Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson (2017) BBFC cert: 15

Brace yourself for a ferocious return to the apocalyptic wonderland of Alice and the Red Queen.

The sixth in this zombie action franchise of variable quality, this demented trip improves on all but the brilliant first Resident Evil, which came out way back in 2002. It follows on directly from 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution.

As Alice, Milla Jovovich once again teams up with her favourite writer and director, Paul W. S. Anderson. The talented Geordie is also the star’s husband and their daughter Ever Gabo Anderson, plays the scheming Red Queen.

So Alice sets off to the giant underground bunker, the Hive, where her adventures first began. Among the many threats facing Alice, are mutant pterodactyls and an army of rabid zombies.

With a love of the material feeding his down to earth showmanship, Anderson fills the screen with many inventive action sequences, all set to a thunderous soundtrack.

Refusing to worry about what he clearly considers to be silly and inconsequential things, such as plot holes, Anderson powers over them at a frantic pace, dragging us along behind him.

It’s not hard to detect the positive influence of British cult comic 2000AD in the sardonic response to the gleeful showers of ultra-violence.

The principal creatives claim this will be the series finale. However Sigourney Weaver starred in the Alien series at forty eight years old, and this year Kate Beckinsale starred in the latest of her Underworld films at forty three. Jovovich is only forty one, so age is very much on her side.

And with this degree of adrenalin fuelled entertainment, I hope this isn’t the final chapter.

@ChrisHunneysett

Underworld: Blood Wars

Director: Anna Foerster (2017) BBFC cert: 15

Not quite alive but still stalking us, the fifth film in this vampire franchise fails to offer much bite.

Kate Beckinsale slips back into her latex and leather catsuit as the renegade warrior vampire, Selene.

She’s being hunted by vampires and werewolves who want to exploit the powers of young daughter in their eternal war.

The plot drips with blood, birthright and betrayals. Sacred swords are taken up against poison bullets in a landscape of castles and frozen waterfalls. There’s plenty of blood splatting video game action and the stunt team do sterling work.

The venerable Charles Dance aside, the men are deathly dull. Fortunately Lara Pulver is there it raise the spirits as Semira, a lusty, busty, bad ass who amps up the camp in her vamp.

Filming in Prague adds a suitably gothic feel and presumably helped keep costs down. This episode cost half as much as the previous one, and it shows in the consistently shoddy CGI.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

Love And Friendship

Director: Walt Stillman (2016)

Like TV’s Downton Abbey but with wit and considerably better breeding, this adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan is an elegant waspish joy.

There’s corsets for the ladies and mutton chops for the chaps. With a full carriage of wealthy suitors, impoverished friends and watchful servants, it’s a sharp eyed trot though the drawing rooms of nineteenth century stately homes.

Kate Beckinsale is ravishing in scarlet as the penniless widow out to secure a good marriage for herself and her daughter. As young Frederica an impressive Morfydd Clark suffers her mother’s machinations with determined grace.

Tom Bennett is marvellously silly as the stupid, wealthy and available Sir James Martin. Chloe Sevigny, Jemma Redgrave and Stephen Fry are swept up with the gossip, intrigue and social commentary as it flits between London the crisp English countryside.

Under the comic assault of Austen’s withering writing, the cast contrive to keep a straight face with far more success than I managed to do.

Though the selfish, arrogant and manipulative Lady Susan is a collection of unattractive traits, we warm to her because she is alarmingly funny, decisive, intelligent and not to be denied her pleasure because society frowns upon her doing so.

It would be intriguing to read Austen’s thoughts on the gender divide in 2016, a year in which it’s possible to argue this year’s best role for a fortysomething actress was written by herself 200 years ago.

 

@ChrisHunneysett