6 Reasons 'Resident Evil' Movies Are Better than the Games
Gamers are naturally suspicious of Hollywood, which processes source material with all the care of a digestive system. And with similar results. But the Resident Evil movies are the most successful video game movie series ever made, four films earning almost half a billion dollars. Remember that the next time you hear about education funding being cut, because the facts are probably related.
Kicking an infected zombie is an exactly equal mix of badass and dumbass.
Some gamers complain about the movies, which is proof that some gamers can whine about anything, even a company spending hundreds of millions of dollars hiring a supermodel to act out their most ridiculous fantasies. But I love the movies and have six reasons why those complaints are invalid.
Resident Evil Isn't Allowed to Criticize Movies
In 1996, the Resident Evil games and their fans surrendered any right to criticize any moving image with the worst intro movie ever made:
Back then, people were still excited about full-motion video, and you'd swear that Resident Evil was trying to warn them that it would never get better. If you didn't watch that clip, I'm not going to ruin the blissful ignorance you've wisely earned. But let's just say that people have looked tougher than this grizzled action hero while losing on Cake Wars.
The Movies Don't Waste (as Much) Time
Fans of the game have complained that the movies are lowbrow, and yes, they are clinically incapable of going five minutes without doing something awesomely stupid. But at least they're doing something. The games use more padding to keep people stuck than Arkham Asylum, and the contents make less sense. Most of the games are one part zombies to 20 parts fetch quest. Resident Evil 2 has you placing a unicorn medal in the police station foyer fountain statue so it can pour you a key. The quests have less than no explanation. Legend has it that encyclopedias get one page shorter with every sequel.
Code: Veronica has you find a player piano roll in a surgical torture dungeon to unlock the death camp's casino's slot machine to get an ant statue to activate a music box to trigger the secret bed-ladder to a carousel. You haven't gone aphasic, Capcom just randomly picked words from a dictionary instead of writing them. And we obeyed their instructions and convinced ourselves that we enjoyed it. This wasn't a game; it was a brainwashing program.
The result is trawling endless narrow corridors full of undead and picking up anything you find because those are the only paths you can follow. So basically, Pac-Man. At one point you have a square crank but need an octagon crank, so you use a metalworking machine to cut it down to size, and then you're told you need a square crank again, and have to find an octagon-to-square crank converter to proceed.
Video games can be worlds of limitless imagination. The Resident Evil games make you reuse crank handles.
The problem is that the games are enormously popular. Three million people wasted two hours of their free time trying to figure out how to reuse crank handles. Six million man-hours. That game effectively killed 10 people. The other time-padding reverse intelligence tests were the ridiculous puzzles, most of which you solved by very gradually clicking buttons to see what they did to arrive at a solution. Imagine your grandmother pecking out an email about the gold standard, but less fun.
On par with Battletoads' jet bike level.
The Games Have a Worse Plot
The first and stupidest complaint that gamers have about the movies is that they don't follow the plot of the games. Of course they don't! The movies aren't nine hours long, and even if they were, eight hours of watching people slowly fetch pointless objects while avoiding shambling bodies isn't cinema, it's a shift at Walmart. The plot of the first Resident Evil game kicks off with the only special forces team in the entire world that doesn't know how to break down locked doors. From there, the stories only got dumber. Gordon Freeman could complete the entire series in about half an hour.
Hollywood, we're mentioning Half-Life in an article about video game movies for a reason. Take the hint AND OUR MONEY.
The plot of the first game had three secret Umbrella Corporation labs close enough to steal each other's Wi-Fi but utterly unaware of each other's existence. It depends on one character forgetting that she blew up a secret virus lab on the way to another virus lab. In fact, the plot of the original games got so stupid that even the games dumped most of it, restarting in Resident Evil 4. But not before Resident Evil 0 gave us a dead scientist empowered by singing opera to leeches.
And apparently on loan from Final Fantasy.
Resident Evil 2 is regarded as the best of the early games, and a breakthrough in survival horror, and the main villain's only powers are giant weak points and impregnating his own daughter.
A giant eye, and an exposed heart, and both are pulsing red? The laws of nature and video games want this thing dead.
That thing's backstory is that Umbrella scientist William Birkin knowingly injected himself with a virus that gave him a giant eye to see what he was doing, tentacles and a biological compulsion to implant embryos in his 12-year-old child. That's not a boss fight so much as a game designer practicing his insanity plea.
Yes, that detached tentacle is bleeding while crawling away from her crotch. No, we won't find a better quality image.
This crime against pretty much everything doesn't happen in a psychological horror "it's meant to be disturbing" way. It happens while you're busy collecting keys, blowing up a giant alligator and generally playing a game you thought wasn't made by sex offenders. You spend the rest of the game searching for a mutant morning after pill. WARNING: That was not a joke.
