Resident Evil is one of the most successful and one of the most iconic series of video games to have graced the genre of horror. Although very loosely based on the successful video games, the Resident Evil movies are also thought to be one of the most successful video game series movie adaptations, despite lacklustre reviews from critics and audiences who may not be fans of the Resident Evil games, who tend to receive the movies with much higher praise.
While the average theatregoer might not understand references and come away unimpressed, die-hard fans sometimes feel that the movies don’t quite make the mark but can happily appreciate the attempt. It’s not often that an adaptation can live long enough to spawn an entire undead film franchise, so there is definite praise to be given there as well.
That’s right, despite its numerous continuity errors and issues only most of the time only loosely following the games, Resident Evil is arguably one of the best movie franchises of all time and one of the most iconic franchises of zombie movies of all time.
Here are all the Resident Evil film adaptations ranked from worst to best according to IMDb, including the live-action movies and TV series, as well as the animated ones (not including any of the parodies, and also not in chronological order).
The most recent addition to the Resident Evil franchise, having been released July 14th this year, is this live-action TV series set nearly three decades after the initial discovery of the T-virus, the deadly virus, as an outbreak reveals the Umbrella Corporation’s dark secret that they have been dabbling in biological warfare in their lab for decades.
The Netflix TV series’ storyline is set on two parallel timelines that focus on the daughters of Lance Reddick’s Albert Wesker, Jade, and Billie as teenagers (portrayed by Tamara Smart and Siena Agudong respectively) as well as a decade later (portrayed by Ella Balinska and Adeline Rudolph respectively), the former being before the outbreak, and the latter being after.
With the worst IMDb rating of the franchise, the series has a surprisingly high critic score of 55% on Rotten Tomatoes as critics could appreciate the instalment as a standalone, while audiences gave it a 27%, fans of the video game franchise being even less impressed.
“Even if you’re not a RE fan, this is painful to watch.” – Jeremy P.
“This show might have the most annoying and insufferable characters that has ever existed. They literally built an entire show around obnoxious teenage brats. Absolutely the worst show I have seen in years. Netflix is insane to release something like this. They turned a sci-fi show about zombies into a high school soap opera for 12-year-old girls. They cut 99% of their original audience and gained nothing in return,” is the top comment on the show on IMDb.
Some die-hard fans reported not even being able to get past the first episode of the series, as it strayed so far from the games that they found it unbearable.
11. Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City (5.2)
One of the most recent movies, and a reboot after the franchise finale in 2016, this 2021 film was the first to attempt to portray the story of the games and the source material and succeeded in comparison to the action sequences and extravaganzas that the live-action Resident Evil movie series had managed to turn itself into.
Directed by Johannes Roberts, the film gained major points with fans of the games as it respects Capcom’s horror franchise with far more reverence than any of the other instalments but is criticized by the public for playing it ‘too safe’ and straddles the line between horror and an action film.
This instalment introduces the origins of popular game characters, Kaya Scodelario as Claire Redfield, Robbie Amell’s Chris Redfield, Avan Jogia’s Leon S. Kennedy, Tom Hopper’s Albert Wesker (who is still a good guy and ally for the moment), and Hannah John-Kamen’s badass Jill Valentine. It also follows the events of Resident Evil 2 intersecting with the events of the 1996 game by Tokuro Fujiwara, the first and original Resident Evil game that created an empire, exploring the secrets of the mysterious Spencer Mansion and the ill-fated Raccoon City in 1998.
The movie has a 30% Rotten Tomatoes score, and a 65% score from audiences who appreciate its truthfulness to the games and grossed US$41.8 million at the box office on a US$25 million budget.
This was the fifth movie in the live-action film series, starring the iconic Milla Jovovich as the main character Alice, as she does in all six of the live-action films. Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (as four out of the six are), the movie saw a 2012 release. In Retribution, Alice has been captured by the Umbrella Corporation and needs to escape an underwater biological weapons testing facility that uses clones in settings like Tokyo, suburban America and Russia, with the help of a resistance group.
One of the bigger highlights of this instalment of the series was the epic return of some of the characters from previous films such as Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine who had been turned evil by Umbrella Corporation, Michelle Rodriguez and Colin Salmon and popular characters from the previous movie, Boris Kodjoe’s Luther West. The movie also finally introduces popular game characters, the beautiful Bingbing Li’s Ada Wong and Johann Urb’s Leon Kennedy to the film franchise.
