Top critical review
"The problem was... they didn't stay dead"
on 10 February 2016
This is a review more on the films themselves than the boxset. The boxset itself I can't find anything to complain about. You get all the films as advertised with each on its own disk. If this is what you were looking for, you'll be happy I suppose. Yadda yadda.
As a big fan of the Resident Evil games, it was more of curiosity that made me watch these films. I saw the first two when I was younger, but never watched beyond that. It was only recently I decided to purchase this and watch the rest (apart from 5: Retribution of course). I did try and enjoy them for their own merits and watch them with a fresh mind and perspective. Sadly, I just didn't find the films very good. In fact, they're pretty terrible.
Resident Evil: A woman named Alice wakes up with amnesia, only to soon be captured by Special Forces. They take her along on their mission to shut down a rogue AI in an underground laboratory called the Hive where a deadly virus has been released, turning all the employees into mutant zombies. This one in my opinion is probably the only somewhat decent film of the film franchise. It does feature good moments of suspense and it has a good atmosphere, with the beginning containing subtle references to the mansion in the first game and most of the film taking place in the claustrophobic halls of the Hive lab. Even though the Hive and many of the other elements were never in the games, the film does a pretty stand-up job of capturing the tension of roaming unwarily around hallways, unaware of what's going to pop out next. It has tight pacing and doesn't feel like it drags too long in one place and even has a great ending to boot. Thankfully, this is before a lot of the huge problems of the later films begin to surface. Unfortunately, like the later films, the characters are bland as cardboard, apart from the feisty Michelle Rodriquez who puts in an excellent performance as Rain. Unlike the STARS members or other characters from the games, you never feel like these characters share a friendship or bond with each other and just end up making me tap my watch wondering when they will inevitably get eaten. Most dialogue is centered around "Do this, do that, bla bla." Most of the characters end up getting killed off very early in the film in one scene, which is a shame as I felt that more could have been accomplished with them to make the viewers care for them. But overall, it was a decent shot at adapting Resident Evil to live action even if it wasn't particularly good. Compared to videogame films like Doom or Alone in the Dark, the first Resident Evil is perhaps one of the only movies that at least tried.
Resident Evil 2 - Apocalypse: Picking up almost immediately from the last film, Apocalypse follows what happens when all of the creatures from the Hive are released into Raccoon City and proceed to start a zombie apocalypse. Alice joins forces with the few survivors of the outbreak as they all attempt to escape the city before it gets nuked. As entertaining as this entry was, it was of much lower quality than the first film. This one focuses more on action and explosions. These were fun for maybe the first half of the movie but with forgettable characters and a bad plot (The cause of the Raccoon incident being that Umbella apparently cannot lock a giant door when they clearly know lots of monsters are behind it, Alice being the center of the world with all characters revolving around her, crying Nemesis and Umbrella somehow passing a nuclear explosion off as a reactor meltdown), it starts to get real old real quick. You can see they tried to insert some of the game characters there like Jill and Carlos, but their personalities are nothing like their game counterparts, they're as boring and underdeveloped as the movie characters and only seem to be there to meet Alice and support her existence. There's even token black character: LJ, who acts as comic fodder! On the other hand, it was nice to at least see a live action zombie apocalypse of Raccoon City on high budget so I suppose it's worth a watch just for that. But, aforementioned problems and the Godpowers ending foreshadow why this movie series should have stopped with the second movie.
Resident Evil 3 - Extinction: Taking place sometime after the events of Apocalypse, Extinction follows the adventures of Alice across Nevada as she tries to help a band of survivors reach the supposed safety of infection-free Alaska whilst braving crazed hillbillies, killer crows and the Z's, but not before the big bad Umbrella corporation try to capture her again for their clone experiments to domesticate the zombies. This is when it starts to get awful, to be honest. The story is worse than the previous film, which whilst not good, still had a narm-charm quality to it that still made it watchable. The zombie infection still spreads from Raccoon City to the world in a matter of weeks (I guess this makes the Umbrella nuking the city plot from the second film rather pointless in hindsight) and the T Virus has also turned everywhere into a desert and dried up all the lakes and oceans (I don't quite get it either). It makes as much sense as Umbrella trying to control the zombies to make them more effective weapons, I don't know who in a post apocalypse would really be bothered about buying B.O.W's. Claire Redfield and Albert Wesker get introduced, but they suffer just as Jill and Carlos did. The setting and environments, which worked well for films such as Mad Max, are just completely alien to Resident Evil and it's hard to figure out just what kind of zombie film this is supposed to be. With Alice's superpowers, a world ruined, Umbrella seemingly able to continue their pointless experiments in making weapons for nobody but themselves and Alice clones, the writers seem to have written themselves into a proverbial corner. The film could honestly be renamed to something else and you wouldn't know it was supposed to be Resident Evil. It's not even that it barely resembles the games, it's just a really poor effort of a film with its shoddy story, Michael Bay movie effects and dull characters.
Resident Evil 4 - Afterlife: Seemingly realizing the corner the have painted themselves into, the writers of Afterlife do their best to figure out how to continue the plot thread of Alice's god powers, clones and a world turned to desert. After the prologue of the film, gone are the clones, superpowers and the deserts with cities going back to their original zombie infested selves. In some respects, I like this decision, but it's accomplished so lazily it really shows what a literal zombie this film series has become in that it refuses to stay dead. Anyways, the main story is that after Alice destroys Umbrella, she goes back to travelling by herself and looking for survivors. She goes to Alaska where everybody went in the last film but finding nobody but Claire, they head to Los Angeles and encounter some new survivors in a prison. Zombies soon start to break in, and it's a race to get out of the prison to somewhere safer and take down Umbrella who created these zombies in the first place. The story by now is so unrecognizable that it's hard to imagine that this film series started out with good promise with the first movie. Chris Redfield is the next contestant for pointless obligatory game cameos. Alice finds him in a prison and he's played by Wentsworth Miller, the Prison Break guy. Get it? Wesker plays more of a part but does little other than re-enact the fight scene from the fifth game (complete with the whole throwing sunglasses scene). Strangely enough, I found this film to have the worst CGI yet. It's hard to take these films seriously anymore with how ridiculous this one got. Just stay away from this film. Or rather, watch it once to see what I'm rambling about and never watch it again.
Resident Evil: Pretty decent, give it a watch.
Resident Evil 2 - Apocalypse: Bad story and characters but entertaining to see the Raccoon City incident in live action.
Resident Evil 3 - Extinction: Terrible story and characters with no relation to the games at all.
Resident Evil 4 - Afterlife: The same as Extinction but taken up to 11.
Play the brilliant games instead!