Scifi Horror
Resident Evil
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Dir: Paul Anderson
Star: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2002
Format: DVD R1
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The Umbrella corporation is a vast organisation that derives its profits from illegal research into genetics, viruses, and weapons research. It has a huge lab facility called the Hive secretly buried miles bellow Raccoon city. Here they are developing the T-virus the ultimate biological weapon. However something has gone wrong the Hive's AI has sealed the entrances and killed all of the facility's personnel. A crack commando team has been sent to investigate but they soon find out that the rogue A.I. is the least of their problems.

If you know the computer games that the film is based upon you will know you are in for a massive zombie beat em up, and you will not be disappointed. Paul WS Anderson (so suddenly he's added the WS) delivers another computer game conversion and again proves his expertise in do so. The film is fast paced slick and extremely stylish all hallmarks of his previous work like Mortal Kombat, Soldier and Event Horizon. The fact that this film is so cool and the action so exciting is a testament to his skill (just check out the fight against the dogs). This could have so easily gone the way of many computer game conversions, but mainly thanks to this massive influx of style things are pretty good.

Zombies they groan, they are all rotten and a funny grey colour, they move slowly, and they like eating people. Yes George A. Romero has a lot to answer for. In his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead he defined the future direction of the zombie movie, and Resident Evil falls neatly into the mould. But maybe this is not as surprising as you'd think because the Resident Evil computer games were based upon Romero's Night of the Living Dead trilogy. So by making this film things have come full circle.

The special effects make up for the zombies up is rather good, however the CGI effects not quite so. The end result is more than acceptable, the zombie dogs are the highlight, but the monster later in the film is pretty disappointing. The human cast are also a mixed bag with Milla Jovovich being superb (great costume, at last an action heroine in a dress!) proving she is not just a pretty face. Michelle Rodriguez is also very good although she becomes more like a female version of Ice T is each film she does. Also worth mentioning is Martin Crewes who provides the best male character in the film. The disappointments come from Eric Mabius and James Purefoy who for the most part are a little to similar and generate little impact.

Ok so its fast paced, well shot and contains some great action, but there is a major downside and this is the almost complete lack of inventiveness. The plot of the film is instantly predictable once the main characters appear and the plot twists are so obvious that you can probably guess them before watching the film. It owes a lot to Romero's work as I have already mentioned but even more to John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars which has a remarkably similar story all be it that this is better done. This is a shame as with better writers ( Paul Anderson proves he is a brilliant director but a mediocre writer) and a few new plot twists this could have been even better.

Resident Evil is a good film. It is a stylish action packed zombie movie. Fans of this sort of thing will not be disappointed, however other movie goers may leave feeling that they have seen it all before. The cast and effects are variable but the pace never lets up and there is no doubting that this is an effective piece of pulp cinema. The ending is spectacular, but unfortunately follows the recent Hollywood trend of preparing things rather obviously for a sequel. Overall Paul Anderson delivers another superior computer game conversion, lets just hope that next time he finds some original writers to do the film justice.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Logan's view:

Lets face it. In the last 12 months or so we have been subjected to some pretty dire interperatations of some very successful and popular video games. We suffered the pneaumatically enhanced acrobatics of Tomb Raider which was a hideous exercise in brand marketing and advertising. Hot on the heels of that of course was the entirely computer animated Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within which after you get over the initial awe of the CGI is not especially impressive. One of the only really successful transitions in fact of a video game to movie is Mortal Kombat and it's hard to believe that it was 7 years ago. After his good work and success on that film it was reassuring to note that Paul Anderson was the screenwriter and director of this film as well. With him on board it was sure to be good. Unlike some of the other video game transitions, Resident Evil doesn't play around too much with the established mythos surrounding the game and relates a story based on the game but which in fact acts as a "prequel" to the first game. The film covers the events before Team "B" get to the mansion and the mass infection of Raccoon City.

