Adapting a video game to film presents a hard enough challenge, now imagine creating a successful franchise. Somehow, over the last thirteen years, director Paul W.S Anderson has cultivated a lucrative film series based upon the popular Resident Evil games – however, it appears that will soon come to an end.
In a recent interview with IGN, Ali Larter – known for playing Claire Redfield in the series – admitted that the upcoming entry to the franchise – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – lives up to its name. After thirteen years, six films, and almost one billion dollars at the worldwide box office, Alice and the rest of the Resident Evil ensemble will be put to rest. Larter spoke definitively about the nature of The Final Chapter,
We are not allowed to say one thing. I am held to secrecy, but what I can tell you is that the script is amazing. They're really wrapping up the whole series, so that just makes it a little more poignant. To be able to come back and reprise my role as Claire and my relationship with Alice, with Umbrella Corp. -- you know, I'm excited to get back in it. I think the fans are just going to be beyond excited.
Directed by Paul W.S Anderson, the Resident Evil series had humble beginnings. Starting off as a loose remake of the original Resident Evil game, the series slowly evolved and took on a life of its own – slowly becoming more action-centric, while still retaining the survival-horror spirit of the games upon which it takes inspiration. The films introduced new characters, but also found new ways to spin classic ones – such as Larter’s Claire Redfield.
As The Final Chapter indeed marks the literal final chapter of the franchise, it adds a previously unseen element of danger to the proceedings. Knowing they they will not return for another entry to the franchise, Anderson and Larter -- along with series headliner Milla Jovovich -- have carte blanche to take risks with the project. Unlike certain modern franchises, whose primary concern is longevity -- such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- the Resident Evil franchise can now take serious risks. For example, they can now easily kill off their main stars with no concern about cliff-hangers or sequel possibility, instead focusing wholly on creating a tense, dramatic atmosphere for the audience.
That all being said, it's not necessarily an enormous surprise to see the Resident Evil series come to an end. Despite its overall popularity, the series has flagged in recent years, with the recent Resident Evil: Afterlife failing to achieve the success of its predecessors. Ending with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter could mark a sincere attempt to send the tired franchise out on a high note.
It’s hard to say what made a long-term franchise like Resident Evil succeed and thrive when so many other video game adaptations fail to draw an audience with just one installment. On one hand, it could be a willingness to deviate from the narrative of the original games and forge its own path – a trait not shared by many failed adaptations, such as Doom. On the other hand, it also succeeds partially because of its willingness to embrace the aspects of the game that do work, while still creating its own identity – see: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter hits theaters September 2, 2016.