MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’

Review by J.T. Johnson

4-stars

DIRECTOR: Paul W.S. Anderson
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Glen MacPherson
WRITER: Paul W.S. Anderson
MUSIC: Paul Haslinger

I must admit that I have had a love/hate relationship with the “Resident Evil” film series over the years. The first thing I gave up on was that it was never going to be a good adaptation of its video game source material. That was okay, though, because what they ended up doing was introducing audiences to a new heroine named Alice, played by Milla Jovovich.

I remember I liked the first film when it was released in 2002. It had a good balance of action and elements from the video games. The second movie was okay, but it featured more elements from “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis” and that was my least favorite game at the time. The third film, “Resident Evil: Extinction” was an improvement as it refocused on Alice’s story.

After watching “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”, I realized why I didn’t particularly like the last two sequels, “Afterlife” and “Retribution”. They tried too hard to shoehorn in elements from the video games and they kept distracting me from Alice’s story, which I did find genuinely interesting. “The Final Chapter” did the best thing possible by abandoning most of its video game source material altogether.

Writer and director Paul W.S. Anderson returned to what made the first film an enjoyable action movie. The ever strong Alice becomes the center of the story once more and returning her to where it all started was a smart move. “The Final Chapter” ends up being a genuinely good ending to the series.

In the movie, Alice is still trying to survive after Wesker (Shawn Roberts) betrayed her and her friends after the events of “Retribution”. Alice then receives an unlikely invitation when the Red Queen (Ever Gabo Anderson) advises her to return to the underground Hive base in order to cure the world of the deadly T-Virus. With her new mission in hand, Alice reunites with Claire (Ali Larter) and other survivors who have to not only access the Hive but also fight off Umbrella’s forces, led by the maniacal Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen).

At the core of these films is the action, which is usually well choreographed and this movie is no different. Anderson also uses a quick-cutting style to make the fights feel more real and urgent. While there were times where I had wished the camera had slowed down a little, this editing technique works out for the most part.

Jovovich has always kicked butt as Alice even in the weakest films in the series. Without all the major superpowers she had collected over the past films, she is vulnerable but still deadlier than most of her enemies, human or undead. They also brought back the only character from the video games that truly worked in the movies.

Larter’s Claire was a welcomed sight considering that I enjoyed her in “Extinction”. The only problem is that she doesn’t have as much to do as I would have liked. That’s excusable because this is really Alice’s story and Claire proves to be the perfect sidekick on this particular adventure.

In the past two sequels, Albert Wesker has been Alice’s main villain, often played by Roberts giving a terribly two dimensional performance each time. This time, Wesker is thankfully pushed mostly to the sidelines and Dr. Isaacs is made to be the Big Bad. Admittedly, his character’s motives and the outright “evilness” of the character is a little laughable, but Glen gives the villain a believability despite what little he is given.

Now, there is a “twist” of sorts in the movie that is unbelievably easy to figure out, but thankfully it doesn’t matter when it is all said and done. The movie doesn’t exactly end on a definite note of finality, but should this be the last movie in the series, it is definitely going out on a higher note than I expected it to. It may not bring any new fans to the series at this point, but it should satisfy those who have followed Alice throughout her apocalyptic adventures.

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