After the release of Resident Evil: Death Island earlier this year, we’re now 11 movies deep into the Resident Evil movie library.
Since 2002, a slew of live-action and CG adaptations have been made of Capcom‘s largely fantastic survival horror series. You can count the genuinely good ones on a Licker’s tongue. But there’s an undeniable vapid charm to some of them, especially the ones that embrace the over-the-top theatrical cheese side of the games.
So here we are, ranking all the Resident Evil movies to date. Is there a clear winner in these 11 movies? Read on and see.
11) Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)
Picking the ”worst” Resident Evil movie might actually be more challenging than picking the best one. The bar has been pretty low for the franchise over the past two decades, but there’s something about how utterly limp The Final Chapter is that earns it the bottom spot over everything else.
Alice bows out in a half-hearted action trudge. Considering this is supposed end of a six-film saga, it’s hardly putting up the cash to make it feel like a true spectacle. We’d long since abandoned hope of this particular series getting its horror groove on. But The Final Chapter’s clunky, poor-quality action fare ends the series without a single redeeming feature.
10) Resident Evil Retribution (2012)
You’ll notice a theme with some of these movies in that the worst ones tend to misunderstand the established Resident Evil characters completely. Nobody says the likes of Leon, Claire, Jill, et al are the deepest of protagonists, but Retribution almost feels like a mockery of some.
Take Sienna Gullory’s Jill. Getting a second chance after being overshadowed by Alice in Apocalypse, she takes the chance and puts in an atrocious performance. She’s not alone (the actors portraying Ada and Leon especially whiff it), but at least we have one bright light in Kevin Durand’s fun turn as Barry Burton.
The plot is basically Aliens, with a cynical subplot involving a little deaf girl. But the biggest crime is a horrible amount of unnecessary exposition.
9) Resident Evil Apocalypse (2004)
Personally, I like Resident Evil Apocalypse the least of all Resident Evil movies. Probably because it was the first of them to take the established characters and make them background wallpaper for the Excellent Adventures of Alice.
It’s also the movie that takes one of the franchise’s most iconic monsters, makes it look good on screen, and then subsequently misses the whole point of it being an unthinking, unfeeling killing machine. There’s an attempt at making it a bit Terminator 2 instead of The Terminator, but the result is closer to T3.
8) Resident Evil Damnation (2012)
While none of them are truly terrible, the third CG Resident Evil film is the weakest of the bunch.
It reunites Leon S. Kennedy and Ada Wong, but it’s a bit of a dreary reunion as a large portion of the movie is a dreadfully dull slog. Its Eastern European flavor doesn’t seem to help its visual appeal, and it would be a wash if it weren’t for an exhilarating finale featuring Lickers and Tyrants.
7) Resident Evil Afterlife (2010)
Look, forget what I said about established characters so far in this list; Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield might be the most off-casting depiction of them all. They put him in prison too — a choice so on the nose, it might as well have been in your pores.
The movie is a cut above the stuff that comes after, but it’s clear this is where the series really starts to slide downhill without any handholds. The idea to have the survivors hole up in a prison is a pretty cool premise (it even gets ahead of The Walking Dead on this), and there are the likes of Kim Coates to really sell things, but primarily, this is another forgettable entry.
6) Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)
Johannes Roberts has made genuinely upsetting and nerve-wracking horror in the form of The Strangers: Prey At Night and 47 Meters Down. I was pretty optimistic about him taking on a Resident Evil film—especially the first in a post-Alice world.
It’s undoubtedly the most accurate live-action adaption to date, but it manages to be a tad flippant about it. To this day, I don’t see why Roberts ever agreed to combine the stories of the first two Resi games in a movie that doesn’t even lance the boil of a two-hour movie. With that in mind, its pacing feels frustrating casual, yet it also speeds through several potential big beats or omits them entirely.
I appreciate the attempts to keep things in line with what we know though, and some of the changes deserved better than the vitriol they got (Avan Jogia is a fantastic Leon when compared to literally any other film version). If nothing else, it gave us one of the boldest needle drops in film history with that use of Jennifer Page’s Crush.
5) Resident Evil Death Island (2023)
The most recent Resident Evil movie gets the most notable game protagonists together in the same place. Jill, Chris, Leon, Rebecca, and Claire all star in this attempt to Avengers Assemble Resident Evil.
That’s what elevates it this high, really. Like all the CG movies, the plot is stock standard stuff, but the cast and some cool monster moments do the heavy lifting.
4) Resident Evil Vendetta (2017)
Just Leon, Chris, and Rebecca in this one, but is this perhaps the most quintessential Resident Evil movie ever?
It’s slightly to its detriment, but if you love the big daft nonsense of the game series, then Vendetta has absolutely loads of it. A Breaking Bad joke five years past is shelf-life, and Leon going to town on a motorcycle (literally and metaphorically) are the kind of highlights we have here that tell you just how goofy it is.
3) Resident Evil (2002)
Before things got massively out of hand, Paul W. S. Anderson’s original Resident Evil adaptation stood firm as a tentative step into the world of the shadiest Umbrella this side of a Mafia swimming pool.
It will always have the sublime visual moment of the laser grid sequence, and the soundtrack, while tainted somewhat these days, featured some absolutely cracking nu metal goodies and a sublime remix of Method Man’s Release Yo’ Delf.
This entry has a menace and meanness that I don’t think we really got much of in the sequels. It revels in its simplicity, and as such, it’s always a watchable action-horror movie.
2) Resident Evil Degeneration (2008)
I must admit I have a bit of a soft spot for Degeneration as it reunites Leon and Claire, but it has other merits.
There are some genuinely good-looking moments in here, and some terrible ones too, which is par for the course with the CG movies and the live-action ones. The connection between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 makes for an interesting hook, even if it’s now effectively been retconned with the Resident Evil 4 Remake.
Anyway, where’s my Leon and Claire reunion game, Capcom?
1) Resident Evil Extinction (2007)
More than any other franchise, I think the Alice Saga of Resident Evil is one where your favorite and most loathed entries could be feet apart in quality and probably the opposite way around from other people’s opinions. That speaks for the generally low bar set by the movie adaptations (though the TV shows manage to stink at a whole new level).
So Resident Evil Extinction could just as easily be at the other end of the list in different hands. Still, it’s in mine, and I believe Resident Evil Extinction is as good as it gets in Resident Evil movies. A Mad Max/Day of the Dead knockoff takes the franchise into an interesting, true post-apocalyptic direction in the dunes of Nevada. The crow swarm scene is among the best spectacles in the series.
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