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A Resident Evil Movie Retrospective

Updated on September 10, 2012

With the release of the new movie Resident Evil: Retribution just four days away, I'm going to take a look back at the previous Resident Evil movies. Hated by many and loved by many, the Resident Evil movies have become a hugely successful, and popular franchise introducing the name to those who have not played the games. Many believe that the movies shouldn't bare the name Resident Evil, and that the movies are a disgrace to the beloved video game series. Others, like myself, were initially unhappy with the direction that first movie was taking, but eventually learned to accept the movies for what they are, action-horror films that take a new, fun spin on the Resident Evil story.

Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil (2002)
Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil (2002) | Source

Resident Evil (2002)

The movie was originally supposed to be written and directed by George A. Romero, but he was fired when Capcom disapproved of his script, instead hiring Paul W.S. Anderson to pen and direction the adaption. As being someone who has actually read Romero's Resident Evil script I am, still to this day, thoroughly disappointed in Capcom for disapproving it. It was a true adaption of the game, and would have been 10X better than what we were given. Capcom believe that Romero's script wouldn't please die-hard fans of the game nor would it appeal to mainstream audiences, when in reality it probably would have done both.

Paul W.S. Anderson's version of Resident Evil was released in theaters on March 15th 2002 and received fairly negative reviews. The movie though became a box office success making a little over its estimated budget, and over 3 times its budget when considering worldwide totals. The movies follows Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, and a group of Umbrella Corporation Special Ops as they try to contain a viral outbreak in an underground Umbrella laboratory. Alice and others must face off against the walking dead, a giant creature called a Licker, and the laboratory's A.I. defense system, known as the Red Queen.

I was initially disappointed in the outcome of the film since it strayed so far from the original game it was supposed to be based off (no returning characters, different mansion, no tyrant, etc.). After the movie hit DVD, and I saw it a second time I was able to accept it as a new venture into the Resident Evil franchise, just like many of the die-hard Resident Evil game fans accept Resident Evil: Survivor and Resident Evil: Outbreak as acceptable side ventures into the franchise. Still to this day I wonder, what could have been if Capcom had accepted Romero's Resident Evil script. I guess we'll never know.

Written and Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Starring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, and Colin Salmon.

Rated R. Runtime: 100 Minutes

Box Office: Domestically - $40.1 Million. WorldWide - $102.4 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 34%

Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil: Apocalypse | Source

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

The sequel to Resident Evil began production shortly after the first movie was released in theaters and deemed a success. Thew new movie, Resident Evil: Apocalypse would borrow elements from the second and third games, and would pick up just minutes after the end of the first film. During pre-production the film was planned to include Jill Valentine, Claire Redfield, William Birkin, and Brad Vickers. Many of those were scrapped and it was announced that Sienna Guillory would played Jill Valentine and Oded Fehr would play Carlos Olivera. The main villain would be none other than Nemesis, which showed that the new film was focuses heavily on the third game for inspiration and not so much on the second. Milla Jovovich would reprise her role as Alice.

The sequel focused on Alice who has escaped the clutches of Umbrella at the Raccoon City Hospital, only to find herself walking down a deserted, war-torn street of Raccoon City. The virus had made its way out of the underground Umbrella facility known as the Hive, and into the streets of Raccoon City. Alice joins up with Jill Valentine, Carlos Olivera, and others as they try to find a way out of the infected city. They cut a deal with someone on the outside, Dr Ashford (a familiar name from Resident Evil Code: Veronica), in which they must find and save his young daughter who has been trapped inside of the city alone. In return he will show them a way to escape the city before it is destroyed. As Alice and the others search for the little girl they are stalked by a massive hulking creature known as Nemesis. After Alice's capture by Umbrella at the end of the movie we are shown that Alice has now become one Umbrella's experimental programs.

Going into this movie I had completely different expectations than I did when I went to see the first Resident Evil. I knew that it wasn't going to be a accurate adaption of either Resident Evil 2 or 3, and that I should just look at it as being a fun romp through a re-visioned Resident Evil world. In my mind I had to separate the world of the video games from the world of the movies. I came out of the movie thoroughly pleased. It was a very exciting and entertaining action-horror flick, and I was glad to see the inclusion of Jill Valentine and Carlos Olivera as well as the relentless creature Nemesis.