While the movie garnered mixed reviews, with a 28% Rotten Tomatoes score, and an audience score of 51%, it’s clear that fans enjoy the movie far more than critics. The film was a box office success, grossing US$240.2 million on a US$65 million budget.
9. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (5.5)
Meant to have been the last of the live-action movies, this 2016 film was once again both written and directed by director Paul W. S. Anderson. This instalment of the franchise picks up right after the events of Resident Evil: Retribution as Alice returns to The Hive in Raccoon City, where it all started, to end the zombie apocalypse once and for all. It’s here that the remaining survivors battle alongside Alice in one last fight against the Umbrella Corporation. This is where Alice realises that she herself is a clone of the daughter of the owner of Umbrella Corp, Alicia Marcus.
Once again seeing the incorporation of clones in the film series, The Final Chapter does an excellent job in bringing closure to the films, although it ended up feeling a little more like a Mad Max movie than a Resident Evil with a scene of Iain Glen out in the wasteland with an army of zombies, enslaving survivors.
As always, the film doesn’t have the best reviews with a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 41% audience rating. The movie was a massive box office success, grossing US$312.2 million on a $40 million budget, the highest total in the franchise’s history, fitting for the last movie.
8. Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness (5.7)
Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is the most recent addition to the animated family of the movie franchise and is an animated series that saw a 2021 release on Netflix. The streaming service series sees Leon S. Kennedy – voiced by Nick Apostolides – once again teaming up with Claire Redfield – voiced by Stephanie Panisllo – to investigate a zombie outbreak and the presence of biological weapons in Panamstan, as well as trying to protect the president from a zombie attack that the evil Umbrella Corporation is trying to sweep under the rug.
Surprisingly, the series has a higher critic rating than the audience members rating, with a 50% rating for the former, and a 39% for the latter.
7. Resident Evil: Afterlife (5.8)
This 2010 movie was the fourth film in the franchise and marked Paul W.S. Anderson’s return to the directorial seat for the remainder. The film begins with an epic invasion of a secret Umbrella facility by an army of Alice clones, during which Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker manages to temporarily remove Alice’s psychic powers.
After looking for her friends from the previous movie and not managing to find them, Alice joins forces with a group of survivors from a prison who all set out to reach a possible haven known as Arcadia, the same one that the survivors from the previous movie are looking for and turns out to be a deadly trap by the Umbrella Corporation.
This marks the first movie franchise appearance of Chris Redfield played by Wentworth Miller and the rise of Wesker to the ranks of the main villain. The film garnered a 21% Rotten Tomatoes rating and 48% from audiences while grossing US$300.2 million on a US$60 million budget.
Written by Paul W.S. Anderson but directed by Alexander Witt, Resident Evil Apocalypse is the second film in the franchise and a direct follow-up to the original movie. Released in 2004, Alice wakes up to find herself in a Raccoon City hospital surrounded by zombies after it seems they were unable to contain the spread of the T-virus from The Hive. Umbrella Corporation intends to use a nuclear bomb to erase any proof of their mistakes and try to contain the outbreak in Raccoon City.
Alice is helped by Jared Harris’ Dr. Ashford on the condition that she finds and saves his daughter, Angie Ashford, so they and other protagonists like Sienna Guillory’s Jill Valentine and Oded Fehr’s Carlos Olivera, and Mike Epps’ L.J. must make it out before the countdown reaches zero.
This is also the audience’s first time seeing the villainous Nemesis, and the devious Dr. Isaacs.
The movie has bad critic reviews, with a 19% Rotten Tomatoes score, but excellent audience reviews with a 60% from them. The movie, much like the rest of Anderson’s scripts, was a box office success, grossing US$129.3 million on a US$45 million budget.
5. Resident Evil: Vendetta (6.2)
This 2017 CG film set within the universe of the game is said to be a sequel and a prequel and isn’t suited to new viewers of the franchise who might be confused by its continuity. The events of the movie are said to take place between the events of the games, Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (which is often treated separately as it follows Ethan Winters) and is a closer fit to the action-driven blueprint of 6 as opposed to the claustrophobic horror of 7.
