The most successful movie franchise of all time (that's based on a video game) returns this month with Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth installment of the series that began with 2002's Resident Evil. As with all of the other films, Milla Jovovich stars in Retribution as Alice, a former security agent for the mysterious, all-powerful Umbrella Corporation, which released a nasty virus into the world that turns people into zombies, hulking behemoths, and off-key subway singers pleading for your spare change. (Okay, we made that last one up, but you get the idea... it's terrifying.)
Lucky for the world (but mainly just for Alice), the T-Virus also gave Alice superhuman abilities and a handy knack for dispatching everything the virus mutates... until Resident Evil: Afterlife, at least, when Alice was shot up with the antivirus and robbed of her superpowers.
Just in case you're looking for a quick catch-up on what's happened in the franchise so far, here's a reminder:
ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN ZOMBIELAND
The first four chapters of the franchise saw Alice escape from the locked-down Umbrella research facility that created the T-Virus (in Resident Evil), then escape from the walled-off Raccoon City where the virus first went public (in Resident Evil: Apocalypse). After discovering that her unique reaction to the T-Virus has made her one of Umbrella's most-wanted people, she goes on the run, saves a few survivors, kills some zombie birds with her psychokinetic powers, and then decides to take the fight to the corporation because, well... what would you do if you had psychokinetic powers? (Okay, maybe that wouldn't be our first choice.)
In Resident Evil: Extinction, Alice takes down the virus' creator with some help from a group of cloned versions of herself, then the whole Alice army goes after the chairman of Umbrella himself, Albert “I always wear sunglasses” Wesker (Shawn Roberts). He seemingly meets his end when Alice crashes their getaway plane into the side of a mountain, only to pop up again later on a floating tanker that's been posing as a refuge for survivors. Now all tentacled and super-powered thanks to a hefty dose of the T-Virus, Wesker takes on Alice and her pals Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller). Yes, they're related, and yes, they win. (Sort of.)
Alice decides that the whole “floating sanctuary” thing is actually a pretty decent idea (when it's not being used as a front for horrific human-experimentation projects), so she invites the world to join her on the tanker and live happily ever after... just as a fleet of Umbrella helicopters packed with soldiers shows up with orders to kill everyone.
And that's where the last film, Resident Evil: Afterlife, leaves off: with Alice, Claire and Chris standing amid a sea of former human-experiment subjects, staring at a squadron of heavily armed troops in armored aircraft, deciding whether it's too late to rescind that whole “come with us if you want to live” thing.
I THOUGHT YOU'D BE DEADER
Along with continuing the Resident Evil franchise, Retribution also features a host of actors from earlier installments of the series reprising their roles. While it isn't unusual for characters to return in future installments of a long-running franchise, their return in Retribution earns extra points due to most of them having died horrific deaths in previous films.
Among the returning characters seen in the latest Resident Evil: Retribution trailer is Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), who helped Alice escape from Raccoon City in the second film (Resident Evil: Apocalypse) only to sacrifice himself by driving a truck into a sea of zombies in the third film (Resident Evil: Extinction). There's also Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez), an Umbrella commando who got bit in the first film, turned into a zombie, and was killed during a high-speed train ride that involved some deadly creatures known as “Lickers.” (Because they have big tongues, that's why.)
Oh, and the trailer also features the return of Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), who was last seen in the second film riding a helicopter with the Raccoon City survivors – only to disappear somewhere when the helicopter crashed. The Retribution trailer shows Jill and some of the other characters wearing glowing, red scarabs which first appeared in Resident Evil: Afterlife and seem to put their victims under Umbrella's control. That's pretty much all we know about them at this point, though.
NEW FACES, FAMILIAR NAMES
Fans of the Resident Evil game franchise will be happy to know that a few more popular characters from the Capcom series will make their debut in Retribution, including Ada Wong (played by Li Bingbing), the awesomely coiffed Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb), and Barry Burton, who will be played by Lost actor Kevin Durand. (Which actually makes a lot of sense, since Barry's a lot like Martin Keamy, minus the latter character's homicidal urges and affinity for shooting teenage girls in the head.)
Chris and Claire Redfield, however, are not expected to return in Retribution.
THIS IS NOT THE END (UNLESS IT IS)
Retribution writer and director Paul W.S. Anderson – who wrote all of the previous installments and directed the first Resident Evil movie – has indicated that he plans to make a sixth movie if Retribution does well at the box office. The next film would likely be the finale of the series, or at the very least it would conclude Alice's story arc. (There's always the chance that the series could continue without Jovovich, who also announced that any potential sixth film would be her last.)
And that's really all you need to recall about the series up to this point, folks. From 2002's Resident Evil to 2010's Resident Evil: Afterlife, this brings you up to speed with everything that's anything in Alice's globe-spanning battle with the Umbrella Corporation.
Just remember: knowing is half the battle. The other half is shooting zombies in the head.