Published Dec 01, 2002With all the advance commercial hype, and the fact that "Resident Evil" is based on one of the more popular horror/survival videogame titles around, it seemed that maybe, just maybe, if the stars aligned just right, that "Resident Evil" could be the first movie based on a videogame that didn't suck major ass. Recent flops by Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and the computer animated "Final Fantasy" dropped expectations for this genre to all-time lows, lows that have never been high in the first place, with its best offering being "Mortal Kombat" (coincidentally directed by Anderson). Let's not even mention "Street Fighter," "Super Mario Brothers" or "Wing Commander" (despite Matthew Lillard's stellar performance).
Still, with the incredibly easy on the eyes, if not on the acting, Milla Jovovich ("The Fifth Element," "The Messenger"), and the sheer fact that the odds alone dictate that if they throw enough darts, one of them will it the mark, "Resident Evil" had a decent chance of being "the one." Unfortunately it isn't. "Resident Evil" unspools itself like a videogame, with little or no attention being paid to back story (or any of its stories in general), making the cardinal mistake of assuming that anyone who will see the movie has played the game. It's opening sequence, where a top secret virus is stolen from an underground facility (code named the Hive) and all its workers are subsequently killed by an insane computer (code named the Red Queen) to stop its spread, serves little purpose other than to shoehorn the viewer as quickly as possible into the carnage and gore that is soon to follow.
While these types of plot holes can be overlooked in videogames, where the viewer gets to cause the carnage and the thematic cut-scenes just break up the monotony, in a movie it is insulting. Regardless, with the death of everyone in the Hive, the rogue Red Queen and a deadly zombie-making virus on the loose, the Umbrella Corporation (the evil corporation responsible for all this) sends in a crack assault team (whose most notably member is Michelle Rodriguez, of "Girlfight" fame) to shut down the Red Queen, find out what went wrong and save the day. Along the way they pick up Milla, a kick-ass undercover operative who has lost her memory, and a few other survivors. Of course, all of this can only end badly.
The rest of "Resident Evil" plays out like an incredibly derivative version of "Aliens," "2001" and any of George A. Romero's "Dead" movies, be it "Day of ," "Night of " or "Dawn of ," complete with the surprise "Twilight Zone" twist ending, which ensures a sequel. Sure there is lots of gore, zombies and even a CGI supermonster to contend with, not to mention the inane dialogue and disappearing sub-plots of betrayal, industrial espionage and the like, but for a supposed horror movie, "Resident Evil" is light on the horror, in spite of its Restricted rating and monsters running amok. However, despite its myriad flaws and borrowed nature, "Resident Evil" is a perfectly acceptable, if overly redundant, horror movie that once again proves that they don't make horror movies like they use to.