Beware Underwater Zombies!

It’s hard to believe that there have been five Resident Evil movies. Superman has only had five live-action movies, for crying out loud, and yet this videogame franchise has somehow cranked out five movies over the last ten years.

Why do these movies keep getting made? The answer is pretty simple: money. Each installment makes enough money for the studio to sign off on another one. It’s pretty obvious by this point, since none of the Resident Evil movies even has an actual ending. Every single one of them ends with a massive cliffhanger. But the thing is that most people who see these movies probably don’t see them out of any sense of loyalty to the characters or finding out what happens to them, since most of them are pretty one-dimensional and/or don’t last longer than a single movie.

These movies are about watching hot women in form-fitting outfits kill zombies and various other nasty creatures in creative ways. The cliffhangers promise more crazy action to come, which is why audiences keep showing up.

I’ll admit that I enjoy this. I am a bit ashamed to admit it, it’s true. But damn it, these movies are fun and so I keep seeing them. They are a guilty pleasure of the highest degree. I know that I shouldn’t enjoy these movies. They have pretty much zero artistic value, the acting (such as it is) is mostly terrible and the movies are created almost entirely for profit. And yet, I enjoy them. I just can’t help myself.

Partly it’s because everything about the Resident Evil movies is utterly ludicrous. The video games have a very convoluted backstory, which the filmmakers have (I guess) tried to dilute into some kind of coherent storyline for the movies…or something. Halfway through writing that sentence, I realized how utterly preposterous it was since nothing in the movies really makes much sense if you stop to think about it for more than a couple of seconds. You could drive a truck through the plot holes. Speaking of plot holes, spoilers ahead.

Just listen to the setup of the latest movie, “Resident Evil: Retribution”: our sexy heroine Alice, played as always by Milla Jovovich, has been imprisoned by the evil Umbrella Corporation in a massive underwater facility in the middle of the Antarctic or something. Yes, underwater. (I mean, who builds an underwater base, aside from Cobra Commander? The logistics of underwater-base-construction must be a nightmare, not to mention how hard it would be to find a decent contractor.)

I’m not going to go into how all of this came to be, since explaining the ridiculous plots of the previous four films would take too long and again, none of it makes much sense. If you’re really that interested you can always read the plot synopses on Wikipedia or something. Suffice it to say that the Umbrella Corporation is responsible for creating and unleashing the zombie virus that has overwhelmed the world. They want to capture Alice the sexy heroine because she’s the only one whose DNA ever successfully bonded with the zombie virus, or something.

Anyway, she is now trapped in the aforementioned underwater base. Turns out that the underwater base houses massive reconstructions of parts of various cities, including New York, Tokyo, and Moscow. These city reconstructions were used to, get this, simulate zombie virus outbreaks in the various cities, in order to sell the zombie virus to different world powers! Simulate zombie attack in New York, show it to the Russians, sell them the zombie virus. Simulate zombie attack in Moscow, show it to the Americans, sell them the zombie virus. And so on. (I think this paragraph might have just set a new all-time record for most uses of the phrase “zombie virus” in a single paragraph. Somebody call Guinness!)

So what does this mean, practically? Why, it simply means that you can stage all kinds of crazy action sequences in different locations, even though you’re not…you know…actually there. Does that make sense? Didn’t think so. I’m just trying to say that you can have epic zombattles in places that look like New York, Moscow, and Tokyo without having to make up an excuse to actually go there.

And you’ve no doubt heard of Nazi Zombies? Well how about Commie zombies, or as I like to call them, Zommies? What other kind of zombie would be in Moscow? Once you’ve seen a Zommie firing a machinegun while riding a motorcycle crash into the side of an expensive sports car with spinners on the wheels, you know you’re seeing a movie designed for entertainment and not much else.

Another big part of the appeal of these movies is fan service. Each installment gives the filmmakers another opportunity to bring in more fan favorite characters from the video games. This one brings in Leon S. Kennedy, Barry Burton, and the sexy Ada Wong, since we all know that one sexy heroine is simply not enough. You need at least two sexy heroines per movie, everyone knows that.

The really funny thing is that this movie brings back pretty much every major character who died in the previous four movies, only they’ve all been either (SPOILER ALERT) cloned, kidnapped, or brainwashed. So all of these previously dead characters are back, and two of the main characters from the fourth movie (Chris and Claire Redfield) are nowhere to be found. No explanation whatsoever is given for their absence, although I suppose one could infer that they too were captured by the Umbrella Corporation, although none of the other characters seems to notice their absence either. It’s clearly one of those questions you’re just not supposed to ask.

The series has done this before. Two major characters from the second movie were nowhere to be seen in the third one (one of whom now returns in the fifth movie, brainwashed). My guess is that this is due more to who was available to be in the fifth movie. Maybe Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller were doing other things? Maybe the screenwriter couldn’t think of anything for Chris and Claire to do? Who knows. It just makes the series feel a bit disconnected when characters appear and reappear with little to no explanation given.

But whatever. These movies are about action and Retribution certainly delivers. I thought that the fourth movie felt a bit stale but this one feels a bit fresher. It’s certainly more creative, and it’s less predictable simply because it’s so batshit crazy. The story’s not really there, but the story has never really been there with this series so it’s not much of a surprise. I enjoyed it more than the previous entry. It was fun and I will buy the DVD.

Is Resident Evil: Retribution worthy of the coveted MAN MEDAL? Yes, it most certainly is.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a movie to watch.

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