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Flat and emotionless but flashy.
on 13 April 2013
Since number 4, this series has skewed far more heavily in favour of flashy gunfights with nefarious Umbrella employees and occasional encounters with giant monsters, and paid far less attention to zombies. Admittedly, the first three movies weren't exactly rich examples of emotional depth, but they at least tried to give us enduring characters that had more rounded personalities, and to show the effect of the apocalypse on human behaviour (the scientist only concerned about his daughter in number 2, and the twisted robbers at the beginning of number 3). Unfortunately, what we get with number 5 is Umbrella, Umbrella Umbrella. Oh, and they've got a few giant zombies as toys.
The writers have tried to freshen things up by throwing in an entertaining reason to bring back some favourite faces. Likewise the new setting can be viewed as either a cynical cheap excuse to have several different environments (or 'levels' like a game)to liven up the movie, or as a fun and inventive environment.
Unfortunately the all-pervading familiarity lessens the tension. The plot is so flimsy that no-one ever actually tries to justify it at all (it amounts to - 'we're in here, let's get out'), the supporting characters make paper look thick and well defined, and the appalling 'Matrix' copy character Wesker is back.
I think we've seen enough characters flipping over each other in slo-mo and enough fights without meaningful consequences in this series to last a lifetime. In the penultimate scenes in fact, even the characters themselves seems to be surprisingly laid back about what should be a tense situation. Tellingly the moments in this film that work the best are the scenes with Jovovitch as a normal suburban mum, and later scenes that essentially steal the emotional-bonding plot from 'Aliens'. The series needs some of the emotion put back into it to stop the feeling that it's just empty pointless calories, like eating candy floss but having nothing satisfying left in you afterwards, and the film's "let's make it BIGGER!!!" climax just reeks of escalation that can only take the series even further away from concentrating on character and even closer to: "Look! More guns! Another 30,000 zombies! More Mayhem!"
Resident Evil is becoming a series that apes the creatures it wants us to destroy. After all, what are its zombies but never-ending out of control monsters lacking a soul?