Featured in most of the animated movies, Leon Kennedy is once again on the hunt, this time for a former CIA operative Glenn Arias who has somehow figured out how to control biological weapons.
While the script is all over the place and the movie sometimes struggles to build momentum, it is widely considered an okay movie, with a 43% Rotten Tomatoes score and a 46% audience score.
4. Resident Evil: Extinction (6.2)
The third movie of the franchise was released in 2007 and was written by Paul W.S. Anderson but directed by Russell Mulcahy. The film finds its focus on a group of survivors from the events of Raccoon City who are travelling across the Nevada Desert heading for a place called Arcadia which is meant to be completely free of infection up in Alaska, and the survivors are looking for a safe haven.
This film also marks the return of the infamous Dr. Isaacs as he is trying to find Alice because of her psychic powers that have been developing in the last two movies, while running experiments on clones of her, as well as conducting medical experiments on the T-virus to make biological weapons that follow his commands (which understandably has catastrophic consequences for him).
Finding her old friends, Carlos Oliveira and L.J as well as a couple of new characters, this movie introduces Ali Larter as major game character Claire Redfield, as well as Albert Wesker for the first time.
The film was preferred by audiences with a 24% Rotten Tomatoes rating and a 58% audience rating and grossed US$150 million on a US$45 million budget.
Resident Evil: Degeneration was the first movie in the CG collection and was released in 2008.
The story told is of an initial outbreak in an airport, but the film is often criticized for looking and feeling far too much like a video game, its stiff animations resembling a cutscene. Although its greatest selling point is to bring Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield together, the story was not engaging enough to help distract from the lacklustre visuals.
Despite that, the film has a considerably high 67% Rotten Tomatoes score with its 57% audience rating trailing behind slightly.
2. Resident Evil: Damnation (6.4)
The second movie in the CG collection, Resident Evil: Damnation was the direct sequel to Degeneration which is extremely action heavy and sees Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong taking centre stage as the action stars they are in the games. In this edition, Leon must infiltrate an Eastern European country housing biological weapons and stop them from falling into the wrong hands.
Although the movie is said to be better than the average CG film, it is criticized for having uneven animation, stiff movement, clunky dialogue, and being too stretched out to keep audiences entertained. That isn’t stopping the film from having excellent reviews and being seen as the second-best Resident Evil movie, however.
With a shocking 100% Rotten Tomatoes score and an equally as impressive 70% rating from Audience members, this is one of the most highly rated Resident Evil movies.
1. Resident Evil (6.6)
It is honestly no surprise that the best Resident Evil movie just so happens to be the first film, as it set the stage for the whole series. Fans were incredibly hyped when the adaptation was first announced, and while a lot of people were happy with the adaptation, many were saddened by the movie only loosely be based on the popular video game franchise, which set the tone for the entire series of live-action movies.
Released in 2002, the movie debuted Jovovich’s Alice alongside the likes of Rodriguez, Eric Mabius’ Matt Anderson, Colin Salmon’s James ‘One’ Shade and double agent James Purefoy’s Spence who (spoiler) released the T-virus as a diversion so that he could steal and sell the biological weapon to the highest bidder. Amnesiac Alice and an Umbrella Corporation military unit attempt to contain the release of the T-Virus after going to The Hive, an underground lab, to investigate why the facility has gone offline. The facility’s AI and security system, the Red Queen, locks them in and tries to kill them, as her primary objective is to prevent the virus from escaping to the surface. It is revealed that before Alice lost her memory and became infected with a strain of the T-virus, she was a security operative protecting the Hive entrance.
The movie has a 35% Rotten Tomatoes rating and a 67% audience rating and was responsible for the birth of a whole film franchise. The film grossed US$103 million on a US$33 million budget.
With so much of the franchise explored without even grazing the surface of the true lore behind the Resident Evil games, with new and interesting viruses that have never been seen in film adaptations, fans still hope that there will be a director and production company brave enough to pick up the franchise and truly do the source material justice. Until then, Paul W.S. Anderson and the animated movies have done an amazing job of giving us a sneak peek into the amazing world of biological warfare.
Tell us, what is your favourite Resident Evil movie or series?