Resident Evil: From worst to best
Disclaimer: Playing and collecting the games, and watching and defending the Resident Evil movies is one of my great passions in life. I love the mythology, the characters and the true escapism it offers, and it is a series I grew up with. You should know this before reading any further…
Edit: This list has now been updated to include Resident Evil : The Final Chapter (2017), so some of what’s written below may not make complete sense. Consider it a tribute to the writing of the series…
Hurl abuse and criticism all you like, the Resident Evil film series is going nowhere.
Intense fans of the cannon games seem to hate it, snobbish film critics dismiss it and it appears as though the story reached its dead end at least 2 entries ago… so why is the world now bracing for the 6th instalment to be unleashed next year? Simply because the haters are the vocal minority, and the majority (myself proudly included) flock to the cinema in droves to see the stunning Alice battle zombies and other T-Virus creations in each of her figure-hugging outfits, and bathe in the eye-popping apocalyptic glory prepared for us with smiles on our faces, popcorn on our laps and a desire to be entertained.
Though it is truthful that each film is left wanting in the script, directing, acting, plotting and setting departments, it is also the case that these downfalls are so obviously the reason for the series’ resonance with its audience. It is incomprehensible that such a series exists, and just how outlandish it has become since its claustrophobic beginning is quite phenomenal, but without such oddities existing the film industry would indeed be an unbelievably boring place. This is why I, a gargantuan fan and collector of the games series from Resident Evil 0 through to 4, love it.
Here are the Resident Evil films ranked in order of quality (yes, that’s right, quality).
6. Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
So, not a lot happens in this entry to be honest, but with Paul W.S Anderson returning to the helm after two entries as writer/producer only there’s no doubting its style and ultra-cool 3D action beauty. The ‘shower scene’ as I like to refer to it, in which Alice and Claire (Ali Larter) battle the Axe Man inside the prison is eye-poppingly gorgeous, and the final fight between Albert Wesker and Alice, Claire and Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) backed by the tunes of A Perfect Circle and taking place in a stark white environment fist-pumpingly awesome. I did mention I’m a fan, didn’t I?
5. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
With an Australian director at the helm in Russel Mulcahy (Razorback, Highlander) it’s no wonder Extinction has a distinctively Mad Max feel. On Blu-ray this desert-set entry dazzles as the crisp sand, sun and blood covers the zombie filled landscape and the booming audio delights the senses. Also, Wesker makes his first appearance, and Alice (with help from a clone) accounts for her first Tyrant – but possibly the smartest move with Extinction was through its bookends harking back to the beloved original.
4. Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
On paper, the plot for this 5th entry appears rather convoluted and layered, on screen however it is clear that is decidedly not the case. Retribution is simple minded but a whole lot of fun, and gives the fans what they want in spades. You want Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) to return despite having been killed? You got it! Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong and fan favourite Barry Burton to be introduced to the story? No Worries! And if like me you also wanted (though didn’t realise it beforehand) to see Wesker sitting in the President’s office in the White House where humanities last stand is apparently taking place, you got that too.
3. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)
This is a franchise that has long been illogical, incomprehensible and of more recent times downright bizarre, and in The Final Chapter this is both embraced and refined. Indulgent action set-pieces still abound, and the script is still cheesy and exposition heavy, but this time around these cherished elements are in support of an exciting narrative that presents a dire future and a noteworthy twist.
2. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Taking the action out of The Hive and onto the streets of Racoon City, Apocalypse is indeed a bigger, more expensive and action packed film than its predecessor, but not quite as good. With a target audience of young males and survival horror gamers, the introduction of Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine (the name alone to set fan-boys hearts fluttering) and villain Nemesis (S.T.A.R.S!) was a stroke of genius, and the rewards were reaped in its impressive box-office haul (to this date, each new film in the series has brought in more than that before it). For the keen gaming eye there are references galore (particularly to Resident Evil 3: Nemesis), and for those not affiliated with the Capcom phenomenon, there is some Alice, sweet Alice.
1. Resident Evil (2002)
Proudly sitting at number 30 in my top 30 films of all time, Resident Evil is a tense, scary and pacey gem of a horror movie with a killer soundtrack by the divisive Marilyn Manson and a great cast of international of talent. It exists in a different world to the games, and is all the better for it, as any attempt at re-creating the terrifying atmosphere of Spencer Mansion would fail dramatically. This is exciting, buzzing industrial horror that any self-respecting genre fan should enjoy and appreciate… after all, it did bring zombies back into the mainstream after a decade in the wilderness, and further the career of the extraordinary Milla Jovovich.
So, are you with me, or against me?