Keeping it Reel : 85 reasons why the Resident Evil franchise sucked

The Resident Evil film franchise is finally over and I for one couldn’t be happier. I really like the first one and it was one of the first films that I ever went to see twice at the cinema. I remember specifically going into the cinema in Lincoln and asking for a ticket months in advance, and even though they couldn’t sell tickets, I was there on the opening showing on the first day, and I loved it. Even now I think that this stands separate from the rest of the series, and can be viewed as a semi-decent zombie film on its own merits.

However, whilst the first was generally very good, in my opinion of course, the sequels were not so lucky. Gradually getting worse as the series went on, fans kept going in the hope that they would get better, and whilst I’m not going to share my opinions on the sixth film until the end of the year (I can’t criticise it whilst it’s still showing at the chain that I work for legal reasons), it isn’t going to stop me posting this list.

So this is what I hope will become a new feature on this site, the “Reasons” section. In this I will look at reasons as to why something worked, or didn’t work, so to open it up I’m going to start with 85 reasons that the “Resident Evil” franchise sucked overall. This ranges from general observations to plot holes.

Please note that these are not sorted into any form of order.

1) Despite being constantly in danger of death, Alice somehow always found time in between films to change her hair style and colour. Obviously over the space of ten years in-film time I appreciate she’d need to cut her hair every now and then, but is style and colour realistically something that the character would be concerned by?

2) Making the character of Alice have what are effectively super-powers for a significant portion of the franchise made her completely uncompelling. If you know that it’s exceptionally unlikely that she’s going to die, it takes any real tension out of any scene.

3) In their defence, the first two films do try to stick to the horror genre somewhat, but come the third film they’re basically action films. The Resident Evil franchise isn’t supposed to be action it’s supposed to be horror.

4) The first film faced a lot of criticism for the very few references to the games, so the next few films over-compensated by bringing characters from the games into the film. Whilst noble, none of the characters were really anything like their computer game counterparts, especially arguably the two lead characters of the games series, Chris and Leon. Whilst the latter character has an interesting relationship with Ada in the games, it just isn’t reflected at all in the movie.

5) Speaking of Ada, she is one of the most intriguing characters in the games due to her less than willing way to reveal the complete truth in various situations, but in the fifth film (the only one she features in) she isn’t the anti-hero from the games, she is just a generic secret agent that could be taken out and there would be no impact to the story at all.

6) Speaking of characters from the games, Jill Valentine is the primary protagonist of the first and third games, and also the secondary one in the second film. To be fair to the filmmakers they do make her look exactly how she looked in the games, but how does a suspended police officer (even if all off duty police officers are called in) get away with entering the station and just opening fire on people that she views as hostile, and not only that, shooting them fatally?

7) Anyway, time to try and establish some order in this process and now look at the films in some form of relative order. In the first movie there is an excellent scene with a corridor of lasers, arguably the most famous scene in the franchise. They tried to replicate that by bringing that corridor of lasers back for several of the sequels, but the issue is that unlike the first, there was no suspense or genuine intention to be anything more than a feeling of “going back to the well”. This reappears in the third and sixth films, and an alternate version in the fifth.

8) Shortly after that scene is an odd one in which the AI system knows that they’re about to unleash an EMP to shut her down and she warns them not to do it, all before taunting them with “you’re all going to die down here”. The system has one point at this stage, to stop the spread of the infection, so wouldn’t it make sense for it to warn the soldiers what turning the system off would actually do (release all of the undead)? By not telling them the system is risking the infection getting out.

9) One of the reasons that I like the first film is that in amongst the gore, it takes its time to develop some of the other characters, and especially the sisters-style relationship with Alice and Rain, but there’s none of that as the series goes on. For example, in the final film Alice asks a character how they learned to change a mechanical device, and ten seconds later you’d heard the only development that character is given, and yet when that character dies towards the end of the film, it acts like you’re supposed to have an emotional attachment to that character.

10) The less than subtle nature of the Alice in Wonderland references in the first film. The lead is called Alice, the virus is tested on a white rabbit the villain is called the Red Queen, they have to walk through a mirror (aka a looking glass) to get into the hive.

11) At the beginning of the first film Alice is shown to have a large scar on her shoulder that stretches several inches. She stands in front of a mirror (whilst her memory is still absent) and is curious about it herself. We never discover where the scar came from.

12) Not only do we not discover where the scar came from, it has completely disappeared in later films, with the exception of one scene in the sixth film.

13) In the first film, the very opening scene infact, a woman decides that because the gap in-between two elevator doors is just big enough for her head and one arm to fit through, her entire body will be able to squeeze through. She subsequently gets her head stuck and I’m sure you can all guess what happens next.

14) A major plot point is the memory loss of Alice and Spence. Whilst Alice gradually gains her memory back over time, Spence is completely oblivious up until the perfect moment for the plot.

