Video Game Comes to Life in Resident Evil
- Tuesday, February 26, 2002
Resident Evil - R
Best for: Mature audiences who enjoy bloody sci-fi horror movies.
What it's about: Raccoon City is an underground complex run by the powerful Umbrella Corporation (a leading supplier of computer technology and medical products) and overseen by a controlling supercomputer known as the Red Queen. When an airborne virus escapes and contaminates the building containing the military technology, medical experimentation and bio-weaponry, the Red Queen shuts it down. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is an important agent sent down into "the hive" with other commandos (Michelle Rodriguez, Martin Crewes, Colin Salmon, Pasquale Aleardi and others) to find and contain the virus before it infects the rest of the world. What they discover is pure evil, as hundreds of undead zombies and a mutant creature try to kill the terrified crew.
The good: Resident Evil has an interesting premise, with several plot twists that give the film momentum. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat) directs his second video-game adaptation with a cool understanding of what makes the video game work. His "videogame films" have the same heart that the games have, and that's his secret: He knows what makes a videogame tick.
Anderson photographs his film with a "first-person" perspective (we follow the squad into a room from behind, as if we are part of the group), which is great for setting up horrific events and impending danger. The story relies on flashbacks to tie it all together, so the audience learns the pieces of the puzzle along with the characters (much like the game). The clock is ticking. Will the characters save the day and get out, or be buried with the zombies?
The acting is two-dimensional, but in this kind of story, who really cares? Viewers will be more concerned about who lives and dies than they are with the talent of the actors.
I liked Jovovich in this role. She does a good job as a female superhero who saves the day, much like Sigourney Weaver did in the Alien series. Resident Evil is basically brainless carnage, like the video game. Not surprisingly, Columbia Pictures has already "green-lit" the sequel, Resident Evil: Nemesis.
The not so good: Since the story is about chemically mutated zombies, the film has some gruesome, bloody and extremely disgusting scenes. We only see the Red Queen as a hologram of a little girl. I found it funny that a computer would give itself an English accent. The special effects are frightening (a laser cuts people into pieces as it sweeps back and forth in a tunnel, Doberman dogs are mutated killers, a slimy creature runs on ceilings and walls and, after eating people, morphs into another shape). Nearly every scene contains violence, while some of the "metal music" drowns out the dialogue. It was annoying.
Offensive language: At least 14 "F"-words, numerous scatological and anatomical words, slang sexual terms and religious exclamations.
Sexual situations: In a brief flashback scene we see a man and woman rolling around in bed kissing. Jovovich is partially nude, covered in certain scenes only by a shower curtain or a white paper gown that reveals brief upper and lower nudity.
Violence: Scene after scene of bloody and gory zombies attacking humans and the humans fighting back with gunfire, by breaking necks, and whatever else they can do. The zombies and other mutant creatures kill several characters. Several unsettling and scary scenes include an elevator car going into a freefall and decapitating a character; a laser beam that separates the body parts of several characters; and a large mutant creature that attacks a train car from the outside, tearing through the sides and grabbing Alice with its long tongue.
Parental advisory: Your teenagers may be familiar with the game on which Resident Evil is based and want to see this movie, but parents, this is a well-deserved "R" rating. The 17-and-older age limit should be heeded.
Bottom line: If you're into the sci-fi horror genre, you might enjoy this movie. It's a well-made film, but quite frankly, I found it to be a disturbing and morbid movie with a depressing ending.
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