The storyline for the Resident Evil movies are loosely based on Capcom's videogame series. Initially, the rights were bought by Constantin Film back in 1997 but were later acquired by Columbia TriStar in 2001. The father of zombie flicks himself, George A. Romero was almost hired to be both the writer and director for the first movie. His script was ultimately dropped, and Paul W. S. Anderson was brought in to replace him. And thus was born the film series as we know it today (for better or for worse).
Less Horror, More Action
After the success of the first movie, he stayed as the producer and writer for Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction; then resumed his role as a director for Resident Evil: Afterlife and Resident Evil: Retribution (2012). Anderson deliberately stated that he did not wish for any tie-ins, as Resident Evil deserved a proper and original representation.
A character created solely for the films, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the main protagonist of the series. She starts out as a security personnel for the Umbrella Corporation -- a pharmaceutical company working in secret to produce bio-weapons. Caught in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse they had started, Alice rebels against her former employers. Infected with the T-virus, she gains new abilities such as superhuman strength and agility.
Ignoring the Original Fans in Favor of a Larger Market
Being avid players of the videogames, we were initially disappointed with the choice. Going for an original character, really? How is that going to fit into the continuity (if at all)? But, we're glad we were wrong. She started off a bit shaky but Milla Jovovich has totally owned the role of Alice. She plays a convincing action heroine, able to portray a likeable character in the midst of all the gunfire and explosions. Throughout the series, Alice has been infected, cured and infected again. She has been hunted down and has turned the tables more times than we can count and yet we still can't get enough of seeing her on-screen. If anything, Jovovich "is" the Resident Evil film franchise.
Unfortunately, we can't say the same for the rest of the cast. In terms of facial features alone, none of them hit the mark. The biggest offender here is Shawn Roberts as he looks more like a G.I. Joe action figure than Albert Wesker. It's a disappointment because, if the original game's intro is any indicator, it is possible to find actors who resembled the characters. Our next gripe would be the half-hearted attempt at transforming chick flick stars into action leads. It was painful to watch Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine simply because she didn't look committed or believable. When holding a gun, she looked more like she was posing rather than actually being ready to fire it.
Watch it for the Gratuitous Action, Not the Plot
As for the storyline, well, after five movies it has gotten quite confusing. Fans of the games will be confused with the inconsistencies while non-fans will probably be wondering about the mish mash of elements. There's Red Queen, the killer AI, the Plagas which don't resemble their game counterparts and the scarab used to control Claire and Jill. The last one, in particular, tells us that even Anderson is confused. When Claire had it in the fourth film, she had her memories wiped while Jill's recovery was instantaneous. We get it, continuity isn't a priority. But with a franchise as big as this? It could have been better.
So why, pray tell should you even bother watching the films? It's not for the exceptional casting or the intriguing storyline. It's simply because it's entertaining. From deadly laser traps to zombie apocalypse simulators, you'll be at the edge of your seat waiting for Alice to kick some ass -- the films were designed to contain a roller coaster ride of action sequences and nothing else. Because it is a loose adaptation, it's not for diehard fans of the resident evil games but it should be a fun ride if you're just after a good time. Plus, it makes good use of the Fusion Camera System (same one used in Avatar) so it's actually worth watching in 3D.