15) One of the memories that Alice does get back rather quickly is that she entered into a plot with someone who wants to bring the company down from the inside. She then reveals this to the character of Matt at the first opportunity because it turns out that the woman was his sister.

16) She decides to do this without having any other memories, and is surprised that Matt would want to have his questions answered.

17) In the first film the licker mutates shortly after feeding on flesh, but the same doesn’t happen in the second film.

18) The speed of the undead changes throughout the films. In the first film they are quite slow, and yet in the sixth film, set ten years after the first and therefore a lot of decomposition time later, they are full on sprinting. The undead won’t get faster as their body parts decompose.

19) Speaking of decomposed bodies, the second film shows that several people that have been long dead somehow gain the strength to burst through their coffin and six feet of dirt with ease.

20) Not only that, but the second film also sees the first of many contradictions around the virus throughout the franchise. The one in this film is that not only are the dead coming out of the ground, but it would take a long time for the virus to seep down six feet to get to them, but this would be completely irrelevant as it is stated in the first film that the body has to be relatively fresh and have even the slightest amount of neural activity, which usually dissipates after several weeks. Most of the bodies that come out of the ground have clearly been buried for much longer than that.

21) Umbrella managed to set up the wall surrounding the city in the space of a few hours after the events of the first film, yet no-one seems worried that an agency has come out of nowhere and is starting to barricade them all in.

22) This is made even odder by the fact that the zombie apocalypse is clearly going on whilst they’re doing it because there is a newspaper report shown. There has been enough time for Umbrella to build a wall and a newspaper report on the dead coming back to life and eating people, get it approved, published and distributed, before people seem to try and escape the city.

23) Umbrella also sent several operatives in to help control the situation, which isn’t unusual, but what is that the character of Yuri got bitten on the right arm, but limping heavily on his left leg.

24) When Nemesis is given his first thing to do on screen, it’s to kill twelve members of the S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad). The person who unleashes the Nemesis literally says “they’re the best” and a minute later every single S.T.A.R.S member in the building is dead. What was the point?

25) Also, is it really a “Special Tactic” to all stand in a perfect straight line aiming at the big creature walking towards you? They can’t be that special if the make this glaring error.

26) A reasonable fraction of the film is spent in a church, a building that Alice enters by crashing a motorbike through a window. How did she get the bike through that window when exteriors of the church clearly show no ramps?

27) The third film is set in a desolate desert environment in which water seems a rarity, yet no-one seems dehydrated and everyone can afford regular showers (you can tell because everyone is clean).

28) In relation to the desert environment, the film clearly establishes most vegetation around the planet has died as a result of the virus, with many areas being reclaimed by the desert, but this issue doesn’t seem to carry over to the later films as pretty much each area has returned to “normal”.

29) One of the characters reveals that she never liked her original name and so instead chose her new name after where the rest of the crew found her, a K-Mart store. Ok, you don’t like your old name, you can change it to anything you want, but you just change it to a nickname of a store. Why go through that effort?

30) The only sniper will climb to a decent position above the battlefield, but also happens to choose arguably the only place that he wouldn’t be able to escape from if someone started climbing up. Guess what happened.

31) It turns out that Umbrella have created several clones of Alice and they are to be discarded once they are killed in several environments. There are around fifty Alices that are shown on screen in the ditch of dead-clones, not only has every one of them seemingly died on the exact same way (bullets from the flying turret), but not a single one has started to decompose.

32) In the final battle of humans vs zombies in the third movie, Alice gets “turned off” (for lack of better words) by Umbrella because they want to use her for data analysis, but stopping her dead in the middle of a battle with zombies means that they risk getting her body back after it’s been bitten several times by zombies, which could contaminate their results.

33) Magically disappearing characters. A character is a prominent part of one film, but is then never seen again. One such example is Chris in the fourth film. He plays a pretty big role, but is then not heard of again. Even at the end of the sixth film I have no idea whether he was alive because he is barely even mentioned in the final two film.

34) The third film ends with Alice having an army of clones, but those clones are killed off within minutes of the opening of the fourth film.

35) Then again, that’s not the strangest thing about the ending to the third film. The survivors are able to escape on a helicopter that can handle six people without an issue, yet there are significantly more than that who are escape on it at once.

36) Arguably the biggest “fuck you” to fans however was the Nemesis character in the second film. Nemesis in the game “Resident Evil 3 : Nemesis” is a seemingly unstoppable machine that will stop at nothing to get to you, but the film shows that with just a few memories of his former self, he will turn into a good guy and help the protagonists.

37) That’s not to say that the fourth film isn’t innocent in that regard. The enemy known as “The Executioner” is your first mini-boss in the fifth Resident Evil game and is a genuine challenge. He’s a towering bulk that moves quickly and menacingly. He is randomly implanted as a nameless antagonist in the fourth film but is nowhere near as intimidating as his computer game counterpart. He spends a portion of his screen time trying to break down the game, but instead of hitting it with any real force, he gently taps it….and yet it somehow causes the gate to come off of its hinges after a few hits.

