Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson
Run time: 107 minutes
The Lowdown: Wow, it’s been 15 years since Alice (Milla Jovovich) first ventured down into the Umbrella Corporation’s Hive below Raccoon City, and five films later, the most successful videogame-to-film franchise to date is finally wrapping up its story.
The 2002 original, Resident Evil, is still the best of the bunch, but that hasn’t deterred writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson (aka, Mr. Jovovich since 2009).
Anderson wrote all six films, including 2004’s Apocalypse, 2007’s Extinction, 2010’s Afterlife, 2012’s Retribution and this year’s The Final Chapter, plus he directed the last three films after vacating the director’s chair for Apocalypse and Extinction.
One might think that given his role in overseeing the franchise, Anderson might have tried to eventually return to the taunt zombie house of horrors vibe that permeated the original and made it such an unexpected surprise.
And, to be honest, there’s a solid 45-minute chunk of The Final Chapter that offers hope for the concluding chapter to make its way back to genre greatness, but by this point in the series, with so many versions and variations of Alice, not to mention most of the supporting players, who have each returned to the fold for at least an extended cameo, that hope is gone.
Resident Evil just ran out of gas way back in 2010, but somehow kept wheezing on down the road for another three installments.
Longtime fans who gave up on paying theater prices with each subpar sequel may find closure here, and for newcomers, or jaded fans, there is that sizable chunk midway through that does entertain. But The Final Chapter isn’t the spectacle that it could have been, and that’s a shame.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Milla Jovovich justs gets hotter with age.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Umbrella Corp., duh!
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage (Paramount, 107 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): Color me crazy for saying this, but xXx: Return of Xander Cage is actually an enjoyable action movie that far surpasses the franchise’s first two films.
It’s also the best work by director D.J. Caruso in years.
xXx, as a series, is still silly, but the working-overtime efforts to incorporate more extreme stunts and skills (skateboarding, BMX racing, etc.) flow better this third time around the X-Games arena.
Also helping matters is the talented supporting cast, which offsets Vin Diesel’s grunts, grimaces and zen-like quips as action messiah Cage. Samuel L. Jackson returns – because, it’s a movie and he is contractually obligated to appear in every movie – but his role is thankfully brief, giving way for Toni Collette to expand her resume with some stunt work.
The two standouts, though, are Donnie Yen, finally giving U.S. audiences an appreciation for why he’s a huge star in China, and Nina Dobrev, who just kills as Becky Clearidge, the xXx equivalent of Q. Dobrev is hysterical and a welcome blast of freshness whenever she’s on screen.
Still, while entertaining, this is a movie that just doesn't know when is enough. That's why the final 15 or so minutes just drag on, featuring a clever cameo that overstays its welcome and the return of Jackson's Augustus Gibbons just to remind viewers that a fourth installment is likely being prepped.
Streets of Fire – Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 93 minutes, PG, Blu-Ray): Walter Hill’s “rock and roll fable” remains one of my favorite films from the awesome ‘80s.
Released in 1984, Streets of Fire was an anomaly that many moviegoers just didn’t understand. Was it an action film? A musical? A comedy or a drama?
The reality is that Streets of Fire aspired to be all of the above, and more, and it mostly succeeded, thanks in part to an early peek at the would-be-greatness of Willem Dafoe.
It’s also one of the best film soundtracks of that decade, featuring original songs by Jim Steinman, Stevie Nicks and more.
More than 30 years later, Streets of Fire is still an anomaly in the best possible way. It doesn’t look or sound like any other movie of its time. It boasts the hallmarks that would become Hill staples – tough guys taking charge, femme fatales, irreverent humor and vital blasts of rock and roll.
Now on Video-on-Demand:
The Survivalist (IFC Midnight, 104 minutes, Unrated, VOD): Stephen Fingleton’s feature debut, The Survivalist, is a special film that deserves a wide audience.
It’s an apocalyptic saga that doesn’t need to explain what has brought about a significant change in the way the world works.
It’s a love story, of sorts, albeit a twisted facsimile of end-times love, between a young man out in the wild for seven years and the barely-legal girl offered by her mother as payment for their safe harbor.
And it’s clever – good luck trying to solve the riddle of who is the actual survivor in the title, whether it’s the stoic, unnamed survivalist (Martin McCann) or the cunning girl Milja (Mia Goth) who shows up with her mother Kathryn (the very talented Olwen Fouere).
Fingleton wisely leaves a lot to be filled in by the audience’s imagination, and he purposefully structures the film with a very tempered pace to allow the isolation, despair and uncertainty these characters experience take solid hold of viewers.
If you’re looking for an unconventional thriller that doesn’t play by traditional genre rules, The Survivalist should be on your radar and high up on your must-see list.
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