Review by Michael Jacobson
Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: September 7, 2004
coagulated. That’s impossible.”
blood doesn’t do that until you’re dead…”
used to wonder whether playing a video game character was considered a low point
for an actor, but judging by all the hoopla that originally surrounded the casting of Lara
Croft in Tomb Raider, maybe I was wrong…it’s not just a job,
it’s an adventure.
any game was ripe for movie material, it had to be Resident Evil.
Here was a story with a little bit of everything…flesh hungry
zombies, mutated attack dogs, wall scaling monsters, and heroes with plenty of
fire power. I’ve been a big fan
of the games for a few years now, and have seen many a precious hour
irretrievably sucked away by these frighteningly fun and maddening adventures.
W. S. Anderson is a fan, too, and his script and direction made Resident Evil
a film reality. His vision is
true to the spirit of the games, which I greatly appreciated, though he took
some creative liberties in the margins. The
key ingredients are all here: a
ruthless corporation whose experiments in genetic and viral research have gone
wrong, an underground laboratory accessed through a giant house, and of course,
lots of blood and mayhem.
company is called Umbrella, and as the film opens, one of their viruses is
deliberately released in the underground lab.
The master computer, called the Red Queen, effectively kills all of
Umbrellas employees in the lab and seals it off in order to prevent the spread
of the virus. No word as to whether
Red Queen also put fresh want ads in the employment section in the process.
the aforementioned house, Alice (Jovovich) is experiencing a birth-like
awakening in which she doesn’t remember anything, but we don’t get much time
for that old plot point as a crack team of operatives storm the house to gain
entry to the lab in order to shut down the computer and determine what went
they get in, they find nothing but horror and madness.
The Red Queen doesn’t like the idea of being shut down, for one, and
her defense system is quite capable. The
hall of razoring lasers is one of the best sequences, and I’ll leave it for
you to discover. It’s only the
start of their problems, though, as they soon realize that the virus has an
interesting side effect…namely, those former employees killed by the Red Queen
aren’t staying dead…
picture is basically a mindless romp and an excuse for action and gore galore.
Those who love the games, like me, will probably appreciate it more,
because the film strives for the same low-level base entertainment as them, and
more or less succeeds. I would have
had more fun with a controller in my hands and a personal stake in the outcome,
but, there it is.
roles are thankless for the actors…Milla Jovovich basically runs the gamut
looking pretty and scared, but gets to kick a little butt from time to time.
Michelle Rodriguez’ performance is borderline parody.
She spends the movie glowering through her eyelids and spouting tough
talk through gritted teeth. I guess
there’s not much you can do with a script that only calls for you to mow down
zombies are cool…a bit of a throwback to the great George Romero pictures, but
perhaps a little more formidable in speed and strength.
They may be dead, but they ain’t going down easy.
the results are a mixed bag. It’s
a film that replaces true horror and atmosphere with cheap thrills and tries so
hard to be fun that it ventures into spoof.
The characters are flat and exist only to kill or be killed.
In short, it’s a movie that plays like a video game…imagine that,
is a strong anamorphic offering from Columbia Tri Star…all the quality
you’ve come to expect from them. The
film is a flashy, colorful delight with extreme lighting schemes, all of which
make the maximum demands of a digital disc, and save for one or two softer
moments in the darkest scenes, this DVD is up to the challenge. Detail is always good, and the lighting effects create
intense contrast levels from time to time, which render with no bleeding or
distortion. High marks.
5.1 audio fares even better. This
is a loud, explosive soundtrack from start to finish…you don’t even get
through the opening credits without a sonic assault coming from every corner of
the room! The gunfire, machinery,
and industrial music all give the track punch and range, as well as plenty of
bottom end for the .1 channel. You
constantly hear noises in every direction, which adds to the spooky
effectiveness. Reference quality
from top to bottom!
This Deluxe Edition from Columbia Tri Star expands on their earlier release, starting with a group commentary by director Paul W. S. Anderson, DP David Johnson and actresses Jovovich and Rodriguez. It’s a fun listen; it’s clear they all had a good time making the picture. A new second commentary addresses the film's many special effects.
There are also
ELEVEN featurettes including a making-of documentary and
ones on zombie make-up, the score, set design and costumes, production notes, a
music video for “My Plague” by Slipknot, filmographies, and trailers.