38) He then battles Alice and Claire in the shower room in the prison and is taken out relatively simply after causing significant damage the environment, but none to either of the aforementioned characters.

39) The main characters then escape through tunnels that were dug by the undead. Yep, not only should they be long decomposed after however many years have gone by, but now they’re able to dig through the ground and up through a solid floor.

40) What makes that even more ridiculous is that the hole isn’t even subtle, and yet none of the characters notice it in the relatively small room that they’re all in at some point.

41) Their destination once they escape is a ship just off of the coast, but when they look at it through their binoculars there is no sign of life on a ship that is offering sanctuary from the infection. Strangely this doesn’t ring any alarm bells in their heads.

42) The opening scene involving Alice in the fourth film is all of her clones invading an Umbrella facility. Whilst on the face of it she has a lot of enemies to beat, the soldiers that she faces are awful and show no tactical awareness whatsoever. They can’t shoot in a straight line (only Wesker actually hits a clone with any bullets) and not once do they try and take cover.

43) The clones also have piercing holes in their ears. If they’re DNA replicas, they wouldn’t have piercing holes as they weren’t part of the original DNA. A quick brush up in post production would have sorted that out.


44) Alice starts the fourth film off with having her mutated cells returned to normal, and yet she is able to walk away from a helicopter crash without a scratch.

45) Having that said, her survival is no more miraculous than the characters that free fall about twenty storeys down an elevator shaft before hitting water, and yet they aren’t even slightly hurt.

46) Going back to the Executioner boss that I mentioned earlier, the battle with him takes place in the shower room that seems to have a layout that confuses the characters because they are surprise attacked several times whilst in that room, but all of the things attacking them have come from areas where they have just been standing.

47) The fourth film ends with Alice and the rest of the gang taking over a ship and declaring over the radio that there is enough food for everyone. She only arrived 20 minutes previously, spending most of the time looking around the test areas and beating Wesker, there is no way that she knew that there was enough food for everyone.

48) The fourth film also claims that a plane going at a speed that is flying fast enough to maintain itself in the air can go from whatever speed that is to nothing (with the help of a few ropes) in something that’s less than the length a football pitch.

49) Not to forget that one of the things that helps the plane stop falling over the edge is Luther jumping nearly double his height and grabbing the back of the plane, weighing it down. No human that can jump that high would weigh more than an engine and therefore the weight would still feasibly force the plane over.

50) Then again, it’s not as unfeasible as the plane re-taking off sometime later with pretty much zero momentum. I’m not a pilot, nor really know anything about what it takes to fly a plane, but what I do know is that a plane going no more than 20 miles an hour will not take off at all, even if it suddenly goes off of the edge of a building.

51) What is just as strange about the plane taking off again is the character that is in it subsequently mows through several zombies with the propellers and their blood spurts in his mouth….but the window and hatch is completely shut. How did the blood get through?

52) The acting throughout is laughable, with Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker acting as though his jaw had been wired so that it couldn’t go beyond a certain point.

53) SSSSSSSLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW MMMMMOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNN. I didn’t notice until the fourth film just how much slow motion was in this franchise. It’s not too bad in the first film, infact I believe it’s rarely used, but it is considerably more noticeable in the latter half of the franchise, and I would love to know how long the fourth film would be if it was played at normal speed. I would go as far as saying it would be less than an hour.

54) This over-use of slow motion carries over into the fifth and sixth films. Infact, the first three or so minutes of the fifth film are completely in slow motion, then it shows you what happened at normal speed and it couldn’t have lasted longer than fifteen seconds.

55) Whilst slow motion isn’t ideal, it’s certainly better than constant jump cuts. The sixth film in particular is awful for this and at one point I counted eleven jump cuts in just five seconds. How can you possibly keep up with that? I wish I could even say it was a one off but it keeps happening throughout the entirety of the movie.

56) The fifth film in its general entirety. It’s basically just a “Greatest Hits” edition of the previous four films.

57) My biggest gripe with the fifth film is that is completely inconsequential. You could take this movie out and the rest of the series would, for the most part, stay exactly the same.

58) It is visually repulsive and I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire film was filmed on green screen as so much of it looks fake.

59) One of the early scenes sees Alice imprisoned in what is basically a giant cylinder, and for some reason Umbrella have decided to keep all of her stuff in a drawer that she has relatively easy access to. I highly doubt that they would ever release her, and even if they do I highly doubt that they would give her her stuff back, so what’s the point in keeping it?

