Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter ★★

Very disappointing. I like this series, I like how meta and full of subtext all the PWSA films are and they’re terrifically underrated from a visual standpoint. Except here. This film looks terrible, and is edited atrociously. Now, I give PWSA the benefit of the doubt on most things, since his previous RE films have a lot going on beneath the surface, so for a while here, while incoherent action scene followed incoherent action scene I was postponing judgement, saying to myself “this is going somewhere”. I’m sure defenders of this have already explained in detail that the garbage editing style is a commentary on modern Hollywood blockbusters or that Anderson drapes major scenes in almost pure black to visualise how lacking most big budget films are aesthetically. Well, maybe. But if so then the commentary could have been established via a few scenes rather than a whole film of mostly incoherent trash. The worst thing the editing does is make the pace hyperfast, not allowing for some arresting imagery to get any time on screen. My favourite of this series is Afterlife by far because of how it gives time for images to breathe and becomes pretty aesthetically gorgeous. This is the complete opposite. It was kind of heading this way with Retribution but that held back enough and focused on other themes. Here, it’s like Anderson goes over the edge into a new, futuristic world of unintelligible, anti-intellectual cinema where audiences must simply munch their popcorn and not worry about what’s actually going on. Again, maybe this is the point. If so, fair play, but it doesn’t make the film any more fun to sit through.

There are some good things though. PWSA continues his commentary on Hollywood. The early Fury Road homage with a horde of zombies mindlessly chasing the tank is a clear analogy for how Hollywood naturally steals the newest fad at the snap of its fingers without capturing what made the original good, which Anderson does but in a post-modern, ironic way before anyone else even got the chance. The film also comments on the nature of the sequel; the “my name is Alice” beat being done again becoming a running joke at this point, plus exaggerated villains and reworked backstories. Not to mention the “running and killing” quote, the clone reveal and Alice/Jovovich’s place as a character/actor within an inescapable world of explosions/action/death.

The ending with its excoriation of capitalism, totalitarianism and patriarchy bring the film back to the sort of level the previous two entries were at, plus the editing calms down and finally the film gives our eyes enough time to register the odd great image or two. Unfortunately the first hour is quite terrible, even if PWSA is making other sly observations in the subtext that I’m not catching. Even if there is, it doesn’t make the overall film any more palatable and disappointingly ends the series with a whimper instead of the genre-bending, clever bang it should have been.

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