Michelle Rodriguez

Thoughts on… the Resident Evil films

Last month I finished watching the Resident Evil film series for the first time. I watched the first film back in May on Netflix and then when I saw a cheap deal on a box set of all the films I decided to get them and slowly make my way through them all.

The films are apparently very loosely based on video games with the same name. The films follow Alice (Milla Jovovich), someone who was once a security operative for the Umbrella Corporation, a bioengineering pharmaceutical company that develops bioweapons, as she fights against the corporation and the undead monsters it created with its bio weapons.

They are not particularly great films and the early ones haven’t aged particularly well in regards to the special effects but generally there’s something somewhat enjoyable/good to be found in each one. There’s often a lot of quick editing, making it hard to follow or appreciate action sequences and the dialogue isn’t always that great either. there’s a lot of heavy-handed exposition dumps throughout the film-series, especially in Resident Evil: Retribution. The later films were obviously shot/converted into 3D as there’s so many shots of bullets or knives flying towards the screen. It’s this sort of thing that might have looked cool or added something to the film if you were watching it in 3D in the cinema but now, watching it on the TV it’s just a gimmick.

My favourites out of the six-film series is the first Resident Evil film and Resident Evil: Extinction. The first film because it’s really quite a tense film that combines mystery and horror well. Being in The Hive (the underground research facility), such an enclosed space with only a small group of characters who are learning about the undead at the same pace you are is interesting. Plus, the deadly artificial intelligence offers an extra layer of threat because it has control of the whole place. The characters themselves all follow pretty typical military-esque stereotypes with strong, in control leader James Shade (Colin Salmon) and the lone-badass girl in the team Rain (Michelle Rodriguez).

I like Resident Evil: Extinction because it really feels like a post-apocalyptic world. It’s set in the desert states of America, Alice’s outfit is the most practical out of all her various outfits she wears across the films, and it’s got a lot of interesting characters like Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) who is really cool and capable and I loved his relationship with Alice, and Claire (Ali Larter) the leader of this ragtag group of survivors you follow. All the other character you see in this group of survivors are obviously somewhat smart and capable to have survived so long and when Alice comes into their lives, you get to really see how her abilities have developed.

Both films feature the zombie dogs which are my favourite scary creatures in the series. I think it’s because you see monster-humans a lot in media but you don’t really see the animals become undead or evil. The sequences with undead dogs and crows are some of my favourite, they’re instantly more tense and scary in my mind.

The Resident Evil franchise is not the best thing ever but in my mind, it’s not the worst either. I think Resident Evil: The Final Chapter did a good job at wrapping everything up, especially as the films seemed to get more convoluted as they went on. There was the various clones, characters who didn’t stay dead and the Umbrella Corporation’s over the top evil plans, it all got a bit confusing and unnecessary at times. I don’t feel I’ve wasted my time on them, they were mostly entertaining, easy-watches – though I didn’t really like Resident Evil: Afterlife, I found it kind of boring.

Have you watched the Resident Evil films? What do you think of them?

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REVIEW: Fast & Furious 8 (2017)

When Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is seduced into the world of terrorism by the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron), his family and crew must join with old foes in order to stop him.

Fast & Furious 8 really steps it up a gear in terms of stunts and spectacle. There’s car chases on the streets of New York, a giant wrecking ball taking out cars and, of course, a submarine vs cars on ice sequence. They shouldn’t work and sometimes it’s a little chaotic to follow where everyone is but it’s best to let the adrenalin start pumping and go along for the ride.

Cipher is a very different kind of villain to what the crew has faced before. She’s almost all seeing and all-knowing thanks to her hacking skills and is powerful enough to get Dom to turn on his family for her. Most of her scenes are with Dom so it would’ve been nice to see her interact with more of the characters and see how characters like loud-mouth Roman (Tyrese Gibson) would react her.

