Sunday, March 26, 2017

In short: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

Our long nightmare is finally over! Well, if you ignore the actual ending of the film that leaves the castle gates wide open for Greeks bringing gifts, direct-to-video sequels, TV shows, or whatever else you can dream up in your nightmares.

Unlike quite a few people, I don’t have any problem with the low-brow nature of the Resident Evil films, their inherent stupidity and their frivolous dumbness. In fact, I remember actually enjoying one of the franchise entries – I believe it was the third one but am much too lazy to look it up and am certainly not going to work through the other films again to find out – and having a bit of fun laughing at some of the others. This purportedly final film however mostly frustrates me. There is so much wasted potential for a fun hundred minutes of post-apocalyptic SF horror action shenanigans, so many ideas that should by all rights be awesome in their own silly ways but never work out being even the tiniest bit entertaining. The problem dragging it all down is franchise director/writer/producer Paul W.S. Anderson when he’s wearing his director’s hat. Despite his bad reputation, I think Anderson started out bright-eyed, talented, and imbued with a lot of love for genre films, making crap movies and some that were nearly very good. Alas, he has become a worse director with every Resident Evil chapter he has inflicted upon us.

This one, he absolutely ruins by overloading nearly every action scene (the final twenty minutes are a bit better, inexplicably) with so many edits, and so many camera positions and shots that for half of the time, you don’t really know what he’s actually trying to show you. To make bad matters worse still, the action in general feels as if it was filmed by an epileptic cameraman while in the throes of an attack. Calling the camera work during the action sequences jittery makes it sound much too calm. If you’re like me and not prone to headaches, you might experience a curious effect – I certainly did – for the camera is so jittery, the editing so fast and random, that there’s really no difference between any of the action scenes at all. Milla Jovovich being chased by zombie horde, Milla Jovovich wrestling with some big grey zombie dude, Milla Jovovich being chased by mutated dogs – it all feels the same, the sort of detail that makes action interesting and exciting to look at is completely lost in Anderson’s fits, until most of the film ends up as a random assortment of flashes and noises up there on the screen, displaying no attempt to connect with the people watching it even on the most basic level. Now that I think about it, it’s a bit of an avantgarde film in that approach.
Too bad it is also an utter failure as the kind of film it is actually supposed to be.

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