As a fan of the games, it’s honestly quite sad Paul W.S. Anderson was able to make so many Resident Evil films. It’s even sadder when I factor in that when he was first announced as the series adaptor, I was hyped. I mean, back then he had done Mortal Kombat and Event Horizon. Given that I liked both films, I was okay with him directing a Resident Evil adaptation. Then I saw it and wanted to throw up. I even did research about the time the second film came out and discovered that George Romero, the director whose works inspired the Resident Evil games, had written a script that was very much an adaptation of the first game with a few slight changes. You can read the script here.
The fact that Romero’s script was never made into a proper Resident Evil film is nothing short of criminal. The script involved The Arklay Mansion incident from the first game. It featured Jill and Chris as the main protagonists, Wesker as the villain and it even managed to get Ada Wong in there for an early introduction. Admittedly, it did change a few things. For one, some of the other S.T.A.R.S. members are given bigger roles. Barry and Wesker were childhood friends, although Wesker was still the villain. But the biggest change was that Chris wasn’t a member of S.T.A.R.S. in the script. Chris was instead a farmer who was romantically involved with Jill. However, Romero still gave Chris a big enough part where something like that was easy to overlook. This was the movie we needed.
However, it wasn’t meant to be. Capcom dismissed Romero’s script and instead went with Anderson’s, a script that had next to no connection with the games at all. I honestly never understood Capcom’s logic with this decision. Romero’s script featured the characters from the games, the story of the first game and even managed to capture the spirit of Resident Evil as a survival horror flick. His works are what inspired Resident Evil in the first place so how can they look at this guy’s near perfect adaptation and say, “you aren’t good enough”? Yet, they can turn around and say that Anderson’s nonsense is “exactly what we’re looking for”? So, because Capcom was run by idiots, Paul W.S. Anderson got to make six insufferable adaptations that butchered whatever dignity the games may have once held.
Well, I never thought I’d see the day but it finally happened; Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil film series has finally ended. The Final Chapter was his last and there’s no more currently in development. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Now that the nightmare has finally ended, I felt it was time to offer one final blow to this abominable series. At least while the most recent one is still playing in theaters. How can I do that? By ranking all of the films, of course. Now, do I think any of these movies are good? No, not at all. However, I will admit that some were definitely a lot less painful than others. So, without further ado, these are Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil movies ranked from bad to worse.
#6: Resident Evil: Apocalypse
As I said before, I don’t think any of these movies are “good”. However, if I was forced to sit down and watch any one of them, this is the one I’d most likely choose. The fact is that Resident Evil: Apocalypse, while not good as a whole, gave me a little more of what I wanted. It gave me Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), it gave me Carlos (Oded Fehr), it gave me a near perfect representation of Raccoon City and it gave me Nemesis (Matthew G. Taylor). While this film pretty much butchers Resident Evil’s 2 & 3, I will give Witt the credit that he did his best to recreate certain moments from the games. It’s noteworthy to point out that Emily Bergl had signed on to play Claire Redfield. However, Bergl left the project and the script was re-written at the last minute.
Remember the end of this movie where Alice was being gunned down by a helicopter? That was originally meant for Claire. It was something that Claire did in Resident Evil: Code Veronica. I don’t think it’s a good movie but I give Witt all the credit in the world that he tried to at least make the film visually appealing for fans. Nemesis looked great, Jill looked great, Carlos was cool (despite looking nothing like his video game counterpart) and the moments Witt recreated were decently handled. The police shootout in the alleyway was taken directly from Resident Evil 2. However, that leads to the biggest problem with the movie. The characters from the games barely did anything because the script was too centered on Alice (Milla Jovovich), a character who had never been in the games.
I came here to see the characters from the games, not some random character that Anderson made up because he wanted to turn Resident Evil into Alice In Wonderland. On top of that, so many things killed this movie. Nemesis turning good was insulting and a complete betrayal of the character. Mike Epps plays an annoying comic relief that sadly doesn’t die. The film completely fails as a zombie picture. There’s really not a ton of zombie violence in this one. Zombies coming out of graves? What? This is a viral outbreak, not Dawn Of The Dead. There’s a whole subplot with this little girl who has a really stupid father. The Umbrella operatives said they couldn’t find her and then, one scene later, her father turns on her locator? Why didn’t he just use that, to begin with? Was he high?
