There are a lot of people out there that totally and completely hate Paul W.S. Anderson. I’m not entirely offended by him, and in fact I tend to enjoy some of his work, particularly the blood orgy scene from Event Horizon, and most of, if not all, of Soldier (Kurt Russell is fantastic in it).
While not a fan, I enjoyed the first three Resident Evil movies, so It was natural I would seek out the fourth. Its saddens me to report that it lives up to every bit of hate I’ve ever read about Anderson, and left me scratching my head as to what in the fuck they were trying accomplish.
Now let me say this, I am under no delusions about the Resident Evil movies; they are throw away mash-ups of zombie-sci-fi-action, but I enjoy their approach, and there are worse ways to waste a few hours of your life.
They also have a succinct little continuity, where each movie escalates from the previous, the main protagonist getting more and more bad ass with each passing frame. The movies were not without fault, but they didn’t set out to make the video games, I don’t think, and that has helped them along through the series.
Now, with the fourth, they took each mistake from the previous three and amplified them so greatly, that it resembles less a movie and more of an actual video game on screen, with no cohesion, throw away ideas, and little continuity.
What worked: the middle third of the film, when they were trapped in the prison. Just the concept, mind you, not the execution. Complete and utter waste of a set up. More later.
What didn’t work: Everything else. There’s far too much to list, so here’s a few:
– They made a 3D movie instead of a movie. The entire opening sequence was designed for 3D, but it was so stupid and pointless I was damn near offended looking at it. While I didn’t see it in 3D, I got the feeling it would have looked just as cheap and rediculous had I paid the 3D upcharge to watch it, which would have upcharged my anger while sitting in the theater (I watched it at home thankfully). It defied all sense of logic, which is saying something for a series that consistently defies it, and it wasn’t even cool to look at or exciting. At the end of the sequence she (Alice) loses her superpowers through an injection, crashes into the broadside of Mt. Fuji in a helicopter and walks away with a slight limp and a few scratches. What the fuck? Also, the idea of her losing her powers is never again addressed in the movie, and aside from not using psychic powers, she still kicks the ass exactly the same, and has little in the way of actual threats. As the character progressed through the first three movies, she became even more and more distanced from humanity because of the T-Virus, and Jovovich did a good job of showing a progressive angst within her particular situation. Suddenly “human” in the fourth, it’s never even hinted at, let alone addressed, how she feels to be part of something she seemingly longed for previously.
– For a zombie movie, there are very few zombies or zombie attacks.
– The “new” zombies and monsters in the flick do new things – some of them have tentacles that come out of their mouths – but its not explained where they come from, or why they have seemingly evolved. There’s a big sonofabitch that walks through LA carrying a huge damn axe/hammer thing, and while the idea of him is cool, it makes no sense where or how or why he’s there, attacking the prison and the heroes. Also, he takes direct bullets to the head but isn’t phased, but a shotgun full of quarters blows his head off. Seriously.
– Seemingly, the head of Umbrella corporation is killed in a small nuclear explosion, but the movie ends on a “cliffhanger”, where a squad of Umbrella attack helicopters swoop down on our heroes. They are led by Jill Valentine, a good guy from the second movie. How or why she is a bad guy is not explained, except for a red spider or her chest, which leads me too…
– The red spider devices Umbrella now uses to control people. To what purpose? The actual device looks so bootleg and low-rent that it appears to have been created by Big Lots, not Umbrella, which has endless financial resources to create/rule the world. If you had bank like that, why would you make something that looks like this:
– Why would Umbrella need to control people in this fashion, especially for “testing”, when its obviosuly clear that a serum exists to counter the T-Virus. It was used on Alice at the beginning of the movie, fuckers. Duh.
– Is Jill Vallentine now in control of Umbrella?
– Ali Larter’s character Claire Redfield is found in Alaska with one of those spider thingies on her. She attacks Alice, and by all accounts, her appearance is that of someone who has been in the wild for a while. She’s dirty as hell, and looks it. After Alice scoops her up and puts her in the little stunt plane she’s seemingly flying from coast to coast, she magically becomes clean, and Larter’s hair is silky and smooth. Continuity be damned.
– Finally, where in the fuck is Alice getting the gas to fly this little plane? Aside from the fact that she magically transports herself from Japan back to the United States, she literally flies the little plane to Alaska, lands, picks up another passenger, and then traverses the entire western seaboard without once having to fuel. Its a two seater prop-plane, people. Seriously.
– Finally, finally, there are hardly any zombies in their zombie movie. I said it before, I realize, but there are no zombies in the zombie movie.
I could go on and on, but I’ll end it with two points where they really missed some opportunities:
– If they wanted to make an LA version of their zombie franchise, that’s fine. After the opening sequence, I was happy when they got to LA, and then were stuck in this prison. They had a chance to really work the old zombie apocalypse-trapped-in-a-location-thing, but instead they completely throw logic, even their own established logic, out the window, and just wasted the opportunity. If they wanted to make an LA zombie movie, then really make one, and have the heroes traversing all the LA landmarks as they fight off the undead. Especially now that Alice is “human”, it would have been cool to see them fight through all the different “LA things”: Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, the Capitol Records Building, Santa Monica Pier, whatever. They also missed the chance to make a “west coast” zombie movie, having Alice and Claire hitting all the different west coast cities as they searched for gas to keep their piece of shit plane in the air. Actually, I can’t even remember why they went to LA in the first place. The Japan or Tokyo set movie would have been cool too.
– The only character, and actor, that was interesting was Boris Kodjoe as Luther, a famous LA basketball player trapped in the prison. At one point in the movie, its implied he gets killed, but he instead pops up later having survived a fight through the sewers and presumably a shitload of zombies. They really missed out by not showing what was happening to him while in the sewers. A whole host of story telling opportunites were left on the table.
That’s it. I would recommend seeing this movie because its bad. But remember, its bad-bad, not good-bad, even by Resident Evil standards. I would suggest watching it just to mock it. Maybe everyone is right about Anderson.
I leave you with images from the movies, which is probably the best way to watch it, with the sound off.