Games vs. Films: Resident Evil


Posted September 10, 2010 - By MonfetteG4

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There’s no doubt that the Resident Evil films have strayed far, far away from the storylines of the critically celebrated, much beloved game series. But as the fourth film threatens to terrorize audiences – this time in 3-D, no less – we thought we’d take a quick look back at the cinematic story thus far, as well as the differences and similarities between the games and the films.

Fans will no doubt remember that the first game in the Resident Evil series was a straight-up, claustrophobic horror experience. Gunning down zombies in a seemingly abandoned mansion on a dark-and-stormy night, S.T.A.R.S. agents Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield might as well as have been cast as the heroes in an early George Romero film. In Paul W.S. Anderson’s version of the classic survival title, they’re not even in the movie, replaced by a wholly original character named Alice.

Played by Milla Jovovich, Alice finds herself in a comparable mansion, unable to recall the events that brought her there. Amnesia aside, Alice certainly hasn’t forgotten her ability to shoot guns and kick-ass, teaming up with a similarly stranded police officer named Matt before the pair is subsequently dragged into the underground facility below the mansion. While this roughly follows the structure of the initial game – with Chris and Jill descending into the more sci-fi bowels of the mansion – the rest of the film is an almost total departure from the accepted cannon. The facility, of course, belongs to the Umbrella Corporation and is run by an A.I. program known as the Red Queen, a holographic projection of a little girl. Originating solely in the film, the Red Queen later made her debut in the game series in 2007’s The Umbrella Chronicles as the codename for the company’s central computer system.

Meanwhile, the Queen has placed the lab in lockdown after an outbreak of the series’ iconic T-Virus, capable of reanimating the dead. As the group battles its way through the zombie-infested corridors, they eventually uncover the truth behind Umbrella’s bioweapons development. A concluding battle with the game’s classic boss, The Licker, culminates in Alice being captured by Umbrella scientists and an injured Matt – now wounded by the Licker’s mutating claws – forced into the Nemesis program.

Resident Evil: Afterlife Trailer »

The second film in the series, Apocalypse, follows the story of Resident Evil 2 only in as much as the game takes place on the streets of the zombie-ridden Raccoon City. As with the previous chapter, the game’s main characters are never featured in the film, and although Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) does finally make an appearance in the third movie in the franchise, Leon Kennedy has yet to show up in any of the big-screen Resident Evil releases. Jill Valentine, the heroine of the first game, eventually shows up later in the cinematic sequel, pairing up with Umbrella solider Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), a bit player in the first game. The two soldiers are eventually rescued by the recently escaped Alice, now a quasi-mutated, super-powered commodity for Umbrella.

In an effort to track down the fugitives, Umbrella releases Nemesis – the main antagonist in Resident Evil 3 – a massive, gun-toting, biomechanical mutation of Matt’s character from the previous film. At this point, Apocalypse begins to merge the storylines of the second and third Resident Evil games by tracking Jill, Carlos, Alice and a handful of other survivors as they attempt to escape the city. Just as the second game in the series involved a family of scientists implicit in the release of the T-Virus – known as the Birkin’s in the game series – Apocalypse introduces Dr. Charles Ashford, Umbrella researcher and father to the little girl after whom the Red Queen was modeled. As Umbrella prepares to nuke the city and contain the outbreak, Ashford pleads for the group to help find his flesh-and-blood daughter before he’ll help them breach the barrier. It is in this sequence where the film introduces what more recent RE gamers will recognize as zombie-dogs.

After a harrowing rescue and a final confrontation with Nemesis – in which Matt’s remaining humanity ultimately saves their lives – the group escapes the nuclear blast in a damaged helicopter, crashing on the outskirts of the decimated city as Alice is recaptured by Umbrella. The second film ends as Carlos and Jill aid in Alice’s escape, her psychic powers escalating. Eventually, she separates from the group in search of additional Umbrella strongholds.

Resident Evil: Afterlife with Milla Jovovich & Ali Larter »

Five years pass. When we next meet up with Carlos in Resident Evil: Extinction, the world has been completely ravaged by the T-Virus. Carlos and Claire Redfield lead a caravan through the desert and eventually reunite with Alice, who is now being hunted by Umbrella’s Dr. Isaacs. He is certain that a cure for the T-Virus can be synthesized from Alice’s blood, but only possesses a number of second-rate clones developed after her escape at the end of Apocalypse. Only a rudimentary Anti-Virus has been developed.

Eventually, the group decides to head north toward what they believe to be a safe-zone in Alaska. However, they’re ambushed during a re-supply trip to a zombie-infested Las Vegas. Reporting to Umbrella chairman Albert Wesker – a member of S.T.A.R.S. in the original game series and a subsequent villain throughout – Dr. Isaacs lays a trap for Alice and the others as they arrive in Vegas, unleashing a new breed of zombie. Carlos is bitten as the survivors battle their way free. Isaacs is also infected during the battle, escaping in a helicopter that the group is able to track to its base. Carlos sacrifices himself in order to clear a path through the hundreds of zombies amassed in front of the facility, allowing Alice a way inside.

There, Isaacs overdoses on the anti-virus, mutating into a twisted, terrible menace. Alice is horrified when she unearths a massive chamber full of clones of herself, one of whom ultimately helps her to eliminate the newly transformed doctor. While Claire is able to pilot the helicopter to Alaska, Alice remains behind, hacking into one of Wesker’s virtual board meetings to announce that her and her fellow clones are coming to strike a blow at the heart of Umbrella’s high-command.


resident evil afterlife

There’s no doubt that the film series departs almost entirely from the games beginning with Extinction, but it’s interesting to note that as the movies became increasingly focused on action, the games took a similar turn. While Resident Evil 5 does mimic the same sun-drenched gunplay of Extinction, both the game series and the film franchise amp up the sci-fi action as the chapters progress. And it’s good to see that Wesker is developing into the ultimate Umbrella puppet-master on both consoles and movie screens.

But the fourth film does continue to borrow from the series’ iconography even as the trailers depict both the hulking, axe-wielding figures modeled in Resident Evil 4 and 5 as well as the distended, forking mandibles of the current-gen zombies…Not to mention the long-awaited appearance of Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miler) in the film series after his starring role in the last RE game. Regardless of the story departures, both Resident Evil series have begun to mirror one another in tone and style. If this fourth film is indeed successful it’ll no doubt be interesting to see if – and how – the two versions merge.

Games vs. Films: Resident Evil


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