Horror / Sci-Fi / Action
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Movie Distributed By: Screen Gems
Novelization By: Tim Waggoner
Published By: Titan Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
If you have read many of my past reviews, you will know that I am a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise. I’ve played the games, watched the movies and read the books. Not all of the films have been terrific, but they have provided great entertainment over the years. When a final Resident Evil film was announced, I was immediately prepared to see it in theaters. But, as fate has it, it was in and out of theaters before I knew it. Having missed watching it, I read the novelization by Tim Waggoner. Then, a week later, I was able to check out the actual movie. Knowing that novelizations can differ from films, which do you think I liked better? You’re about to find out (I will try to limit spoilers for those who care):
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter begins shortly after Retribution, with Alice, Jill, Ada and Leon in Washington D.C. about to take on thousands of undead with an unlikely ally – Albert Wesker. But in the novelization, we flash back to the beginning, with Professor James Marcus watching over his dying daughter and trying to come up with something that will cure her from progeria, a degenerative disease. Through hard work and determination, he and his partner, Dr. Alexander Isaacs, would come up with the T-cell, which would not only provide a cure for his daughter, but could be used to help millions around the world.
Unfortunately, no one knew about the side effects of the T-Cell until an incident in South Africa in which a child died of asthma and re-animated into a flesh-eating zombie. Marcus wanted to end the T-Cell there, but Dr. Isaacs saw dollar signs in military applications, had Marcus killed and raised his daughter, maintaining his half of the company. It is largely due to Dr. Isaacs that the T-Virus has been spreading everywhere.
And now we rejoin Alice, awakening after a monstrous battle which collapses the White House. She and her friends are betrayed by Wesker and left for dead…in fact, only Alice survives and she has no idea where her young charge, Becky, is. Alice vows revenge against Wesker and the Red Queen has a way that Alice can achieve just that. Apparently, there is an airborne cure hidden deep within The Hive, back in Raccoon City. There is only one vial and it becomes a race against time for Alice to get to Raccoon City – the Umbrella Corporation is planning to destroy the small pockets of survivors around the world and then take over, releasing the cure so the upper echelon Umbrella Corporation survivors can rule the world. Alice must find a way to prevent that from happening in the little time she has left. But it won’t be easy – there will be obstacles at every turn, and though she finds allies to help along the way, it may be too little too late.
The movie begins a bit differently – we come upon Alice after the Washington, D.C. battle and betrayal, seeing nothing of the actual battle and loss of life at all. Becky is never mentioned in this film. We know that Wesker betrayed her, but not exactly how, the Red Queen makes her offer for revenge and things move on from there. The movie appears to be on the fast track and things move very quickly. There is a flashback to the moment when Dr. Isaacs realizes he has to get rid of Marcus, but the incident that makes Marcus realize the T-Cell variation he has created is dangerous is quite different. In fact, the only similarities between the incident in the book and in the movie is that it takes place on a sky tram and that it starts with a kid.
Now, here’s the thing – there’s no doubt that I enjoyed the action in the film – it’s choreographed perfectly and Milla Jovovich is, and always has been, amazing as Alice. But Resident Evil: The Final Chapter in movie format feels rushed and in rushing the film, we’re missing something vital to its core – it’s human side. Sure, most novelizations succeed because they allow us a more in depth look at what is going on in each character’s mind, but Waggoner’s novelization has more – it has a better storyline. I have the distinct impression that Waggoner was given one script to work with and that the moviemakers cut the hell out of that script to shorten it for theaters. This was a very bad mistake.
So now, in the movie, the only thing that Alice is looking for is some revenge against the Umbrella bad guys and a way to end the virus, a plausible motivation to be sure, but the book gives us more. By not allowing us to see what happens to Jill, Leon and Ada, we miss out on the depth of betrayal by Wesker. A part of that anger that we should be feeling along with Alice is gone. Then there is the Becky angle – the one that makes Alice fight that much harder to create a better world for the child that she seems to have grown an attachment to. That’s important. This is loner Alice we are talking about. This part of the storyline that was not in the movie lends Alice a human side and makes her vulnerable as well as giving her more of a reason to take Umbrella down and release the cure. It also makes her willingness to sacrifice herself for the good of the world’s last survivors that much more poignant. Not including these moments in the film does it and its fans who spent good money on something that just turned into a gaming action flick a disservice.
That’s not to say the book is perfect. There are moments in there that are rather over the top, like Jill’s final moment in which she saves Alice’s life. No way that’s even remotely possible. And yet, I think that the book gives you more bang for your buck than the movie.
So what do you do? Book or movie? I would read the novelization of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and skip the movie if I just wanted to know how things end. But, if you are like me, and want the visual experience, do exactly opposite of what I did. Watch the movie first, then read the book. By reading the book first, watching the film afterwards just made me incredibly angry at all that was missing that could have made the movie better. If you watch the film first, reading the book later might enhance the experience…or it may piss you off that a certain storyline was missing from the movie anyway. Your call – but now you have a little forewarning before you make your decision.
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