Oded Fehr

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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Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange? Not for me thanks

I shall start this by saying I’m a Marvel fan. From the animated X-Men cartoon in the 1990‘s to the films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I’m now branching out into the comic books. Also my two dissertations have been on comic book movies and one was specifically all about Marvel and how it became an independent film studio to a subsidiary of Disney. So besides from being a fan, I also have at least a vague knowledge of how Hollywood studios work and how Marvel has worked for the past decade.

So now onto why I’m writing this post – Doctor Strange and why I’m not particularly happy.

Yesterday it was reported that Benedict Cumberbatch was in talks to play Doctor Stephen Strange. His was a name rumoured for the role for weeks and other names floating around were Joaquin Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, Tom Hardy and Jared Leto – though to be honest, just about every white, middle-aged actor in Hollywood has been rumoured to be up for the role at some point or another.

Now talks of a Doctor Strange movie has been going around for a while but it especially kicked off when the name was dropped during Captain America: The Winter Solider. Fans were choosing who’d be their pick and mine was (and is) Oded Fehr from The Mummy. Fehr along with Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) turned out to be a popular choice among fans. A popular post on Tumblr of Doctor Strange fancasts include Fehr, Pascal, Alexander Siddig, Naveen Andrews and Godfrey Gao. One thing all these actors have in common is that they are not white.

Doctor Strange vs Oded Fehr - the similarities are astounding. Courtesy of @BlackGirlNerds

Doctor Strange & Oded Fehr – the similarities are astounding. Courtesy of @BlackGirlNerds

One problem that the MCU (and Hollywood blockbusters in general) has is that all its leads in its franchises are white men. Yes, The Avengers was an ensemble cast but of the six major leads, only Scarlett Johansen’s Black Widow was the only female character and she has yet to get her own movie. The lack of a female led film in the MCU is a discussion for another time.

Doctor Strange (like the Guardians of the Galaxy before the film came out) is more of an unknown character, this would then allow the filmmakers to do something different with it. So why not cast a person of colour as the lead? Also, why does the actor have to be someone who is so well known – both in the world of fandom and in the industry? Benedict Cumberbatch is part of some major franchises with Sherlock, The Hobbit and Star Trek under his belt, if Thor taught us anything, casting two relatively unknown actors as the leads can work out really well. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have both gone on to be well loved by fans and critics alike. Casting unknowns can be a cheaper way to make a movie and not detract from the character with their “star power”.

In short my dislike of Benedict Cumberbatch being Doctor Strange (a character I know pretty much nothing about bar the animated movie) comes down to two things. Over exposure to him as an actor and him being white. There are too many white male leads in the MCU and I’d love to see more diversity in the superhero comic book movie genre.

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw also wrote a great piece about why there’s such a backlash towards Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting.

As I was finishing writing this, Marvel has announced that there will be a Captain Marvel film in 2018 and a Black Panther film in 2017 and I’m excited about both (Black Panther especially) but I’m still a bit upset that there’s no Black Widow movie though there’s still no definite announcement about Doctor Strange. Who knows, maybe Benedict Cumberbatch won’t sign on to it and there will be fresh hope for a person of colour to play Doctor Strange once again?