The game's other villain is a murderous rapist police chief who was murdered by being raped by the murderous rapist mutant. Somewhere there's a correctional facility holding the wrong man, desperately trying to explain that he really is a Capcom writer. And remember, this isn't a weird spinoff, this is the primary plot that commenters complain wasn't shown in the cinema. Which is probably why Capcom kept making sequels: It's a cheaper way to keep them off the streets than jail.
The Movies Have a Better Primary Character
Another complaint is how the movies star a brand new character, Alice.
Clearly not equipped to star in a zombie action movie.
First, if you're complaining about the addition of Milla Jovovich to anything, up to and including "the team of detonation experts defusing a bomb implanted in my skull," I will never understand you. Second, anyone who likes the Resident Evil games but accuses people of bad acting should paradox out of existence instead of posting on the Internet.
Third, movies need a central character. The games can hop around like an STD on Jersey Shore, multiplying with stupid people who don't know how to protect themselves against viruses. You've got Chris Redfield, the world's worst special forces soldier, who led his own sister into two separate zombie deathtraps because he couldn't be bothered to use a phone.
He's also the result of an Umbrella experiment to cross watermelons with the human bicep.
There's Jill Valentine, master of unlocking and overused jokes, whose idea of preparing for a zombie holocaust is exposing as much flesh as possible.
By this logic, she'd wear a tube top to the moon.
Not that the Resident Evil games have trouble with cliches and respecting female characters, but when they brainwashed her as an obedient servant in RE5, the process physically turned her blonde.
You've got Leon S. Kennedy, a character so unlikable that even when investigating the president's kidnapped daughter, the Secret Service sent him on his own. I'm not saying it's hard to take Mr. Emohair seriously as a badass, but he has his own fashion clothing line.
"Losing vision in one eye helps with fashion shooting, not so much with actual shooting."
Claire Redfield's plan for finding her missing brother was:
1) Stumble through a zombified city in America
2) Immediately break into a heavily armed Umbrella facility in Paris
3) Get sent to a virus-infected death camp in the South Pacific
4) Then, and only then, try email. This works.
"Me not good at plan."
Rebecca Chambers is the world's most annoying medic. You'd rather succumb to T-virus infection than spend enough time with her to be treated.
Alternate costumes designed by the same guy who wrote William Birkin.
And most of them turn up in the movies anyway. Even Barry "Useless Beard" Burton is set to arrive in the new movie, and starring in Resident Evil Gaiden should have erased him from existence.
The movies even share the "screw it" motivation for Jill's clothing.
No Files in the Movies
The movies are permanently better because NO FILES. Ten percent of the game plot was delivered by the worst voice actors reading the worst writing in the world, and for the other 90 percent, they couldn't afford voice actors. The intro cinematic had already ruined movies, so the game went after reading. It was trying to win by destroying everything else in the world with exposure to its evil. Which is Umbrella Corporation's actual corporate strategy.
I could have been playing Deus Ex. I was a moron in 2000.
The Movies Have a Better Sequel Strategy
At last count, the games had nine different kinds of virus and parasite. It's like they got confused about whether people were playing because they liked to shoot zombies or because they were interested in virologist fan fiction. Since any one of the viruses in the game can apparently do anything, it's more pointless replication of terrible things than the Kardashian family. The movies streamlined the virus count to just two, T-virus and the antivirus, both of which created monsters ... which logically should mean that everything in the world becomes a monster. And in the only case of a video game movie using logic, that's exactly what happens.
In the game, the huge, villainous Umbrella Corporation is destroyed off camera between games by the villains, ensuring that the heroes achieved nothing. Umbrella is then immediately replaced by the identical Tricell corporation, just to remind players that they're wasting their time. Bizarrely, the movies are better at rebooting between levels than the computer games. The movies approach sequels like tank combat: The old one blows up, so you make the new one bigger and even more awesome. They haven't had to retcon because anything that could have complicated the story is blatantly blown up at the start of the next movie, even if it's the entire world, the cliffhanger they'd promised in the previous movie, a hundred clones of the main character, or all three.
And it's still less stupid than how Agent Smith lost.
The movies are incredibly, hilariously, defiantly stupid, but they work. Each Resident Evil movie makes more money than the one before, which is exactly the kind of exponential profit from disasters the Umbrella Corporation would have been going for all this time. The movies get terrible reviews but are a huge amount of fun. And I think that now, together, we've grown enough to admit that the games were the exact opposite.
If you want to watch Luke writhe in agony, he sets his own face on fire in the Chili Pepper Experiment. He also looks at The 5 Worst Monsters in Resident Evil and learns 4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Video Games.