As the film bases itself around the game like this, there is little room to manouvere in terms of story and the plot is pretty much written in stone so there isn't much to challenge you as the film unravels/plays out like the game. "Formulaic" is perhaps a little harsh, as is "monsters by numbers" to describe the film because the whole "zombie" sub-genre is somewhat staid thanks to the likes of George A. Romero. There just isn't much left to do with that sub genre as it was never particuarly versatile, so anything that could be done has already been done. In that sense, yes. Resident Evil could be described as predictable and in places a little cliche. But, bearing that in mind, this film doesn't pretend to be something that it isn't and runs it's course quite happily as a horror / action movie. The story stays within the realms of the games and throws the audience ample amounts of what it wants on the screen; Zombies, gore, blood, fights, action and not forgetting Milla Jovovich in a red mini-dress.

A mixed cast put in some reasonable performances in largely unchallenging roles. Besides occasionally exposing herself and looking mighty fine in a wet, red mini-dress (in a butt kicking kind of way of course), Milla Jovovich is ostensibly robotic and unemotional as Alice. She has little range in terms of physical acting and despite some admirable fight scenes (some of which aren't particuarly well edited) and of course looking quite nice, she ambles through her role but is still an enjoyable watch. James Purefoy is good but in this role he is "playing" secondary to the girls so has little oppurtunity to captivate the audience but like many of the characters in this film there is no development and only one place they can go. The ever pouting and sneering "eye acting" talents of Michelle Rodriguez are interesting to say the least as she lays waste to anything with blue skin or generally "undead". She is effective in this role but after an impressive start to her career with Girlfight and The Fast & The Furious it would be nice to see her career start moving and for her to take on some meatier roles and certainly something in a leading capacity. Some good supporting performances by Eric Mabius, Martin Crewes and the increasingly popular Colin Salmon help hold everything together quite nicely. I should also point out the uncredited cameo appearance by popular British thesp' Jason Isaacs who manages to crop up at some point in a Paul Anderson movie.

The film roars along at full tilt and doesn't stop to smell the roses along the way. The photography is generally good and in places is quite stark in appearance as raw light is bounced around a largely unblemished and purely clinical enviroment. The reflections of the characters are coldy reflected by the ever watchful cameras of the "Red Queen" adding to the sinister quality of the facility's A.I which is a little reminiscent of HAL in 2001. The cold, calculating and creative means of terminating all life within "The Hive" by the "Red Queen" at the start of the film is pretty horrific. But the real fun begins when the "Sanitation squad" enter the facility and the Red Queen subsequently begins playing with them. The automatic defence system protecting the A.I is chilling and horrifically effective leading to some impressive visuals even if they are reminiscent of The Cube. Good use is made of reflections and refracted light throughout the film to achieve some eerie effects although the flashback scenes are generally high contrast and very grainy. The large amount of gore and effects not to mention the blood is likely to appeal to most horror fans and the superb make up effects are both stunning and chilling. Some of the extensive make ups are truly gruesome and look insidiously macabre, the film is rife with horrific visuals many of which are quite disturbing but wholly effective as they provide some of the creepiest zombies to grace your screens, not to mention the terrifying images of the undead dobermanns which are likely to stick with you after the film finishes.

Okay so this ultra-violent adaptation from the video game isn't a top flight horror movie, it works to an extent as an action movie but it has too much gore to be just that. The soundtrack is full of loud and sometimes abbrasive music which is due primarily to the collaborative fusion of Marilyn Manson and Marco Beltram and combined with the tumultuous bloodthirsty clamourings of the undead it certainly brings something unique to the overall style of the end product. Paul Anderson as you would expect, presents a slick and stylish action / horror movie which quite nicely exploits the core elements that made the Resident Evil games so popular...... which was of course excessive blood letting and gore creating a movie which is so superbly graphically violent that it is appealing to the action and horror movie fans alike.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Sharp crisp image, very effective
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Excellent soundtrack, very loud though
Features Excellent but occasionally rambling Commentary by director Paul Anderson, stars Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez and producer Jeremy Bolt
Cool Animated schematic menu
Theatrical trailers for Resident Evil, Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, Men In Black2, XXX, Spiderman, Formula 51 (51st State)
Selected filmographies for director & cast
Very lively, energetic music video for "My Plague" by Slipknot as featured in the film
Series of 5 very interesting behind the scenes featurettes
Verdict Very cool disc, plenty of extras and well compiled. The featurettes are great and include interviews with cast, crew and Marilyn Manson and Marco Beltram who wrote the music for the film.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home