CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
The Book (Finally) Closes on ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’
CHICAGO – Guilty pleasures are the order of the day, especially when we are facing daily signs of a real, impending apocalypse. End of the world by zombies remains one of the most popular cataclysmic cinematic events and “Resident Evil” is proof. “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” proves that what should be dead can come back to life, but the real question is if it actually should.
The “Resident Evil” film franchise has been around for over half my life and has proven to be the most successful (read: profitable) film series based on a video game to date. Having grown up on the video games, and having the first film come out during a probably impressionable time in my life (read: puberty), I have had this lingering fascination towards the franchise. The synergy created by combining several of my interests (video games, film, zombies, strong female protagonists, etc) has never lost its hold on me, no matter how monumentally awful each subsequent film became. I have no delusions that make me think these films are great or some higher art form. They are empty calories in the film food pyramid, but they successfully cater to gluttons (for punishment) like me.
Ghosts from Alice’s (Milla Jovovich)past and ghouls from her future converge in ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’
Photo credit: Sony Pictures
Now that I’ve successfully explained my toxic relationship with the franchise, we can talk about their not-so-toxic effect in geek culture. Paul W.S. Anderson is the driving force behind every aspect of “Resident Evil,” writing and producing every film, directing most of them, marrying the star (Milla Jovovich), and even having their offspring making their film debut in the final film. You have to admire his thoroughness. Easily considered the Sultan of Schlock, he has had a part in several video game adaptions (like his first film “Mortal Kombat” and the live action version of “DOA: Dead or Alive”) and a few popular franchises like “Death Race” and the “Alien” and “Predator” mashup. The power in Anderson’s style of filmmaking is that even though his films usually turn out to be banal, he presents them with such conviction that we don’t care.
Going into an Anderson film, you mostly know what to expect. Scattered story writing, cheesy dialogue often performed woodenly by poorly developed characters, nauseatingly fast-paced action sequences, and a heavy-handed use of CGI are just a few of his trademark film traits. “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” has all of this and still maintain its entertainment value. Like most of the “Resident Evil” films, a lot of the story development happens in the space between the films. Aside from feeling like a cheap way to tell a story, it also leaves the audience confused as to what they should know or even what is going on. Luckily, your brain can/should stay in hibernate mode while watching these films. The story is fairly superfluous, mainly there just as a vehicle to take our protagonist from fight to fight. Anderson does try to give us his best plot twists when it comes to Alice’s origin, but the first twist is something I thought was blatantly obvious if you paid even half attention to the previous film, while the second twist had no previous build up and basically was emotionally inert.
Like I said earlier, we don’t watch these films for their stories. If anybody did, they would have stopped about halfway into the first film in the series. The fun comes in the action sequences filled with impossible choreography against inhuman enemies. Visually, this film is much like the previous films, except with much faster pacing. “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” feels like it was sped up in an attempt to be edgy. Imagine you’re in a dark dance club where you can only see what is around you every other second when the strobe light turns one. That perfectly describes the editing of the action sequences, made all the worse by the 3D. Most of the time, you’re not entirely sure who is hitting who until one of them hits the floor.
Alice’s (Milla Jovovich) running from her past (and zombies) leads her back home in ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’
Photo credit: Sony Pictures
The one thing that this franchise has continued to provide is strong female protagonists. In an industry that is male dominated both on and off-screen, “Resident Evil” delivers several powerful female characters at a time when there were too few and too far between. The films, possibly even inadvertently, have been a metaphor for a woman’s battle against a patriarchal society that is destroying the world. Current political parallels notwithstanding, that part resonates the most with me and gives me a begrudging admiration for the films. The films owe everything to Milla Jovovich’s performance as she saves the day literally and cinematically. Jovovich shares in Anderson’s confidence and gives the film an uninhibited performance that is as infectious as the zombie plague they are fighting against.
All things end and all things die, zombies included. The bittersweet “final chapter” of this saga was made all the more bearable by the threat of more films at the end. Although “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” was one of the weakest entries in the series, it did provide a much-needed sense of closure for all the fans who have endured this long. Like a junkie trying to kick a habit, this wasn’t the ending we deserved but it was the one we desperately needed.