But while the Resident Evil games may have set new standards for thrills, suspense, and gore for video games, the movie really only succeeds in the third of these. Instead of creating real tension, it barrages you with false suspense and really loud, fast-paced techno metal (score by Marilyn Manson) to give the sense you should be scared. And when all else fails, gross the audience out. Worse, there's not a drop of comic relief in sight.
Fortunately for the games' fans, the plot isn't just repurposed story from the game, so there are some surprises. The movie is a prequel to the first game, setting up the tragic events of fabled Raccoon City, beginning in the underground experimental lab of international mega-corporation Umbrella - a place called The Hive.
Someone has stolen the lethal T-virus which turns living things into flesh-eating zombies along with its antidote, and unleashed the virus into the Hive, forcing the Hive's supercomputer - the Red Queen - to kill everyone inside. A group of commandos swoop in with Alice (Milla Jovovich) - an Umbrella security agent with amnesia - to shut the Red Queen down. But once inside the complex, they're soon battling the horrors the contamination left behind - zombie humans and dogs, a computer that won't let them shut her down, and a hideous mutant called The Licker.
To the filmmakers' credit, they got one thing right in casting Jovovich as the lithe and sexy Alice. Say what you will about models-turned-actress, but Milla took this badass female role very seriously - and makes it work way better than you'd expect. Not only does she get the shooting and martial arts down, she also nails some very menacing moments where she's able to stare down even the baddest of bad guys. And for the most part, director Paul W.S. Anderson (not Paul Thomas Anderson of Magnolia fame) certainly knows how lucky he is to have her, but he should have given her more to do. The best moments in the movie are of her whacking, kicking, and shooting; and there are really just three short fight scenes where she gets to strut her stuff.
Instead, we get way too much footage of the team fighting some of the most pathetic looking zombies you've ever seen. The zombies from the "Thriller" video are more frightening than these sluggish, made-up creatures. Not much scarier, the Licker is most chilling when you don't see it, barely catching small glimpses of it scurrying up walls; but it's almost silly in its few spotlight scenes.
While I certainly didn't come to Resident Evil with high expectations, I was actually disappointed. I wanted cool, scary zombies and zombie dogs. Instead I got pasty people and Dobermans coated in ketchup. I wanted slow-mo scenes of zombies being torn apart by machine gun fire. I wanted dark shadows and suspense. I didn't get any of these things. And I'm sure the games' fans will be let down that they don't get those essentials either.
Predictably, Resident Evil sets up for the obligatory sequel. But this installment is just plain un-dead on arrival.
No sense crying over spilled milk.
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th March 2002
Box Office USA: $39.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $102.4M
Distributed by: Columbia Tristar Pictures
Production compaines: New Legacy, Constantin Film Produktion, Davis-Films, Impact Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 82
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Screenwriter: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich as Alice, Michelle Rodriguez as Rain, Eric Mabius as Matt, Ryan McCluskey as Mr. Grey, Oscar Pearce as Mr. Red, Indra Ové as Ms. Black, Anna Bolt as Dr. Green, Joseph May as Dr. Blue, Robert Tannion as Dr. Brown, Heike Makatsch as Lisa, Jaymes Butler as Clarence, Stephen Billington as Mr. White, Fiona Glascott as Ms. Gold, Colin Salmon as One, Martin Crewes as Kaplan, Pasquale Aleardi as Rain, Liz May Brice as Medic, Torsten Jerabek as Commando 1, Marc Logan-Black as Commando 2, James Purefoy as Spence, Michaela Dicker as Red Queen
Also starring: Paul W S Anderson
As with his Formula One documentary Senna, filmmaker Asaf Kapadia cleverly uses archival footage to...
This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt...
Resisting the temptation to capitalise on the camp value of these characters, Channing Tatum and...
Wacky enough to make us smile but never laugh out loud, this screwball comedy harks...
A relentless onslaught of violent action, this movie is notable mainly because there's a woman...
First-time feature filmmaker John Maclean takes a strikingly original approach to the Western, creating a...
Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of...
Both shameless and shamelessly entertaining, this relentlessly boyish movie carries on exactly as the TV...