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With the news, only months after the final film was released, that this franchise is getting rebooted, I decided to watch all six films over a few days. Here are my brief notes (tl;dr 3 and 4 are quite good, the rest are rubbish): Resident Evil - cheap-feeling, ineffective movie with weak action and gore. Rips off Aliens and Cube amongst other things. The only thing worse than the stiffly-delivered perfunctory dialogue is the dirge of 90s alt metal jarringly slapped on top of it. The whole thing feels like it was written by a 14 year old and directed by someone straight out of film school. Resident Evil Apocalypse - even worse than the first; while that film at least had a basic story this is just a series of stuff happening, but with even worse dialogue, lower levels of coverage for action scenes and cheesier monster design. Rarely rises above the level of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and often feels more like an advert for a tough-on-dirt cleaning product. Resident Evil Extinction - wow, what a step up this film is. The real-world locations and a good director (Russell Mulcahy who also directed Highlander) are probably the key changes that make this film better in every way. Readable action scenes! Believable characters and dialogue! Cool monster design! A better-implemented, less cheesy score! It's not a classic film by any means - it's still hobbled by the franchise's episodic nature, and is now ripping off Mad Max 2 and The Birds along with the usual zombie tropes in place of Aliens and Cube (though it does it much better) - but it's a lot more enjoyable and professional, and it even retroactively fixes a few issues with Apocalypse. Resident Evil Afterlife - okay, this time it's The Matrix being ripped off, all leather-clad, rain-drenched slo-mo, but again it's done well enough that it's enjoyable. Again, the episodic nature hurts it a little, and it's the siege tropes that get a run through this time, but the continent-spanning, genre-swapping nature means it never feels dull. Also, the (real) 3D is great - I was severely disappointed when Anderson's Musketeers 3D was so ineffective. Resident Evil Retribution - what starts off as a promisingly inventive set-up - clones, mind-control and simulated environments allowing for versions of various characters from previous films to show up with different loyalties or peronalities in a variety of settings - is mostly wasted in this blur of dreary CGI and imploding lore (How is Wesker alive? How did Valentine get turned and where has she been? Why is the Red Queen suddenly in charge of Umbrella and wanting to wipe out humanity? Why does Wesker need Alice if he's the better version of her? How did Luther West end up working for Wesker's group of mercenaries? Perhaps these are getting left for the next film but that's pretty unsatisfying in the meantime). Michelle Rodriguez is the only returning actor who gets anything interesting to do, and there is a less welcome return of the creaking dialogue and paper-thin characterisation from the first two films. Resident Evil Final Chapter - goes back on everything set up at the end of the previous movie, entirely stops making sense and is at this point extremely repetitive. Unsatisfying.
I started working for Zynga last year, so naturally I started to consider the remote possibility that free-to-play games are not inherently evil. Jon Blow made the point that the limitation of free-to-play mechanics on games was akin to the limitations imposed on 80's sitcoms, it's a great talk you should see; http://the-witness.net/news/2013/11/a-speech-about-free-to-play-game-design/ But it started me thinking that actually as a kid, I did really enjoy the A-team, and is the A-team evil??? Maybe it's only free-to-play games that can never be art - and the sort of cynical consumerist attitude of the games industry as a whole can sort of migrate to that space and let the more traditional pay-to-play games develop and flourish as an art form. Anyone here have any mad opinions on this that will get me re-thinking my life? That's always welcome.