It’s weird going into a Fast and Furious film without Paul Walker being there and they do have a reason why he and Jordana Brewster are not in the film, but the film generally still holds up with the old crew and a few new additions. There’s Eric (Scott Eastwood) Mr. Nobody’s (Kurt Russell) new protégée, who takes a while to gel and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is roped in to join the team. The conflict between him and the team is a bit hit and miss, the film quickly brushes off his history with the team (they almost killed his brother and he in turn killed one of their own and tried to kill the rest of them in the last film) and it would’ve been nice to see some more of that conflict. The one place you do feel that tension is between Shaw and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), their chemistry is great and there’s a lot of humour from them two trash talking each other.

Each member of the team has their moment to shine but in many ways, this is Dom’s film. He has the emotional beats of the film, along with (to a lesser extent) Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). She, as his wife, is the most visibly torn up about his betrayal and while she does have some cringey lines, she gives a good performance.

What can I say, if you’ve seen any of the recent Fast and Furious films then you know what you’ll be getting into – a world where the laws of physics don’t apply and the main crew of street racers are more like spies or superheroes nowadays. Fast & Furious 8 continues to be a lot of fun with a thrilling finale and a lot of laughs all the way through the film – it’s mad but it works. 4/5.

R is for Michelle Rodriguez

michelle-rodriguez-2015-amfar-new-york-gala_1Michelle Rodriguez always ends up playing total badass characters that also have a good heart… and also ends up dying a fair bit in films.

I think (possibly obviously) the first film I saw her in was The Fast and the Furious (2001) as Letty and I love everything about her and that character as the series progresses. Letty is a great character who is just as good as the guys but also has her moments of vulnerability.

S.W.A.T. (2003) is not exactly a great film but I can’t help but like it. I mean it has some of my favourite actors in it like Michelle Rodriguez, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson and has some great action pieces. Michelle was also in Avatar (2009) and she was my favourite character in the film.

Michelle Rodriguez’s first film was Girlfight (2000) which I haven’t seen and only recently heard of it. It sounds like a great film full of different female characters and it’s both written and directed by a woman so I definitely want to watch it soon as it’ll go towards my go of watching more women-made films.

REVIEW: Fast & Furious 7 (2015)

fast_and_furious_7_movie_poster_1Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) seeks revenge on Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and their family for what happened to his brother in London. In order to find Shaw before he finds them, they help government agent Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) rescue a hacker and their device that can locate anyone on the planet.

If you know what the Fast & Furious franchise is about, you’ll know what to expect from this film. There’s the ridiculously amazing car stunts, the great team/ family dynamics and there will be some girls in skimpy outfits. It’s over the top and brilliant.

All the stunts and fight scenes are incredible and the trailer really just teases them. The sequence where the cars drop out of the plane goes on a lot longer and it’s a sequence that just keeps on giving. The various fight scenes are also great – I especially liked the one between Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Kara (Ronda Rousey).

Statham is a great addition to the Fast & Furious franchise. He is a threatening presence throughout the whole film and always manages to show up and cause problems for the team when they’re least expecting it. His character’s introduction is truly brilliant, you don’t see him do much in the way of violence but it definitely establishes him as a force to be reckoned with.

Like the previous films in the franchise, in Fast & Furious 7 each character has their time to shine. Whether that’s Roman (Tyresse Gibson) crashing a party and making it incredibly awkward, Tej (Ludacris) hacking into a high security penthouse or Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) with a huge machine gun. It was great seeing so many of these characters who do feel like a family back together again.

Obviously production on Fast & Furious 7 was put on hold due to the tragic death of Paul Walker. You can tell that rewrites had to happen because in a sense it feels like two films, one with Deckard Shaw as the main bad guy and one with the secret government agent Mr. Nobody, that have been pushed into one big film. This means that some plot threads don’t always work and it would have been nice to fully concentrate on one aspect of the film but with what they had, they have made another action-packed, funny and thrilling film.

Fast & Furious 7 is a bit bittersweet really, especially if you’re a big fan of the franchise and its characters. It gives a wonderful tribute to Paul Walker and the character of Brian O’Conner that will leave just about anyone chocked up. It’s a fitting end to the film, and (possibly though probably not due to how much money it’s set to make) to the franchise as a whole. Fast & Furious 7 is big, bold and a lot of fun and is possibly even better than the last film. 4/5.