On a final note, Alexander Witt had originally wanted to call the film Resident Evil: Nemesis. However, the studio changed it to Apocalypse at the last minute. They feared that it would draw comparisons to Star Trek: Nemesis, which had recently been released. So, yeah, Resident Evil: Apocalypse isn’t a good movie but, out of all of them, this was the lesser of all the Evils… or the greater of the Evils. I don’t know, this pun is dying so let’s just move on…
5: Resident Evil (2002)
As I stated above, I am still furious that this film got made instead of Romero’s. However, this is one of the most tolerable of the series. First of all, it’s really the only one that doesn’t mess with the continuity of the games. It technically takes place before the games so, if you wanted to, you could just ignore the sequels that came after it and just enjoy this as its own thing. Or at least, I could if the movie was any good. I will give it this, it is the best in terms of acting, which given the series’ track record doesn’t say a whole lot. I’ll also give Marilyn Manson credit that his score for the film was very eerie and memorable. But, I’m sorry, this is NOT Resident Evil. Resident Evil is survival horror. It’s suspenseful and full of tension with memorable characters.
This film is a pseudo-action/sci-fi picture that just happens to have zombies in it. The characters in the games were elite officers and operatives, for sure. But they weren’t commandoes looking for a war. You could relate to the character’s in the games because they felt like real people stuck in a horrific situation. Most of the characters in this adaptation feel the same. Outside of maybe two of them, there’s nothing about them that stands out at all. Anderson wrote a script where most of the characters are just generic commandoes that no one can identify with. Speaking of his writing, I’m still trying to figure out why he felt it was a good idea to turn Resident Evil into Alice In Wonderland with zombies.
I’m serious, the Alice In Wonderland references in this film are off the scale. For example:
- What do the scientists test the virus on? White Rabbits.
- What’s the lead character’s name? Alice.
- What’s the villain’s name? The Red Queen.
- What’s the major death scene everyone remembers from this movie? A woman getting her head lopped off like a dandelion.
- Where’s the entrance to The Hive located? Through a looking glass
- Where’s The Hive itself located? Underground (down the rabbit hole).
I mean, why? What was the point of that? If this was some other movie with zombies, I’d be okay with it. This is Resident Evil. The games don’t have Alice In Wonderland overtones so why did he make that connection? Aside from that monument to stupidity, the rest of this film seems to be a monument to stupidity. For example, The T-Virus escapes through air ducts of an underground facility. So, naturally, these commandos walk into the facility with three civilians and never bother to put on gas masks. Yeah, this is an airborne toxin so by that logic, shouldn’t they all be infected?
Two of the main characters have amnesia and have memories come back to them when it’s most convenient to the plot. Who these two characters turn out to be is painfully predictable. I’m surprised they didn’t have the words “Unsung Hero” and “Obvious Villain” tattooed on their foreheads. Michelle Rodriguez and Milla Jovovich both get a couple moments to shine and Eric Mabius is by the far the best actor in the film, playing Matt Addison (the guy will become Nemesis in Apocalypse). Aside from that, this is as generic as generic gets. I don’t know what this movie was trying to be but whatever it was, it sure wasn’t Resident Evil and it sure as hell sucked.
#4: Resident Evil: Extinction
The first Resident Evil was a massive disappointment. Resident Evil: Apocalypse was a little better but didn’t exactly help. Resident Evil: Extinction was where we, the fans, realized that there was no hope for this franchise. From here on out, we understood that with every new retcon and every new plot hole, this film series was just gonna keep hurting us. It’s funny, I just reviewed Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and I made a statement in that review that I felt it was worse than Highlander II. Why is that funny? Well, because of the director of Highlander II, Russell Mulcahy, directed this film. Granted, he also directed the first Highlander film (one of my favorite films, by the way) but he definitely didn’t bring his A-Game when it came to Resident Evil: Extinction.
Despite the infection being contained in the last film, Resident Evil: Extinction completely retcons that and the infection has now gone global. It’s gotten to the point where it turned the entire planet into one big barren wasteland. How a single virus dried up rivers, destroyed all plant life and turned the world into a desert is beyond me. But I guess that’s Resident Evil Movie Logic for you. This film opens exactly like the first film with Alice walking through the mansion, making you wonder if you simply popped in the wrong Blu-Ray. Evidently, Dr. Issacs (Iain Glen) is cloning Alice to find a cure for the virus and I guess the best way to test his clones is to put them through scenarios Alice had already been through… scenarios he had no way of knowing Alice had already been through.
