Resident Evil: Retribution 3D, the fifth installment in the Resident Evil series that has grossed over $700 Million worldwide, hits theaters on September 14th. Not only has the series grown in popularity, the films themselves have grown in scope. When I was onset last year, Retribution promised to be the biggest one of them all – a notion that the trailers have since backed up.
It’s also interesting how so many characters thought lost or dead show up in the new installment. Sienna Guillory’s Jill Valentine, Colin Salmon’s James “One” Shade, Michelle Rodriguez’s Rain Ocampo and Oded Fehr’s Carlos Olivera are all returning. Keeping all this in mind in this sponsored piece, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at how each installment has grown and the last time we saw each of our unexpectedly returning characters.
RESIDENT EVIL (2002)
The first film in the series is of course the smallest and many people forget its somewhat humble origins. Even though its scope is larger than one might expect from such things, it’s essentially a haunted house movie despite all of the twists, turns and detours (not to mention flesh-slicing lasers) it provides. Alice (our hero and amnesiac former Umbrella operative) awakes nude on the floor, clinging to a shower curtain, and the sh*t hits the fan soon thereafter. The film more or less stays in one location – but the nature and expanse of that location change once it’s revealed that the house they’re in is actually “The Hive” and there are many, many levels.
Colin Salmon’s “One” (James Shade) and Michelle Rodriguez’s Rain get in on the action and are set up as supporting protagonists fairly quickly, which is why it’s a bit of surprise when Salmon’s character is sliced into tiny cubes by a laser grid 45 or so minutes in. How he’ll come back from that in Retribution I have no idea. Later on Rain gets an equally iconic goodbye, infected by the T-Virus she gets the traditional heroic zombie send-off. Again, I can’t see how they’re going to bring all of these people back in Part 5. Reanimation? Memory implantation? Time travel? We’ll have to see!
RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004)
This entry feels bigger right away. Even though Alice is quickly reintroduced through voiceover, we initially follow Sienna Guillory’s Jill Valentine through her day in Racoon City. The T-Virus has expanded and the city is under siege by zombies. The time spent outside in a world under attack helps sell the stakes. Recently suspended, we see Valentine strut back into her precinct and blow away a few of the infected before she and her partner, Raz Adoti’s Peyton Wells, are trapped in a church along with Sandrine Holt’s reporter character Terri Morales. There’s only a little bit of to and fro before Alice enters the temple in grand fashion, smashing through a stained glass window on her motorcycle.
Meanwhile, the city has been sealed off (in preparation for its cleansing via atomic blast) and Dr. Ashford (Jared Harris from “Mad Men”) is offering a way out to anyone who can find his missing daughter, Angie. Again, the time spent outside gives this film a more wide-open feel than the first – as does the comic relief from Mike Epps’ L.J.and the military authority provided by Oded Fehr’s Carlos Olivera.
While a new twist emerges in the form of “Nemesis”, a hulking behemoth with a gatling gun that turns out to be a heavily mutated (and mind-controlled) Matt (as played by Eric Mabius in the first film), the film climaxes as our protagonists flee the nuclear destruction of Raccoon City via helicopter. Unfortunately, they’re a little bit too close to the blast and the helicopter is sent careening out of control after Alice is badly wounded. Alice awakes in another Umbrella compound and, newly equipped with superpowers, escapes with the help of Jill and Carlos.
RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION (2007)
Things take a big leap forward in third installment. We’re really out in the world now (even if we’re not entirely sure where Jill Valentine is), as things kick off many of our heroes in a desert caravan. Carlos and L.J. have presumably been busy picking up other survivors, Ali Larter’s Claire and Ashanti’s Betty among them. Director Russell Mulcahy is really going for some sweep here, the desert environment and an abandoned Las Vegas hammer home the point of just how much the T-Virus has spread. This thing is global and Earth is infected.
We find out early on that Alice has been cloned repeatedly by Iain Glen’s Dr. Isaacs, and the way in which her clones are dispatched brutally ups the stakes. This particular entry is relentless when it comes to killing people off. Betty eats it (via infected crows) and so does L.J. – but not before infecting Carlos. And when the time comes, Carlos offs himself in a pretty spectacular way that has me wondering – again – how are all of these people coming back for Retribution?
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (2010)
Afterlife sort of becomes the Alice and Claire show at the beginning, which I don’t mind at all. After trying to meet up with the survivors from Extinction, Alice discovers that the place they were looking for all along – an uninfected oasis in Alaska named Arcadia – doesn’t truly exist. Instead, she finds an almost feral Claire – brainwashed by the same silver and red scarab Guillory can be seen wearing in Retribution – alone in the wilderness, her memory wiped.
As they fly south they find a group of survivors trapped on the rooftop of the LA County Jail – right in the middle of the zombie infested city. Among its occupants are a sleazy producer, his intern, an innocent ingenue and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) – the global basketball superstar. After discovering that Arcadia is not a town in Alaska, but an oil tanker just off the Los Angeles coast, our heroes set to find a way out of the jail with the help of resident inmate (and Claire’s brother) Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller). Not all of them make it, and there are some hefty betrayals – but by the time our heroes get to the Arcadia it’s clear that this whole thing is a trap set by Wesker and the Umbrella Corporation.
After Wesker is seemingly defeated, Alice and company free the 2,000 inhabitants of the ships’ cryostasis system and head above deck. Soon, they’re confronted with an army of warplanes being led by none other than a rapidly reinvigorated Wesker and a newly blonde Jill Valentine (revealed in a mid-credits sting).
Which begs the question, does Claire survive the ensuing battle? We know Retribution picks up right where this one left off and that Ali Larter is not listed in the cast. I guess we’ll that out – along with how everyone else got resurrected – on September 14th.
Get more at the film’s official website.