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The F*cking Black Sheep: Resident Evil (2002)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

RESIDENT EVIL (2002)

DIRECTED BY PAUL W.S. ANDERSON

Be real, who else met the recent head-scratching news of a RESIDENT EVIL reboot with a resigned gas-face and involuntary shoulder shrug? That’s where I’m at. Flabbergasted, really. Or at least, I might be if I wasn’t so indifferent. And not to make this one large disapproving rebuttal to the news, but how can a movie franchise whose qualitative returns have so obviously diminished each time out…over a 15 year period mind you…even be considered for full-fledged rehash? I get a page-one rewrite, but a film-one rewrite? This soon? Say what? Better yet, how can any property be worthy of a massive makeover less than one year after its latest entry was released? Remember RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER? Me either, but it apparently came out in 2016, and now we know the title was a bold and bald-faced lie. A f*cking franchise reboot already?! WTF!

Although we know the answer is money, it always is, I say we trace it back to the root of the EVIL. The original. 2002. Paul W.S. Anderson’s gormless videogame scourge of chintzy CGI, lame-brain plotting and barely passable acting. There’s no denying the shrewd marketing of swaying a tie-in gamer audience, a revenue stream that surely contributed to the unexpected longevity of the film franchise. There’s also no argument that RESIDENT EVIL is synonymous with its luminous star, Milla Jovovich, and honestly, the prospect of replacing her for a younger, likely less-talented Hollywood ingénue is and should be pretty damn galling to most fans. All in all, this is a bad idea.

But then again, so was the first film. Ladies, gents, as much as I loathe the idea of a franchise reboot, despite the capable James Wan producing, I must admit to you here and now why I think RESIDENT EVIL – and by proxy its venally stupid subsequent chapters – is one big F*cking Black Sheep in the first place!

Let’s start with the source material. Straight up, how many good videogame movies have ever been made? SILENT HILL? F*ck out of here! So by design, this is mere escapist entertainment meant to cull the eyeballs of 12-14 year old teens, little else. And it sort of shows. The story tracks the nefarious dealings of The Umbrella Corporation, a labyrinthine medical lair and home to The Hive, a subterranean laboratory where human DNA is being recombined to create flesh-starved, gore-parched ghouls. When a gaggle of scientists are trapped inside, we’re given an unbroken hour of emotionless sensory assault. Hordes of foaming zombies fumble around during a 60-minute ticking clock, chomp everyone in sight, and it becomes the unenviable task of our badass heroine Alice to quash the madness and restore order. That is all.

Now, to be fair, there are a couple of killer-cool parts in the film. The nasty elevator scene and the sick laser-cutting scene are two such examples. But cool doesn’t equal good, never has never will. No, the real problem with RESIDENT EVIL is that it never even attempts to transcend its vapid videogame tableau. While some of it was no doubt rad to look at in 2002, there’s neither a scintilla of believability nor a shred of emotional impact to any of the action that allows for much more than sheer spectacle. Seriously. Do you really care who dies in this movie, or any of its awful sequels? Even Alice, our primary conduit, isn’t that sympathetic a character. She’s sexily badass, sure, but multidimensional? Worth truly caring for? Hardly. Man, her fine ass could turn into a rabid zombie herself and it wouldn’t make much difference. At its core, RESIDENT EVIL is nothing more than a violent cartoon marvel meant to line the pockets of rich assholes that surely don’t need the money anyway. And now we’re about to do it all over again!

Per the spectacular, remember, CGI wasn’t all that advanced in 2002. Certainly not the way it is now. In retrospect, videogame graphics of today are actually far more advanced than the VFX used in the original RE movie. That sucks. If new videogames appear more realistic than the 15 year old movie, why even watch it now? Perhaps this is more relevant in terms of standing the test of time, but it seems the very technology RE is so dependent on has rendered the movie all but obsolete, at least in terms of visual realism. The sequels try to rectify this, but take for example the primary foe of the film, a 9-foot lizard-like monster with an enormously slapstick tongue that continues to grow, Pinocchio style. What a knee-slapper. This kind of creature would be laughed out of the theater had the flick not been based on a videogame. But since it is, it gets a pass?

Putting aside the videogame angle, when simply stacked-up as a comparable zombie horror film, RESIDENT EVIL is unabashedly derivative of everything from Romero’s original “Dead” series to all of their lame imitative offshoots. The RE zombies themselves lurch, lumber, stumble around with nary a sense of direction, and like the others are able to be killed by a single shot to the dome. This leads to an unintelligible barrage of bullet-fire throughout the whole film, done in a way that becomes all too repetitive by the final act. By contrast, Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER, released the same year, did far more to reinvent the physiological makeup of its zombified/infected ghouls…tone, tempo, temperament, etc. If RESIDENT EVIL is a zombie flick for kids, 28 DAYS LATER is a "zombie" flick for adults.

I really can’t tell why so many people like the original RESIDENT EVIL movie. It wasn’t appealing to me as a targeted teenager, and it damn sure hasn’t aged well enough to warrant any sort of classic status now, in 2017. Yes Milla Jovovich is a badass. She will be missed. Yes there is a scene or two of medium-cool (how about that f*cked-up dog up there), but really, how has this doltish cartoon of a videogame film spawned 15 years of increasingly poor sequels and now a fully unneeded franchise reboot? Then again, for a series of movies based on genetic manipulation, I suppose there’s no wonder why this F*cking Black Sheep of a movie has spliced and duplicated multiple times over. We the audience need to pull our own Alice and shut the corporately mandated mega film-franchise the f*ck down moving forward. If we don't, we're bound to end up like mindless zombies our daman selves!

GET RESIDENT EVIL ON DVD HERE

GET RESIDENT EVIL ON BLU-RAY HERE

Extra Tidbit: Do you like the original RESIDENT EVIL movie?
Source: AITH

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