Directed by Alexander Witt. Written by Paul W.S. Anderson. Starring Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Mike Epps, Jared Harris, Zach Ward, and Iain Glen.

Rated R. Runtime: 96 Minutes

Box Office: Domestically - $51 Million. Worldwide - $129 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 21%

Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil: Extinction
Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil: Extinction | Source

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

The third movie in the Resident Evil franchise was released on September 21st 2007 to, again, fairly negative reviews. Sienna Guillory was unable to reprise her role as Jill Valentine so instead of recasting the role, Ali Larter was signed on to bring to life the character of Claire Redfield. Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Mike Epps and Iain Glen all returned to reprise their roles for the sequel. Jason O'Mara was brought in to play iconic villain Albert Wesker, who has a fairly minor role in the film. For the second sequel in a row Paul W.S. Anderson returns as the writer of the film but this hands off the directing duties someone else. This time Russell Mulcahy directs.

The movie takes the viewer out of Raccoon City, enlarging the scope from the previous film and showing us that the world has now become overrun with the t-virus, and Umbrella still remains behind everything. Alice is now traveling alone through the desert, hiding from Umbrella. Claire Redfield's group of survivors, including Carlos and L.J. from the previous film, travel across country looking for food and supplies. Alice eventually meets up with the group, saving them from an attack of crows. Alice, Claire and the remainder of the group head towards Las Vegas to resupply before they head off, hoping to make it to Alaska where they believe the infection has not yet reached. Here they are attacked by a trap set by Umbrella, and follow a helicopter which could help them get to Alaska. They arrive at a hidden Umbrella facility, and while the rest of the group takes off in the helicopter, Alice heads inside to fight.

I thought this one was the best out of the three, and the inclusion of a Tyrant at the end of the movie was the cherry on top of the cake. The movie was filled with more action, more zombie killing, more Umbrella conspiracy, Albert-Freaking-Wesker, Alice with super powers, and a ton of Alice clones. Plus you were also treated to a sand covered, abandoned Las Vegas. Resident Evil: Extinction was a great addition to the action-horror film series.

Directed by Russell Mulcahy. Written by Paul W.S. Anderson. Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Oded Fehr, Ashanti, Mike Epps, Spencer Locke, Iain Glen, and Jason O'Mara.

Rated R. Runtime: 94 Minutes

Box Office: Domestically - $50.6 Million. Worldwide - $147 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 22%

Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil: Afterlife
Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil: Afterlife | Source

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

The fourth film in the series is the first Resident Evil film to use 3D. Instead of doing post-conversion 3D like so many films choose to do, Paul W.S. Anderson, getting back into the directors chair, decided that after seeing Avatar he wanted to film the movie in 3D. Anderson uses the same Fusion Camera System that Cameron used to film Avatar for the filming of Resident Evil: Afterlife. Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, and Spencer Locke all reprise their roles from the previous film. The role of Albert Wesker is recast, with the job being given to Shawn Roberts who had initially auditioned for the role of Chris Redfield. That role was given to Wentworth Miller, and although Miller has a much smaller stature than Chirs Redfield from the games, Miller was able to bring the same intensity of the character.

For this fourth film, Anderson used the newly released Resident Evil 5 as inspiration for parts of film, with the main addition being the Axeman, known in the video game as The Executioner. Afterlife follows the events of the previous film with Alice and her army of clones attempting to kill Wesker at his Umbrella facility in Tokyo. 6 months later and Alice is headed toward Alaska in search of the rest of the group from Extinction, following a beacon for Arcadia, the Alaska safe-haven.. She finds the helicopter but its deserted and Alaska looks like a wasteland with no signs of life. She eventually runs into Claire who has some kind of Umbrella control device on her chest. After a short fight, and removal of the device, Alice and Claire head toward the destroyed city of Los Angeles, where they meet up with a group of survivors living inside of a prison. Here Claire is reunited with her brother Chris. The group spots a giant ship in the distance, floating off the coast of L.A., and when the prison is overrun with zombies they make an escape towards the ship. There they find that the ship is not a safe-haven but an Umbrella trap, to capture survivors and use them as test subjects.

