When the Resident Evil movie franchise launched, video game fans rebelled. It wasn’t the world from the game, outside of the mansion, evil corporation, and monsters. The heroine was not part of any of the games and this was just another video game movie that just played lip service to the title.
However, that first movie was also a solid horror action movie, especially for fans who didn’t care about the video games at all. As the Resident Evil franchise moved on, more things from the games showed up (Jill Valentine, Claire, Nemesis) and the mythos of the movie’s world grew. With the final Resident Evil movie out in theaters, here is a look at my ranking of Resident Evil movies, from worst to first.
6. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
I understand what the filmmakers were thinking here. They knew video game fans wanted some of their favorite things from the games in the movie, so they got Jill Valentine and Nemesis. The problem is that Jill Valentine was a horrible character and was an over-the-top spoof and satire of a woman’s action hero. Add to the fact that the workable directing of Paul W.S. Anderson was put into the hands of a very poor director in Alexander Witt and this ended up as almost unwatchable. This was just a poor, poor movie.
5. Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Paul W.S. Anderson took his ideas and stretched them out to an almost unbearable level with Resident Evil: Afterlife. When ranking the Resident Evil movies from worst to first, this one was only a slight step above Apocalypse and that is because at least the characters here were interesting. Kim Coates was solid as Bennett and the brother-sister duo of Claire (Ali Larter) and Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) were great. But the action in this movie was ludicrous and completely took me out of the story on multiple occasions.
4. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)
With the first two movies on this Resident Evil worst to first list out of the way, the last four all have positive attributes. When it comes to Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the story is what carries this movie to impressive heights. I love how they wrapped up the storyline and really loved how Alice plays into this entire story. The downfall here is haphazard directing and editing, making the fight scenes a labor to watch. But, damn this has a satisfying conclusion to the story.
3. Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
This is the Resident Evil movie that actually plays out most like a video game. Most of the story takes place in an underground Umbrella Corporation facility where they have digital worlds based on real places that they then tested their chemical warfare. The characters in the movie go from New York City to Tokyo to Moscow to a suburban neighborhood and have to beat the big bosses on each level. Add in some great characters like Bingbing Li’s Ada Wong, Kevin Durand’s Barry Burton, and a Jill Valentine that is miles better than her character in Apocalypse, and a return of favorites from the past (as clones), and you have a movie that is a blast to watch.
2. Resident Evil (2002)
Sure, video game fans hated the first Resident Evil movie because it didn’t play out like the game they loved. That means nothing here because this is just about the movies. As a film, this is a really solid horror action movie.
There are some great kills (One’s death is a standout), a great villain in the Red Queen, Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez playing off each other perfectly as badass female fighting machines, and a couple of solid performances by “are they or aren’t they bad guys” with Eric Mabius and James Purefoy. The movie is solid and has a perfect ending that sets up what fans could expect from the next five movies.
1. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
I am shocked that the Resident Evil franchise lasted after Resident Evil: Apocalypse. However, the producers did the smart thing and hired someone with a lot of experience to come in and take over as the director with Russell Mulcahy (Highlander). Seriously, his great direction of Resident Evil: Extinction showed everything that was wrong with Apocalypse.
The movie was smart and moved things out of the city and had the world already devastated, making this a Mad Max– styled movie instead. That change really shook up the movies and provided what worked out best for the future of the franchise.
There were so many great characters in this movie as well. For most of the franchise, it was Alice and the people who would either follow her to the end of die on the way there. This movie introduced us to Claire Redfield, brought back Carlos Olivera from Apocalypse in a much better role, and really upped the danger in both the monsters and in Dr. Isaacs’ evil ringmaster.
When it comes to Resident Evil movies, there were a lot of problems but a lot of fun to be had as well. Resident Evil: Extinction is where the franchise got it all right.