4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great film for a Saturday night,
This review is from: Resident Evil [DVD]  (DVD)
This film (and more generally the series of films) does seem to attract its fair share of opprobrium and, looking at the spread of ratings it's got here on Amazon, it's not even just a "love it or loathe it" film - it's pretty much fairly covered by every point on the spectrum. One fairly common theme of the "hate it" reviews appears to be that it offends devotees of the computer game from which the film series originated. Only having played RE on the PS1 once, I personally have no concept of whether the transfer to celluloid has been appalingly botched but, in any case, I think that it's a little unfair: there can't be many films that were able to faithfully reproduce the game/book/comic/etc from which it was derived. Similarly, another common theme is that it's some sort of failed pretender to the Romero throne. Again, I haven't seen any of his films (I did see the Dawn remake) so I am unlikely to be offended on that score either.
Oh well, enough of that. I am one of this film's fans. Let me say up front that I realise that it has some fairly fundamental believability problems. However, if you hang your belief on the peg at the door and accept the film for what it really /is/ and ignore the director/producer/actor waffle on the "Making of" documentary about how they loved playing the game and wanted to reproduce the experience in the cinema then there should be no reason to really hate the film. And what it really is, is a zombie flick for the 21st century. Pure, simple and unambiguous. It has all the elements. A dwindling cast of "survivors" are trapped or confined in an environment that is literally crawling with the undead. Cue heroics, treachery, an enormous body-count and an ordnance expenditure that would shame the US Army. It's not all guns, though and the more usual means of zombie-disposal - decapitation by means of a handy fire-axe, iron pipe or simple neck-twist - is preserved for the pleasure of the traditionalists.
The story is admirably supported by the gorgeous Ms Jovovich, complete in knee-length boots and a strappy red dress, who literally kicks ass. She is ably assisted by a SWAT team which includes Colin Salmon, and Michelle Rodriguez adds a little more killer-chick eye-candy to the ensemble. Eric Mabius and James Purefoy also tag along, but the film is really all about Mila and the zombies and that is, perhaps, where the film suffers a little. This central theme is diluted by all the trappings of the computer game that the director felt he had to squeeze in: the all-powerful Umbrella Corporation, the computer system gone bad, the theft of the zombie virus and some nonsense about genetically engineered creatures ("Lickers" I think? and in the second film the Nemesis creature) on the loose. I suppose that some viewers may also fret that there is a bit too much of the leading lady and not enough zombie peril, but I have always been of the opinion that you can't ever see too much of Mila Jovovich (and you can parse that statement however you like).
Overall, the film works for me. I would never call myself a zombie connoiseur but, with some minor reservations, this does its job very nicely. There are plenty of shocks and thrills, an elegant sufficiency of gore and you can play the "who gets it next and how?" game with your friends. Bargain! The zombies themselves are well executed (actually, that's quite a good double-entendre, isn't it?) and the setting is suitably claustrophobic: indeed, being set in an underground research facility ("The Hive") does lend the film an constricted, linear, escape-down-this-corridor feel to it that actually recalls the game series quite nicely.
Perhaps then that is where the film fails (in a small way): it's trying too hard to satisfy two different audiences, the gamers and the Romero fans, but ends up being a compromise and maybe (just maybe) the people who will get the most out of the film are those (like me) who fall into neither category.
I tend to be quite free and easy with my 5 star ratings but, in this case, I feel justified. This film is one that I frequently return to regardless that the shocks and surprises generally don't anymore and my copy will never find its way to a car boot sale.
"All the people that were working here are dead."
"Well, that isn't stopping them from walking around."