Yeah, you pretty much discover in the opening that this movie is gonna be a lot like eating a bad fortune cookie. It’s full of nonsense and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Trust me, all the ripoffs of Day of the Dead & The Road Warrior don’t work in its favor either. Whereas the original was trying to be a generic action film, Resident Evil: Extinction is trying to be a bad Mad Max movie. Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) appears with a whole convoy of people, including Carlos and LJ (Mike Epps). Don’t get too excited though because once Super Alice shows up, these characters become pretty useless. Just like Apocalypse, characters from the games are relegated to the background to make room for more Alice. It’s just as well, Claire is pretty much an “In-Name-Only” character anyway.
The entire plot is stupid, most of the characters are disposable cutouts and Wesker appears in the film just to sit in a chair and be boring. Yeah, thanks for that. Now, there’s actually two things I sort of enjoyed in this movie. I liked the sequence with the crows but, of course, Super Alice had to show up with her psychic powers and ruin everything. Oh yeah, Alice has superpowers now. Why? I don’t know… Cats… Cats are why. The other thing I enjoyed and… I can’t believe the words are coming out of my mouth but I actually enjoyed Carlos in this film more than Carlos in the game. I didn’t hate Carlos in the game but he was never very interesting. However, here they make him kind of awesome. Furthermore, the way he dies (spoiler alert) only makes him more awesome.
But as we all know, if something seems awesome in this series, the films will somehow find a way to ruin that. This leads us to…
#3: Resident Evil: Retribution
So how badly did this one screw up? Well, it took them 5 years to put out another one, that should tell you something. Retribution is the third film in the franchise directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and my god, does it show. Say what you will about Witt & Mulcahy, at least they attempted to give their films some style. Anderson opted to instead make Resident Evil: Retribution an editor’s worst nightmare with sporadic horribly choreographed action scenes that only got more ridiculous as the film went on. Much like Resident Evil: Afterlife, which we’ll get to in a minute, this is a film where the plot is almost impossible to follow, things from earlier in the series are either contradicted or ignored altogether and, as a result, you couldn’t care less about anything happening.
The last film introduced Chris Redfield into the series and even brought back Claire & K-Mart for round 2. Where are they in Retribution? We have no idea and Alice doesn’t seem to care so why should we? But you know who did come back; Jill Valentine. You know, that character from the games that we hadn’t seen in the films since the end of Apocalypse. But, this wasn’t the same Jill. Jill was turned a brainwashed assassin… I think… and she’s working for The Red Queen who wants to wipe out humanity even though The Red Queen was trying to save humanity in the first film and… my god, what is going on? When and how did Jill become an agent for The Red Queen? When and how did The Red Queen take over Umbrella? This is never explained.
It made sense in Resident Evil 5, which this is clearly taking “inspiration” (I’m using that term loosely) from. They explained in that game that Wesker took Jill and implanted a mind control device on her chest. They do sort of the same thing here but there is a ton of information and plot missing between the events of Resident Evil: Apocalypse and now. How could they possibly make this movie more of a joke? Characters who died in previous films come back as clones. Yeah, way to bring Carlos back only to have him die unceremoniously. Furthermore, why would they even clone Carlos, to begin with? Why would they clone Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) and One (Colin Salmon) from the first film? On top of that, the only ones who get any decent screentime are Rain and Jill so why did they even bother?
But evidently, they weren’t the only clones as Alice was also being cloned in an underground facility. Her clones were put through scenarios for… I don’t know, kicks and giggles I guess. There’s also a clone of a little girl who is quite literally a Newt ripoff from Aliens. There’s even a scene where a licker takes the girl and puts her in a cocoon. How much more blatant with his ripoffs can a director possibly be? Oh, before I forget, Ada (Bingbing Li), Leon (Johann Urb) and Barry (Kevin Durand) were all introduced in this film. Much like Claire, they are all “In Name Only” characters. They look like their game characters but act nothing like them so I honestly couldn’t care less. Also, Wesker is a good guy now… I give up.
#2: Resident Evil: Afterlife
Awhile back I did a list of the worst Video Game adaptations. You can follow the link here to view that at your leisure. Resident Evil: Afterlife was near the top of that list and for good reason. At the time, it was not only one of the worst video game adaptations but was also the worst Resident Evil film ever made. Resident Evil: Afterlife was not only an awful slow motion nightmare from start to finish but, unlike the other films, this one was just boring. Ungodly boring, in fact. The other films, for how much they angered me, at the very least didn’t put me to sleep. Resident Evil: Extinction ended with the cliffhanger of Alice having an entire army of clones at her disposal. So how does this film handle that?
