Thursday, January 26, 2017

I saw Resident Evil's "Final" Chapter...

A mere three weeks have passed since "Underworld'"s possible final chapter hit screens, and now an official ending (or so marketing proclaims) of "Resident Evil" greets us. 

Per "Resident Evil: the Final Chapter", the remnants of our world have been stripped away, but this was already projected in five, gun-blazing crusades, so why should we be so dismayed? Besides, for the sake of comfort, we still have one damn, sexy glimmer of hope...

Milla Jovovich's Alice, the superhot, super soldier, is back and still physically equipped to overcome the Umbrella Corporation's hordes of relentless mutants. 

Her "final" jaunt is written/directed by the man who's been there from the start, Paul W. S. Anderson (Jovovich's hubby, for those in the know). His visual flair and astute guidance has given us a trio of "Death Race" movies, as well as a steampunk version of "The Three Musketeers". Many would say, however, that his style thrives best within the "Resident Evil" universe. His participation is, therefore, welcome, if not essential, for ending the franchise's cinematic run.

Anderson keeps the story, which picks up shortly after "Retribution", fixed within the familiar, with Umbrella honchos, Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) and his various clones; cold-hearted Albert Weskers (Shawn Roberts); and good gal Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) influencing the maddening dilapidation. And let's not forget that cute, little Red Queen (Jovovich's daughter, Ever Gabo), who this time presents a global cure-all. 

Isaacs and Weskers' plans tie to the Queen's, but naturally with an insidious bent, and it all starts (or rather restarts) dead smack at its origin, in good ol' Raccoon City. Isaacs' insidious persistence leaves Redfield and her Mad Maxian companions with little choice but to battle on with Alice: an expected set-up, based on a long established home-video game, with just enough gory plot to succor our interest for a couple hours or thereabout. 

The familiar draping gives continuity to what’s been a tried-and-true saga; however, if “Resident Evil” has ever dimmed its luster (and mind you, the same can be said of “Underworld”), it’s upon turning predictable and therefore, bland. Let's face it, when any saga's patterns reflect too much of what’s come before, the scenarios can't help but feel more retold than further explored. 

What works for the new and "final" film is its dismal foundation: so sizzling, cruel and alien. Still, the question begs, is this concluding landscape as well utilized (i.e., original) as hoped? Sometimes it is, but more often, it's not. 

Though it's hard to pull one's eyes from the fast-paced mayhem, Anderson's adios should've gotten a somber “Army of Darkness” or live-action "Heavy Metal 2000" treatment, but instead we get only hints of what such Hive-spawned possibilities could have been. Yes, there are monsters descending from above and below, and it's anyone's guess what other viral evils lurk behind all that looming sand and rumble. For the most part, it's all insinuation, which wouldn't be so bad if the suspense mounted to its impetuous max. 

There should've be a menagerie of new, improved mutants and tons of lumbering, Lovecraftian hopefuls in this scheme, but rendered in the O'Brien/Harryhausen vein: menacing and fantastic things that beckoned the dinosaur age, but unlike anything that’s ever stomped the earth before. Man, such manifestations would have polished this chapter in ways no one would have expected, giving the series a reverberating blow that may have caused fans to decry, "To hell with no more."

Anyhow, for all of its hindrances, the cap-off is still entertaining, but again, it all comes down to the sultry Jovovich to pull it off. Really, if not for glamour girl Alice and her flexible frame, we might have faced a wry, bullet-holed travel log of despair, with only occasional motorcycle peeling, zombie growls and pounding explosions to keep us in tune. Yes, sir, when it comes to old favorites, our invested interest is what keeps us hanging on, and Alice seizes our devotion (and libidos), even when things sometimes feel tired and dry. 

Still as fans, can we sincerely say we've had enough? Sure, maybe it's time to move on after all that bloody repetition, but if oh-hum Hollywood favors retreads, why not at least pump 'em up? And no matter how the "Final Chapter" ends, anything can be retooled and refueled for the better. In other words, contrary to what some might say, for the sake of "Resident Evil'"s return, there's a most obvious way...

As I mentioned in my “Underworld: Blood Wars” review earlier this month, a meeting between Alice and the bloodsucking Selene would be so supreme. Think of it…defeated zombies piled to the left of the screen, dead Lycans layered to the right, and there in the middle, eyeing each other with lustful intent, our ladies fair and cruel. Will they fight or kiss and make up? Maybe a little of both? Oh, yeah…

Sure, a concept so sensible will likely go overlooked, but if there's a sure-fire formula to keep the mythologies going and guarantee box-office success, it's in a merger: one, in my estimation, long overdue.

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