Resident Evil: Afterlife delivers one of the best 3D experiences I've had, up there along side Transformers: Dark of the Moon and My Bloody Valentine. The movie features two standout moments of 3D. Once in the beginning showing how the virus reached Tokyo, and another inside the prison when Alice and Claire fight against the Axeman. This Resident Evil movie tops the last, providing plenty of great action, amazing 3D effects, and plenty of fun and entertainment. We get a special after credits treat, showing Sienna Guillory reprising her role as Jill Valentine, with the same Umbrella control device stuck on her that we saw on Claire, leading the attack against Alice and the others on board Arcadia. This scene sets up the events for the next Resident Evil film.

Written and Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts, Boris Kodjoe and Kim Coats.

Rated R. Runtime: 97 Minutes

Box Office: Domestically - $60 Million. Worldwide - $296 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 24%

Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil: Retribution
Theatrical Poster for Resident Evil: Retribution | Source

Resident Evil: Retribution

The new film, Resident Evil: Retribution promises to be larger in scale than the previous films, taking the virus worldwide, while also bringing back many long dead characters from the previous movies, most likely as Umbrella clones. Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr, and Colin Salmon will be reprising their roles as these Umbrella clones. Other returning actors will be Milla Jovovich, Shawn Roberts, Sienna Guillory and Boris Kodjoe. The movie will again be written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson who has chosen to include many more characters from the Resident Evil universe. Johann Urb has been cast as Leon S. Kennedy, Kevin Durand has been cast as Barry Burton, and Li Bingbing has been cast to play Ada Wong. The Axeman villain is making his return, but this time there are two of them. Another villain making its return is the giant Licker, which seems to be larger and more agile than the one from the first Resident Evil movie. Of course Albert Wesker is also back as the main (unless Anderson surprises us with a different main villain and Wesker takes a back seat) villain. Just from the trailers and TV spots you can tell that this movie is going to be huge in every possible way. The movie will be shot in 3D just like its predecessor. I am extremely excited to see this film, and hopefully it will be able to top the previous movie.

Resident Evil: Retribution will be released in theaters on September 14th 2012.


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    • Richard Perazzo profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Perazzo 

      6 years ago from Shirley, NY

      @thefilmguy24 Thanks for reading & commenting! I agree. With all adaptions they have to make it so people who are not familiar with the source material will become interested. As a die-hard fan its sometimes hard to accept the changes. I am super-excited for the new film, which will hopefully be the best out of them all!

    • Thefilmguy24 profile image


      6 years ago

      I've only played the first two and a little bit of the third and none of the others. But I do know the story somewhat from the games and just like you, I was disappointed with the first film not being a true adaptation of the game. After I watched it a second time it did make some sense of why Sony went with the version we have since it helps new people that haven't played the game get familiar with the characters and the story and bringing a new Universe like Nolan's Universe of Batman to change it up a little. I actually liked all of the sequels including Afterlife which I thought was just a gimmick to earn a few extra dollars to film in 3D, but it wasn't all that bad. I'm actually curious for the next installment so I'll more than likely see it. Great hub.

    • Richard Perazzo profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Perazzo 

      6 years ago from Shirley, NY

      @erickmikols Thanks again for reading! They are so different from the games, and sometimes its hard to watch the movies and not wish they were more similar the games. If Romero was able to use his script and direct the first Resident Evil movie I believe that it could have been a masterpiece for the horror genre. Too bad we'll never actually know.

    • Eric Mikols profile image

      Eric Mikols 

      6 years ago from New England

      I stopped watching this series after the second film, but now I'm planning a marathon to catch up. It's fascinating how different this series is from the games, but how far the movies have gone. Plus, the first movie was my first zombie film, so that means something. Fun read and I had no idea Romero was going to direct the first! What a different film that would have been!

      Nice Hub!


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