Obviously, through a cop out, where all the Alice clones are killed off in the first 10 minutes. Thanks for coming back to the director’s chair, Anderson. MISSED YA! I mean, the amazing possibilities with an entire army of Alice clones were virtually endless. Why would that be abandoned so soon? Why did he even bother writing that at the end of Extinction if he wasn’t going to use it? But anyway, this is yet another film in the series that has absolutely no plot to speak of. Afterlife instead just drags and drags until it gets to the next slow-motion action set piece. There is so much slow-motion in Resident Evil: Afterlife, I’m actually convinced that if you sped up all the slow-mo shots, the movie would only be about 40 minutes long.
The only thing this movie really had going for it was Albert Wesker (played this time by Shawn Roberts). I’ll give this guy a little credit that he seems to be having a ton of fun playing this role. It’s certainly a less interesting, watered down version of the character from the games. However, it is a little cool seeing an actor commit this much to it. He chewed up every scene he was in so, while the character was still written badly, the performance at the very least stuck out. Wesker’s plan in this movie is to eat Alice. I’m not even joking. Again, the film version of the character sucks but at least the actor is having fun. At this point, that’s about all we can ask for.
Resident Evil: Afterlife also brings back Claire and K-Mart from Extinction, while also introducing Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller). Yeah, the main character from the original Resident Evil and they waited until NOW to introduce him. To add insult to injury, Miller just wasn’t very good in the role. He played it too monotone and stoic and he felt nothing like Chris Redfield. He’s a good actor and all, he just wasn’t very good in this role and that’s mostly due to the writing. The writing for all of the characters was terrible. You had all these side characters who added nothing and pretty much did nothing but die and get chased. Aside from that, Chris and Claire have virtually nothing to do because, once again, the film has to make room for Super Alice.
Claire gets an annoying slow-mo fight with The Executioner. The film never explains why The Executioner is there, he just kind of is. Does Claire kill The Executioner herself? If you think she does, you obviously haven’t been paying attention. No one from the games was actually allowed to be cool in these movies. So, of course, The Executioner gets back up and Alice has to save Claire and kill it herself. Claire and Chris have a fight with Wesker that emulates a fight from Resident Evil 5 (Really badly, I might add). Do Chris and Claire beat him? Of course not. Super Alice steps in and blows his head off.
The film also introduced the Las Plagas without ever explaining it. So audiences just witnessed zombies with horribly CGI’d squid faces for absolutely no reason. Las Plagas originated in Resident Evil 4 and wasn’t even derived from the T-Virus. It was a parasite. Clearly, there is no understanding of this so… yeah, squid zombies! Why? Who cares? You’ll pay to see it, right? Also, the world isn’t a baron wasteland anymore for some reason. We were shown in Resident Evil: Extinction that the world had become a huge dead wasteland of deserts. None of that is here. I guess Anderson wanted me to remember the characters from the last movie and nothing else that happened. However, for as terrible as this movie was, nothing could have prepared me for what was to come….
#1: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter isn’t just the worst film of the franchise. It isn’t only the worst video game adaptation ever made. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is one of the worst films I have ever seen… Period. I cannot believe how horrible this movie was. Obviously, I expected it to be a terrible movie. I knew this was gonna be bad going into it… but I had NO IDEA!!!! I was not mentally prepared for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and I am convinced that sitting through it has made me dumber as a result. This movie could have wrapped things up nicely and made the seemingly endless plot-holes make some semblance of sense. However, all Resident Evil: The Final Chapter did was make things more confusing, while simultaneously treating its fan base like idiots.
While the other Resident Evil films had plot-holes, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter has plot-canyons. Being that I already did a spoiler-free review of the movie for the site, I reserve the right to tear this movie apart properly with spoilers here. If you don’t want to be spoiled, here is a link to the spoiler free review. For everyone else, we are now going to play a little game called:
The Top 5 Plot Canyons In Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
5. The Anti-Virus
So the plot of this movie revolves around The Red Queen recruiting Alice to retrieve the last vile of The Anti-Virus from The Hive. Evidently, if she throws it on the ground, it will disperse through the winds and end the zombie apocalypse. So are you honestly going to tell me that all anybody had to do, this entire time, was smash a vile of The Anti-Virus on the ground and that would have ended the apocalypse? Really? Are you serious? Okay, I don’t know why no one thought to do that before. The T-Virus was an airborne toxin in the first film. It stands to reason The Ant-Virus would be an airborne toxin as well.
