Resident Evil (2002)
Director: Paul Anderson
A team of tough commandos infiltrate The Hive (an underground laboratory) to terminate a whacked out computer (The Red Queen). But to their grand surprise, they encounter a horde of un-dead scientists who have mutated into flesh-craving zombies due to the unleashing of the “T” Virus. LET THE MAYHEM BEGIN!
As you all know, this flick is based on the popular Capcom video game “Resident Evil”. Although the film is a prequel to the game and doesn’t showcase any of its characters (no Jill Valentine in the house), it still sports many of its elements: the mansion, the un-dead dogs (very well done), the zombies, The Umbrella Corporation, the “licker” beast, Raccoon City and a hint about “Nemesis” (who will be explored in the sequel).
Having played and dug the first two Resident Evil games didn’t interfere one bit with my enjoyment of its exhilarating cinematic counterpart. I really didn’t expect or want to see a frame-by-frame rendition of the game, I just hoped for a good old time at the movies and that’s exactly what I got. Talk about a relentless, action-packed trip! The flick starts off with a loud bang and doesn’t let up until its way kool “open for a sequel” ending. I’m talking vicious flesh-hungry zombie attack sequences, mucho exciting gun play, one particularly tense sequence involving a deadly laser beam, an awesome scene with slimy zombie dogs chasing scantily clad Milla Jovovich (Alice) around and one hell of a badass licker beast causing fun (for us) havoc. The movie just never stopped delivering the bloody goods and much like the video game, we get to follow the characters as they overcome crazy obstacles over crazier obstacles to try to get out of the mess alive. FUN FREAKING TIMES!
Which leads me to the film’s biggest flaw: its characters. Since the action moves so fast and the acting is mostly about reacting to intense shite going on, there isn’t much room left for character development. The soldiers (or whatever they are) are never properly introduced (they just barge into the action and start kicking that bootie) and the dialogue is mostly used for necessary exposition about the situation. Actually, there are three dudes in here with brown hair and at times I got confused as to who was who. A minute or two should’ve been taken to explore the players more extensively early on. In consequence, I never really cared about anybody but Alice (Jovovich) whose drop dead gorgeous looks, compensated for any lack of depth she might have had. Another small problem I had with this un-dead puppy is that on occasion, characters would pop up in a setting (alone) with no explanation as to how they got there or why they separated themselves from the group. That would bother me for about half a second but then gnarly action would kick in and distract me away from the specific plot hole. I’d get all riled up, sit on the edge of my seat and forget all about it. Clever, clever…
On the characters' plus side, I did appreciate the light whodunit as to who unleashed the virus. A few characters surprised me here as to their true nature and that got me somewhat involved on a human level (I said "somewhat"). I also dug the whole amnesia subplot which was slapped in there in regards to the Alice and Spencer (Purefoy) characters. Seeing both characters (especially hot-to-trot Alice) slowly remembering who they were while regaining their combat skills, put a grin on my amused face. Personally, I can’t think of a more satisfying image than Milla Jovovich in a shorter than “Gary Coleman” red skirt snapping all kinds of zombie necks and kicking the crap out of various beasties. Man, I love tough females, they really crank my dial!
Now I’ve heard many voice their concern in regards to the “Matrix-like” fight sequences and the overuse of CGI in the film. Well, let me offer you some comfort by saying that the only “Matrix-like” shot in this celluloid nightmare involves Milla kicking that freaking demon dog in the head (as seen in the trailer) and that the CGI is actually mostly subtlety used to enhanced some of the more basic visual effects (like the zombies). Sure, the “licker” creature looked a tad CGI in certain scenes, but overall, he came across as pretty bad (in a good way) to me and I loved seeing him go haywire. All that to say that it’s not as tacky as you might think.
Overall, "Resident Evil" entertained me gangbusters and gave me exactly what I needed to start my day on the right foot. It’s basically a roller coaster of mean guns, rotten zombies, hot babes and effective boo scares. Wrap all of that up in flashy/creative shots, kool high-tech settings (loved the mirrored-like hallway) and a sharp score booming in the background and you get an all-around attack on the senses. If that description doesn’t appeal to you, stay away and rent some British period piece instead. Others will have a blast and a half! Undo your seat belt and get ready to hit the windshield. The un-dead are back on the big screen!
It isn’t Fulci/Romero gory but there's still enough sauce to please. We get a way slick beheading, cut off fingers, a man cut to little pieces, bullet hits (some in zombie heads), snapped zombie necks and nasty zombie bites. It isn’t a gore-fest, but there’s enough here to please.
Milla Jovovich (Alice) looks so fine and handles her dialogue well. I bought her as an action heroine and relished every close-up that she had. Her dreamy blue eyes captivated me. What a turn-on! Michelle Rodriguez (Rain) pouts and acts pissed off, that’s pretty much all there is to say about her. She’s so cute when she’s angry though. Eric Mabius (Matt) does well with what he’s given. James Purefoy (Spencer) does good things with the light substance his character has. Colin Salmon (James) and Martin Crewes (Chad) both have brown hair and both have thin parts. Who’s who here?
T & A
We get Milla Jovovich in that lovely skimpy red dress and if you don’t blink, you might catch the side of one of her tits and that now famous “twat shot”. Yes, she teases, nothing wrong with that. I’d rather be teased by Milla than by Eric Mabius (who keeps his shirt on by the way ladies). We also get quick glimpses of Milla having sex with someone else, but the shots are too flashy for us to see much of anything.
Anderson does what he does best: give the film a very stylized and polished look. I loved his use of colors/lighting, how he delivered the dreamlike flashbacks, the tension which he injected in some scenes, the zany shots, how he milked the impressive settings for all that they were worth, his use of slow motion and his use of silence. He also goes nuts on the Milla Jovovich close ups (thank you), the computer camera POVs (way slick) and the boo scares (he got me a few times). The film is a visual treat.
We get a mean, edgy score by Marco Beltrami and chic freak Marilyn Manson that kicked my ass all over the theatre. I got to get the CD for this one.
When I got out of our critic's screening room, the "studio publicist" (a 40-something distinguished looking woman) perceived the big smile that I had on my face and actually said: “You didn’t really like this poor film, did you?” I found it odd that a studio rep would badmouth a flick that she’s supposed to be pushing, but that’s just me. I looked at her and said: "Yes, I did, I love stuff like this!"
Now I don’t expect the more highbrow or pretentious filmgoers to enjoy this tornado of horror fun. The movie wasn’t made for them, it was made for us. Fervent gamers and horror buffs will get a few kicks out of "Resident Evil" if they let themselves enjoy it for what it is and not let what they think it should’ve been, get in the way. No, George Romero isn’t doing it, no, it isn’t exactly like the freaking game and no, Paul Anderson isn’t loved by the masses. My advice: LET IT THE FUCK GO AND ENJOY THE DAMN MOVIE! I for one am anxiously waiting for the sequel. PAUL ANDERSON ROCKS! And you can quote me on that…
George Romero was initially supposed to write and direct "Resident Evil" but Capcom didn’t like his script. You can find the screenplay here.