Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 3 February 2017
Category: Reviews Comments View Comments


Alice has one last chance to destroy the Umbrella Corporation and save the world's few remaining humans in what is a satisfying, but technically very flawed, final film in the long running action-horror film series Resident Evil.

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final ChapterThe final film in the Resident Evil franchise goes back to its roots due to protagonist Alice (Milla Jovovich) being coerced into returning to Raccoon City and the Umbrella Corporation's underground facility The Hive, where the story first began in Resident Evil, which was released in 2002.

Besides sending Alice back to The Hive this film returns to its origins by bringing zombies to the forefront again, which I really enjoyed as some of the previous films have treated them as an afterthought. I question why the zombies haven't been desiccated to immobile dried husks by 10 years of post-apocalyptic sunlight but that sits in the pile of plot holes not worth questioning (and there are many).

As in the previous movies familiar characters pop up in various places as old antagonists return to try and stop Alice's plans and friends offer her assistance in her quest but there are also new characters, played by actors such as Ruby Rose, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, Rola, Lee Joon-Gi, and William Levy, to add some variety and diversity to the cast.

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Unfortunately we also have Shawn Roberts, back as Albert Wesker, channeling his cringeworthy version of Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith from The Matrix but that is at least partly counter balanced by Ali Larter's Claire Redfield. Larter is in fine form, although under utilised, as Redfield is an integral support character who deserves to have more to do.

Jovovich, meanwhile, continues to do great work as Alice and is a worthy action star. She's been playing this character for 15 years across six films, slowly adding more grit and determination but without losing the character's core humanity, and although many actors would be phoning it in by this point she still puts an incredible amount of effort into the role.

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Above: Two views of the unfinished elevated freeway in Cape Town.
Much of the movie is filmed in Cape Town (as well as Hartbeespoort) but you wouldn't know it as there are no discernible landmarks to spot bar the unfinished elevated freeway, which (unsurprisingly) makes an appearance in one scene. Therefore, as what I presume is a film-makers' nod to the location, the city does feature iconically in the beginning of the movie during new exposition that details a bit more about the origins of the T-virus. Cape Town has the unenviable honour of being the location of the first outbreak and, consequently, you'll never look at one of its landmarks the same way again.

The scene was fantastic.

Sadly it was downhill after that.

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter doesn't follow on well from the previous film, Resident Evil: Retribution. There's an unexplained leap of time and circumstance, which apparently is fleshed out in the novelisation, that results in expected characters - and monsters - being absent but, as a tradeoff, we do see the return of other characters from the film franchise. However there isn't quite as much fan service in this one as there was in Resident Evil: Retribution, which was one of its primary positive attributes (others being well choreographed fight scenes, great production design, and how much the movie felt like an action video game - of course, a movie shouldn't feel like a video game but if you're going to make your movie feel like a video game then go all out and do it properly, which I think Resident Evil: Retribution accomplished).

As with most of the rest of the movies in the series Resident Evil: The Final Chapter has very little plot, and what plot there is is full of unfathomable leaps of logic, non sequiturs, and holes so big you could ride a platform elevator through them (repeatedly) but it doesn't really matter. These movies are about the action. Unfortunately, it doesn't deliver to the quality of some of the other films.

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

A few of the action scenes are quite fun - as a concept - but they are generally ruined by the dark lighting and terrible editing, which is very different to the other films in the series and was, unfortunately, a stylistic choice by writer/director Paul WS Anderson. The editing, by Doobie White, whose résumé comprises mainly film shorts and commercials, is headache inducingly swift in these moments with constant cuts that are a fraction of a second long. You cannot focus on anything that is going on. As most of the action scenes take place either at night or in dimly lit interior environments, and the movie is in 3D, which also darkens everything further, I found it incredibly difficult to see what was happening and, in some cases, who - or what - had died.

The film was originally shot in 2D using Anderson's 3D crew so the team would intentionally frame shots for the 3D conversion. The reason for doing it this way was stylistic - because 3D cameras are big they limit what can be filmed and Anderson wanted this film to use a lot of handheld cameras, be gritty, and have no slow motion and the only way to do that was with 2D cameras and a conversion to 3D in post production.

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Unfortunately it doesn't work. Before I had discovered that there was a stylistic decision for this I was already intending to suggest that people watch this movie in 2D, if they can, and perhaps even on a TV rather than a cinema screen as a larger screen just amplifies all the problems. This movie, as the final film in the franchise, deserves to have its action sequences as the centrepieces and worthy or being enjoyed in a massive screen and instead they're a mess. (As an aside, there's a thread on IMDb about a petition to have the film re-edited. This will never happen but I fully agree that it should.)

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

An additional problem is the heavy colouring stylisation in teal and orange, which remains the scourge of modern filmmaking. I liked Resident Evil: Retribution's bright, colourful palette and Resident Evil: Extinction's stark palette (that relied on orange but generally avoided the teal), each of which was perfect for the respective movie's environment and plot, but the colour grading of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter looks terrible and this, combined with the darkness, really does a disservice to the work of the production designers. In fact, I had to lighten up some of the stills illustrating this review just so that the details would be clearer.

Plot holes aside the film does answer a number of questions and brings the story back to where it all began in a reasonably satisfying way, although you'll see at least one key plot bombshell coming a mile away as the film doesn't try very hard to disguise it. For the first time in years we also don't have a cliff-hanger ending, although the absolute final scene of the movie suddenly adds just enough leeway for the studio to make another film if it really wants to - and I think it will - which was a bit of an anti climax.

While it's not the best movie in the Resident Evil franchise, and certainly not a good movie, I was entertained. This is action porn and the previous films have taught me not to expect more depth than that - but on a technical level I did expect better.

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Rating


Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is written and directed by Paul WS Anderson and stars Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, Rola, Lee Joon-Gi, William Levy, and Iain Glen.

The review screening was courtesy of Ster-Kinekor Entertainment.

Tags: #cape_town, #horror, #screen, #speculative_fiction, #zombies

Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

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