertainment? How come people pay hard earned cash to watch something so scary? How sadistic is it of human beings that some of the popular movies ever made are so violent?

When James Whale’s Frankenstein was released in 1931, legend has it, theater goers where so terrified by Boris Karloff’s (who played the monster) very realistic looking costume makeup, they fled the theater in horror.

We have come a long way from those times. When I saw the movie, which was about three years ago, it felt more like a comedy than a horror movie. This is in sharp contrast with the generation that was deeply distressed by the movie. And I wonder what would happen to those same people if they saw Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, or the Italian-produced Cannibal Holocaust. Are we becoming less sensitive? Why does a film need to go to such extremes to scare a Millennial?

On the contrary, I actually think Millennials are more likely to be affected by real life violence than later generations. We do live in a relatively stable and peaceful century (although it is too early to tell). Technological achievements in medical science have also made premature deaths less likely. All of this should mean that Millennials are dramatically unexposed to disorder, chaos and bereavement. The only reason we do have the stomach to digest onscreen bloodshed is because we have been desensitized to violence (and sex) in movies. We are far more acutely aware of the fact that films are only fiction.

On this rather optimistic note, let us discuss the final chapter of the action/horror movie franchise, Resident Evil. The film series was based on a video game of the same name. The original plan was to develop the movie with horror movie maestro George A. Romero, of the Living Dead film series. That did not happen, instead the film went to a man called Paul W.S. Anderson to exclusively write and direct. He turned it into a fairly watchable weekend fare.

The Final Chapter picks up where Resident Evil: Retribution left off. Alice wakes up inside the bunker of an all but destroyed White House to a Washington DC that looks exactly like what hell should look like. Shortly thereafter, she battles a monster bred by the T-Virus (which is the central plot device to the entire film franchise). But things change when she must get to the city’s last remaining computer.

Apparently, amid the apocalypse that is supposedly to have wiped out almost all of mankind, artificial satellites are still up and running. Alice is contacted by the artificial intelligence super program Red Queen, which up until this installment was a villain. The Red Queen tells Alice that there is a cure to the virus. Alice, who is super cautious, as any person who has been through a harrowing apocalypse would be, asks why the AI does not just kill off all the Umbrella Corporation members if it was so predisposed towards humanity. The Red Queen replies by saying it is programmed not to do any harm to the company. Of course, the Red Queen is harming the company anyways, by telling Alice exactly how to destroy it. The Final Chapter, by the way, is not a very well thought out.

Alice, as always finds a group of humans that are also fighting the corporation. After mobilizing a small army, she goes back to the Hive, the base of the Umbrella Company, where the antivirus is located, and where the first film of the franchise takes place, for a final showdown between Alice and all the company has got.

Paul W.S. Anderson is not to be confused with the more famous, and far more gifted, Paul Thomas Anderson (probably the greatest filmmaker of our generation). In fact, the former Anderson is not a film director that Hollywood usually boasts about. He is not mentioned in awards circuits, and neither does he make box office hits. He settles for moderate commercial films we all forget a weekend later, like Pompeii and all but two installments of the Resident Evil franchise. The first Resident Evil, written and directed by Anderson, was not all bad, but was still not as interesting as his one and only critically successful movie, Mortal Kombat. The guy does like his video games.

Anderson is married to the fantastic Milla Jovovich, who plays the feisty Alice in this movie. She is a lesser sung-about leading female screen actor, who would probably be up there in the ranks of Sigourney Weaver (Alien franchise) and Linda Hamilton (first two Terminator movies) had the Resident Evil movies been interesting. Sadly they were not, but Jovovich remains the single driving force behind the franchise’s appeal, however slight it may be.

I always say, if a movie has no intention of being contemplative or satirical, let it at least have some funny jokes (like in the case of The Dictator) or heart thumping action sequences (like in the case of Terminator: Salvation). In The Final Chapter, the action scenes are very hard to watch, more nauseating than entertaining. The scenes are cut into so many shots, it is impossible to tell who is doing what, and in some cases, who is winning. At this point I am just happy the franchise has come to an end, although nothing is ever written in stone in Hollywood. There is already talk of a reboot.


By Christian Tesfaye
Exclusive to Fortune

Published on Feb 07,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 875]



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