60) It is established in the fifth film that the facility that they are in is controlled by Umbrella and that they can change each environment to make it as difficult as possible for the characters to escape, but none are truly made that difficult. If they wanted to then could make it a monsoon style weather system in each environment and force the characters into drowning, or change the temperature to either freeze or cook the characters alive.

61) One other zone consists of two “executioners”, but if Umbrella were truly intent on capturing or killing them then surely they could have had more than just two?

62) The problem with each of these scenes, as well as the others in the film, is that you never feel like Alice is in any danger of not killing her opponent eventually.

63) This isn’t helped by the fact that with the help of Ada, the movie feels like nothing more than a film equivalent of co-op in computer games. Co-op doesn’t work effectively in the games and certainly doesn’t help in the films.

64) Ada also doesn’t feel like a fully realised character, not helped by that Bingbing Li’s entire dialogue was dubbed. It is unfortunately very obvious that she’s not the one talking.

65) There isn’t even a satisfying conclusion to the film as there isn’t a primary antagonist throughout the movie, just several sub-bosses.

66) The inclusion of clones of “One” and “Rain” from the first film makes you genuinely question whether each was real in that film, making their plight somewhat less compelling.

67) The sixth film in its general entirety.

68) For some reason they decided to film almost the entire movie on a handheld camera rather than the normal set up. This doesn’t add anything so I’m not sure what they were trying to achieve.

69) One of thing that they certainly don’t achieve is revealing what happened after the end of the fifth film. All you find out is that Wesker betrayed them and then Alice emerges from a hatch, surrounded by the remains of White House.

70) Wesker, after being built as a very hard to kill antagonist, is taken out very easily in the final film.

71) Infact, Wesker doesn’t really do anything at all in the final film, and in reality he is largely irrelevant to the plot of the overall franchise. He barely makes a worthwhile contribution throughout.

72) One of the key plot points of the final entry to the franchise is that the Red Queen is constantly stating that in a certain amount of hours the last human settlements will fall unless the anti-virus is released, leaving just Wesker and co alive. How can she possibly know when they will fall, or indeed where every single settlement is? Yes, they have the satellite system, but if someone was in a underground settlement on their own, it’s highly unlikely that that system would know.

73) It even seems strange that the Red Queen knows about this anti-virus and has done since the first film, but didn’t think to mention it once, even though she clearly stated that it was her responsibility to make sure that the T-virus wasn’t spread.

74) Even if it were the case where it was definitely 48 hours, it would be too late to release the airborne anti-virus and have it reach those settlements in time for the humans in them to survive.

75) This entry contains yet another contradiction in the franchise as it claims that the Red Queen was modelled after the daughter of Dr. Marcus, but this contradicts the first few films in which they explain that it was modelled after the daughter of Dr. Ashford from the second film.

76) Alice also seems to go through something of a contradiction as she willingly puts all of the survivors at risk when she wants the gates open for one person that’s being chased by thousands of zombies, but this follows her blowing up a tank knowing that it’s full of survivors that are being held captive.

77) Soon after she also proceeds to cause an explosion in the other tank, thus killing all of the survivors in there, but all Umbrella operatives emerge within seconds with nothing more than a cough, even though they were right next to the explosions.

78) Then again, her even getting to the tanks is odd enough given that it is clearly shown that there are too many zombies for them to walk without banging into each other, but she somehow manages to land in the middle of a patch where there are no zombies.

79) The final film reveals that Alice and the Dr Isaacs we see in the third film were infact clones. Revealing that Alice has been a clone all along killed the connection that anyone realistically had with the character because you realise that you’re not following the original, you’re following a copy, and it takes a lot of the emotional connection out of the situation.

80) There are also two Dr. Isaacs’ in the sixth film, one of whom is a clone, but you again don’t find this out until much later in the movie. There are no real need for this.

81) When the characters in the sixth film reach the facility, Wesker decides that one way to kill them would be to reverse the polarity on turbines, therefore sucking all of the air in and meaning that they will be sucked in. One character is killed and Wesker decides that will be enough for then, but then gets confused and frustrated when all the characters end up in closer than he wanted.

82) There are numerous instances in the series of the characters being in a completely empty environment, only to then be completely surrounded on all sides by zombies. Either the zombies are super quiet, or we’re to believe that they just happened to come across them with such convenient timing.

83) Several characters in the series turn into zombies after only a handful of hours, whereas a few take several days.

84) The numerous product placements that aren’t even remotely subtle through the entire franchise, such as Sony products in the second and third films.

85) Arguably the least subtle however comes in the fourth when Alice is trying to figure out where she knows Luther from. After he unsuccessfully guesses that she is a basketball fan, he says “well maybe you’re a fan of fine time pieces” and the film then cuts to a poster with a massive Tag Heuer logo in the middle of it.

So that’s it, 85 reasons that I could find for the series generally sucking.



2 thoughts on “Keeping it Reel : 85 reasons why the Resident Evil franchise sucked

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