Friday, September 10, 2010
Nowhere to go After this
When the first Resident Evil came out, it implied that the world was in pretty big trouble.
Yeah, the outbreak of zombie-ism occurred in an underground military-style laboratory -- forgive me if I'm hazy on the details, I haven't seen it since it was in the theater in 2002. But I believe the plague had already advanced pretty far by the end of the movie, when our fair protagonist, Alice (Milla Jovovich), finds herself in a city completely overrun with zombies. She's left with the seemingly impossible task of picking them all off, all by her lonesome -- video game-style, you might say. And it seems like that's probably that for poor Alice.
Of course, Resident Evil did well enough to inspire at least three sequels, the most recent of which is hitting theaters today -- and is of course shot in 3D. (Actually shot this time, I think -- from the trailer I saw before Piranha 3D, the 3D looks too good to have been retrofitted.) So Alice not only survived that seemingly impossible situation, but went on to thrive, even if the hows and whys have not been a strong suit of the Resident Evil sequels.
By far the worst of which, so far, was Resident Evil: Apocalypse, which came out in 2004. The fact that it was an incomprehensible mess is not really germane to my argument. Rather, it's the title I'm interested in. The title set up an ascending name convention that is still alive today -- though possibly not for very much longer.
The subtitle -- is that the right word? -- Apocalypse has a certain finality to it, doesn't it? It kind of says "Yes, what you thought might happen has happened. Zombies have taken over the world. This is the apocalypse."
But perhaps because Resident Evil: Apocalypse was such a piece of shite, the people who own the rights to the franchise felt like they had to make a third, to restore the series' "good name." In 2007, they brought in a third director, as Russell Mulcahy took the baton first passed from Paul W.S. Anderson to Alexander Witt, and made a really promising trailer for a film in which Las Vegas is almost totally submerged in sand. This eye-popping image got me excited for Resident Evil movies again, and they called this one Resident Evil: Extinction. It may be the most fun Resident Evil movie to date.
Let's look at those titles again. Okay, if Apocalypse wasn't bad enough, now we've reached the Extinction phase. That's right, there will be no humans left after this movie. I guess you could say that every extinction is preceded by some kind of apocalypse. The apocalypse is the shocking moment of recognition, and the extinction finishes the job. It's a logical progression. But there's nowhere to go after that, right?
Now we have Resident Evil: Afterlife, returning to the series' roots by putting Anderson back at the helm. Duh! I'm smacking my forehead. With all the humans dead -- though, I must say, I don't think that actually happened at the end of Resident Evil: Extinction -- this movie must feature a bunch of largely theoretical skirmishes between ghosts in heaven or hell. Doesn't that make logical sense? Isn't that where this titular progression has delivered us?
If so, what about Resident Evil 5? Where does one go after the Afterlife?
I'm taking suggestions. Although this would paint them into another corner of certain finality, they could call it something like Resident Evil: Game Over. It would be a good nod to the video game origins of the franchise. Or perhaps Resident Evil: Endgame, which expresses the same thing, but shies away from the video game origins, which they may actually think is key to reaching a wider audience. Or they could just start the clock over with something like Resident Evil: Rebirth or Resident Evil: Reborn. Though that doesn't express nearly the amount of pessimism we're accustomed to in these titles.
Here's my real prediction: If Resident Evil: Afterlife does reasonably well -- and there's no reason to think it won't be a solid enough performer, like the other movies in the series -- it'll officially be time for a reboot. Oh, I don't think they'll jettison Alice -- she's been through so much already -- but that doesn't mean the whole thing can't be advertised in the context of some kind of "new beginning." Maybe they'll call it The Resident Evil, just so we understand the distinction.
Let's just put it this way: No one in Hollywood would ever allow him/herself to be boxed in by adhering to some arbitrary naming convention. Where there's money to be made, it's probably a lot easier to come up with a decent title than a decent movie.