Reel Toronto: Resident Evil Sequels
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Reel Toronto: Resident Evil Sequels

How many Resident Evil movies have there been, again? Regardless, a bunch of them were filmed in Toronto.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

Toronto has hosted plenty of bad video game movies and plenty of crappy sequels.

Much as with Saw, our city has become the home base of a never-ending series of mediocre-but-succesful movies called Resident Evil: [insert single, ominous word here].

The films have provided steady work for local film crews, not to mention star Milla Jovovich and director Paul W.S. Anderson. (Not only should this Paul Anderson not be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson, you might see him as P.T.A.’s precise opposite. Whereas P.T.A. produces ambitious, challenging, flawed masterpieces, P.W.S.A. is more about, well, blowing stuff up and zombies and shit.)

We previously explored Resident Evil: Apocalypse. This time out we thought we’d look at the more recent Afterlife and Retribution chapters in the series. Though much of the work is done at Cinespace and other local studios, they do occasionally venture out to find parts of our city they can blow up.

It’s hard to keep them straight. Does Afterlife come before or after Retribution? How do any of them take place after Apocalypse? We think it’s in Afterlife that one of the film’s most important settings is this prison, played very obviously by U of T’s Robarts Library. There’s a joke or two to be made, but you can crack ’em in the comments if you see fit. It’s not the school’s proudest architectural moment, is what we’re saying. (Though, according to Wikipedia, Robarts contains 4.5 million “bookform items”—which, you have to admit, is a lot of bookform items!)

Here it is, overtaken by zombies (though the rare book library seems OK for the time being)…

…and here’s the roof. We do like the idea that after we all get nuked, Fort Book will be the only thing left standing.

At the opposite end of the scale—geographically and architecturally—on the St. George Campus, this is the handsome Leslie Dan Pharmacy building, always a pleasure to look at, just south of Queen’s Park.

They turned those cool pods inside into some kinda control centre.

And even further afield, we recognize this bit, the prison interior, as the Scarborough Campus’s Meeting Place, because we totally just saw it in our last column about Total Recall. These sci-fi movies are like porn for fans of Toronto brutalist archiecture.

This airfield is apparently out in Oshawa (with some CG assistance)…

…but when this character walks out to the beach it’s even further east, at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

The finale is on this ship, which was apparently down by the Port Lands, again with a lot of CG background work.

Retribution opens with the same setting. This time it was just filmed on the roof of the studio, as you can see from this (very) amateur footage of the shoot.

This bit, with the Soviet-branded floor, was actually shot at one of the city’s de-facto industrial sets, the Hearn Generating Station, which we visited during the shoot.

You can see a bit more of it here.

And, as in Total Recall and a billion other post-apocalyptic flicks, here’s Lower Bay Station, mocked up as a Moscow transit stop.

Some folks in Riverdale got all worried when they filmed some of the big explosions. You’ve got to shoot ’em just so, so they look cool in 3D, see?

As in Apocalypse, they want back to the burbs to film a zombie attack. They filmed in Brampton last time, and we suspect this McMansiony hell was shot there as well.

You don’t need zombies. As soon as you see this you know you’re gonna see something scary indeed.

To date, Retribution is the series coup de grace. Opinions differ on how successfully it accomplishes its, um, artistic goals. The city’s most astute arts arbiter, the Toronto Sun, thinks it’s the best of the series (“Anderson’s most accomplished filmmaking in any franchise or genre”), while the party poopers at The Grid think it’s “prime Razzie material.” Judge for yourself if you like, but the Razzie nominations are out next week so, fingers crossed.