So in the last couple days I've caught up with the Resident Evil series by watching Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction. I have to say, I was surprisingly pleased with both. I skipped re-watching the first Resident Evil movie, just because I'd already seen it, however long ago that came out. I would turn out to regret that decision. It's not that I think the later movies would have benefit so much from a recent viewing of the original; I just think it would have been an overall more fun experience. Because that's what these movies were: fun.
I honestly don't remember much about the first movie, except that I somewhat enjoyed it. The second installment in the series, Apocalypse, is, as they say, action-packed. And I mean that. It was. Action. Packed. I guess I was given a clue when the movie first started rolling and the "Rated R" screen came up. It began, and I quote, "For nonstop violence." Whatever, CARA, what you call nonstop violence, I call nonstop excitement. This worked both for and against the movie, in a way. On the plus side, it dropped you right into the idea that this was not a movie to be watched for narrative. This was a movie to be watched for action. On the minus side, you were given very little time to prepare for this idea; things start off very rapidly and leave no time for absorption. At first I thought this was going to be another sloppily edited nightmare that would make the plot unreasonably difficult to follow. Now, having seen the whole film, I'd rather like to think that it was a conscious choice to pace things that way because, well...the plot wasn't that important.
What was important, and I can't stress this enough, was action. Very few and far between were the characters who were not combat-capable. There was maybe, like...a reporter? But what made this movie shine in the action department was that pretty much everybody kicked ass. Also the lead ass-kickers were women, which I always personally enjoy. The unquestioned head of the ass-kicking department, though, was clearly the leading role of Alice who, thanks to her genetic engineering corporate overlords, achieved an overwhelming and superhuman level of badassery. I was misdirected about this at first, as we are introduced to Alice in a weakened state as she has just stumbled her way out of a hospital-like research facility and is wandering the streets of the ruined Raccoon City with nothing but a hospital gown and a shotgun looted from an abandoned police cruiser.
Soon enough, however, as a separate group of protagonists is being circled by horrible mutant creatures, Alice appears on the scene thusly: she jumps a motorcycle through a stained-glass church window, U-turns, guns the bike, and backflips off the seat, causing the motorcyce to ram the bad guy. Then she pulls out two handguns and shoots the motorcycle so it explodes. Keep in mind that this is Alice's first action scene in the film. This, friends, is who I want spearheading my action movie. Thank you, Milla Jovovich, for making me feel so good inside.
At any rate, things continued much in the vein for quite some time. Not only was the action nonstop, but I was actually happy with it. All-in-all, I give this movie two thumbs up just for doing one thing well: it was an awesome action flick. It was everything pure that I want in an action movie: lots of gunplay and wire-fu, explosions, good guys and bad guys, more action than gore, and no sex. Who could ask for more?
I was so pleased with this film, by the way, that it caused me to induct Milla Jovovich into my own personal pantheon of Awesome Action Stars. This is particularly momentous, by the way, because if memory serves, I believe she is the first woman to be so honored. This movie, then, accomplished what Ultraviolet couldn't. This movie...is the action role Milla Jovovich was supposed to play.
Two other items of note for this film: One is Oded Fehr as Carlos, the de facto leader of a group of renegade soldiers fighting on the side of good. You may know him better as Antione, the wildly successful gigolo in Deuce Bigalow. (Also as that guy in The Mummy.) I have to say, he looks totally different without his beard. To be honest, I didn't even know it was him until the next movie, in which I only started to recognize his voice (and a little bit of mannerism). The other notable item was that one of the soldiers in Carlos's squad was...wait for it...the vampire Billy the Kid from that second BloodRayne movie. :) Heh...small video game movie world. (I was thinking of trying to track that stuff. Like...I know Michelle Rodriguez was in both the first Resident Evil and BloodRayne movies, so now it turns out that Zack Ward was in the second Resident Evil and the second BloodRayne. Funny, but ultimately...I dunno. A lot of work with no payoff? Still...interesting to note.) (P.S. and, yes, they had different directors.)
Aaaaaanyway. So that movie rocked.
Next up was the third in the series, Resident Evil: Extinction, which is set in a very Road Warrior kind of world after the virus responsible for all the trouble in the previous movies has somehow...uh...almost destroyed the Earth? I admit it there was quite a leap between storylines of the second movie and the third, and I did strain my finger a bit, as it were, pressing the button, but I did manage to get it pressed for that one major leap, and after that, everything was okay. (Just press it. Believe me, it'll be worth it just to see the post-apocalyptic ruins of Las Vegas.) Besides Alice, a couple of the other characters from the second movie live on in the third, so that was kind of nice to see. Also nice to see is that Alice is still fucking badass. She's presented a little differently this time around; much more solitary and ronin. For the entire first half of the movie, I think she had like two lines of dialogue. Also she seems slightly less action-packed. Perhaps she has slightly less going on in the fight scene department. But this is more than made up for by the fact that she can now kill you with her mind. Serious, man...there is some cracked-out shit going on in these movies.
That said, I found Extinction to be very satisfying. It's not nearly the action film that Apocalypse was, but it's hard to pull off what Apocalypse pulled off in less than an urban setting. Extinction did quite well as a post-apocalypse movie (haha -- get it? Post-Apocalypse?), with more attention paid to the peculiarities of that setting (one major motivator for people is the scarcity of resources), and there was much more in the way of scenery. Like...in Apocalypse, it was all talk and gunplay. It didn't really matter where you were; it was just going to get blown up anyway. In Extinction, there was a lot more desert, a lot more space...and a lot more wide, panning camerawork. The theme of both movies was about the same, but you could really feel the difference in settings. I think all around, a fine job was done. Both pure action and post-apocalyptic are movie types that appeal to me, so it's really hard for me to say which I liked better. Needless to say, I'm quite pleased with this series.
I've decided it was enough of a mistake not to rewatch the first movie that I'm going to queue it up again, really just to see if it's anywhere near as fun as these two, because I really don't remember it being so. Also I've found there's another movie in this series, an animated feature. Just because, I'm going to queue up that mother, too. But I really felt that the series should have ended where it did with the third movie, so we'll see what this animated jobby has to say.
And that, as they say, is that. Smell ya later, everybody!