Resident Evil was the coolest and most original video game ever made, period. I mean, c'mon! It had zombies, giant spiders, crazy lizard beasties and all sorts of other foul creatures, plus you had to shoot the zombies in the head, just like in the movies!! I loved that game, and played it to death, and then...well, I discovered sex, drugs, and booze and realized I needed to get out more often.
Rez Evil still holds a place in my ticker, however, and the announcement of the film's production had me grinning from ear to ear. When they announced it would be helmed by George A. Romero, I jumped for joy! Then, when Romero was "let go" and director Paul Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Soldier) I recoiled in fear, until I also remembered that he directed the awesome Event Horizon, so I was eventually left with feelings of cautious optimism.
I am glad to say, though, that Resident Evil turned out okay. The film adheres fairly closely to the source material, combining bits of the first game, it's sequel Codename: Veronica, and even a touch of Nemesis (or what little I remember of it), so fans will be very happy.
The film opens with an accident in an underground laboratory that houses hundreds of scientists who work for the Umbrella Corporation, a top-secret research agency. A chemical weapon is released into the air ducts and the entire place is quarantined, killing all of the occupants, and it's up to an elite force (ain't it always?) to find out what went wrong. A subplot of amnesia, espionage, and sabotage serve as window dressing for a lot of eye popping special effects, zombie attacks, and more, however what is missing is precisely what made the game so damned cool, and that's gore!
Now I understand that Resident Evil is aimed at a teen audience, but the film’s rated R, so one expects a little more than some occasional splatter when we're dealing with zombies, monsters, and automatic weapons! Most of the violence happens off-screen, with quick cuts occurring just before someone loses a head, or a guy get's dragged away by the undead. I was actually pretty shocked at how PG-13 it all was. If it wasn't for the two side-boob shots of Jovovich and the occasional use of the word “fuck”, this movie could have very well been PG-13! Color me jaded, but I want more red stuff from my survival horror films.
Other than the lack of violence, Resident Evil is pretty entertaining. There are a couple of scenes that'll make you jump, some nice action bits, and, of course, the very hot Jovovich in various stages of undress. I can't say I loved it, but I would be lying if I totally trashed it either because I found myself tapping my toe to the techno beat while the zombie ass-kicking commenced, and I appreciated Anderson's faithful adaptation of the game itself, with many familiar rooms and locales that avid gamers will instantly recognize. People who did NOT play the games, however, may be rather perplexed by the whole thing.
The film comes to DVD courtesy of Sony, and features a decent selection of extras including:
- Commentary with director, Anderson, producer Jeremy Bolt, and stars, Jovovich and Rodriguez
- A fairly comprehensive Making-of (27 mins)
-Scoring Resident Evil featurette with Manson & Beltrami
-Set design featurette
-Zombie Make-up tests
-The film’s theatrical trailer.
With the exception of the nearly 30 minute making-of, the featurettes are of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them variety, with only the entertaining commentary proving to be the only extra of any real substance. Lord knows Sony will milk this cash cow dry, so expect several special, uber-special, and super-duper-uber-special editions down the road. If you’re a fan, you’ll buy them all; the rest of you, however, should give this one a rent first.