4. The Red Queen
The Red Queen was trying to stop the infection in the first film. Then in Retribution, The Red Queen took over umbrella and was trying to spread the infection to destroy mankind. Now, in The Final Chapter, The Red Queen is all buddy-buddy with Alice and wants to save humanity again. Are you kidding me? Is it so much to ask for any consistency with this character? Is it helping Alice in The Final Chapter after it tried to kill her in Retribution? Oh, and The Red Queen wasn’t modeled after Angela Ashford, completely contradicting Resident Evil: Apocalypse… but more on that later.
3. Albert Wesker Is Dr. Issacs Little Puppet?
Yes, Wesker is taking orders from Dr. Issacs now and is said to be merely an “employee of Umbrella.” This is a complete contrast to Resident Evil: Extinction where Issacs was taking orders from Wesker, was clearly intimidated and threatened by Wesker and where Wesker was the CEO of Umbrella. We also discover that it was Wesker’s job to kill Alice in Retribution. Um… then why did he save her? If his mission was to kill her then why did he bother sending a strike team to help her and recruit her for that supposed “Last Stand” we never got to see? What was even the point? All he had to do was leave her in the facility and let her die.
Also, on a side note, it took a volcano and a rocket launcher to take out Wesker in the games… In Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, all it takes is a falling door. Yeah, a door falls on his leg and he bleeds out. How would he die from that? He has The T-Virus! He survived getting his head blown off in Afterlife but a door is gonna give him the ax? Are you kidding me?
2. Alice Was Really A Clone Placed In The Mansion 10 years ago.
What happened to Alice being a security operative for Umbrella, protecting The Hive entrance? First, Alice was married to the guy who caused the outbreak in the first place. Second, her real civilian name was Janice Prospero, while Alice was merely her code name. Third, she was working within the company to take them down. Now, all of that has been retcon’d. Evidently, the Alice we’ve been following was a clone the whole time. See, Dr. Marcus created the T-Virus for his daughter who aged rapidly. His daughter’s name was Alicia (because that sounds nothing like Alice at all) and he modeled The Red Queen after Alicia. Alice was merely a clone of Alicia, the now elderly daughter or Marcus who was confined to a Wheelchair in The Hive.
Um… Okay, where to even begin. First of all, you already established in Apocalype that Dr. Ashford created the T-Virus, not Dr. Marcus. Second, you also established in Apocalypse that Ashford modeled The Red Queen after his daughter, Angela Ashford. Third, Dr. Issac’s research in Extinction was hellbent on him finding Alice because, as he put it, “she was the original.” Lastly, you already established that she had a life before The Mansion 10 years ago through flashbacks. I’m sorry, you can’t just retcon whatever you want just because you wrote yourself into a corner, Anderson. THINK! I can’t even believe I have to get angry about this. COME ON!
1. Dr. Issacs’ And Umbrella’s Plan This Entire Time Was To Exterminate The Human Race Via Noah’s Ark Logic.
Really? From what I recall, this whole thing started with some douche in the first film releasing a vile of The T-Virus to cover his tracks so that he could sell the virus and make a mint. Yet, we’ve somehow gone from that to Umbrella orchestrating the entire apocalypse from the get-go. Oh, and if Issacs and Umbrella wanted to spread the virus and wipe out humanity, then why were they trying to cure the virus in Resident Evil: Extinction? Why did Issacs go through all the trouble of making an army of Alice clones to cure the virus if he never wanted a cure in the first place? Why were the Umbrella board members so worried about spending decades underground if that was their original intention anyway?
And folks, those are just the worst problems with this movie. The characters are all canon fodder (except for Alice, of course) and you don’t care if one of them lives or dies. The editing in this film is so awful, sometimes it’s hard to even tell who dies. The only two characters from the games are sidelined AGAIN to make room for more Super Alice. The lighting and sound design are the worst in the entire series. This film features a barrage of never-ending jump scares and it’s beyond annoying. The film fails to bring any sort of finality or closure for fans of the series and even when it tries, it fails because of all the obvious retcons. Oh and we still have no idea what happened to Jill, Leon, Ada, Chris, K-Mart, Angela or Becky.
So folks, that’s it. We can now sit back and take comfort in the fact that this film series is finally over. I can only pray that a filmmaker who actually understands and respects the Resident Evil lore will come in and do a solid reboot. Look, I’m not asking for zombie plants. I’m not even asking for zombie sharks but for the love of god, just respect the material. Just get the basics right. This should not be that complicated. If you want to make a GOOD Resident Evil movie, then just play Resident Evil… and then make something exactly like it! This isn’t rocket science!
So what are your thoughts on this series? Please comment and let us know and stay tuned for more articles and reviews at TheNerdStash.com.
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.