on 8 July 2012
"Evil Never Dies..... Apparently"
The majority of people who have seen Resident Evil will be aware of its video game background. Capcom's famous horror survival zombie game that has been actively updating the series with new installments for over 15 years. While this film isn't a necessity for the franchise, more of a solid money maker, it has not been made half-*rsed.. although they unwittingly created an abomination of a set of films with the release of several sequels. With a story that doesn't tie into any of the games, its creators have been pretty brave by coming up with an original story that manages to stand fine on its own, instead of using and abusing characters from the games (which the series would later go on to do). Clearly marketed at a younger audience despite its 15 rating, teenagers know the films connection with the games and pretty much just want to see some gory zombie action, something that Resident Evil is surprisingly scarce on..
"I shot her five times. How was she still standing? ...B*tch isn't standing now." (Characters)
5 years after playing a lead role the 1997 blockbuster 'The Fifth Element', Milla Jovovich surprisingly stars in RE, as Alice, a complete enigma suffering from the effects of amnesia. The role would prove another career booster as it guaranteed her about a thousand more paycheques for future franchise releases as well as gaining more roles. Thanks to her characters condition, she unravels as the film rolls on, starting off as a confused, introverted damsel in distress, watching on as her captors/protectors get annihilated, then regaining acrobatic skills and fighting styles later on, with a kick ass attitude. For me, Michelle Rodriguez steals the show with her devil may care mindset and direct personality as Rain, an assault rifle firing grease-monkey. Her role gives her the chance to display several kinds of emotions and offers up varying scenarios, playfully flirting one minute and unloading an entire clip into a zombie the next (and of course getting a death/zombie scene). Both Eric Mabius and James Purefoy, who feature throughout the film, seem play bitpart roles on the sidelines despite both having key story components, one tying into Alice's story, the other introducing a new character in Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Everyone else is practically expendable - cannon fodder ready to be eaten, lasered, torn apart or just disposed of for laughs (Kaplan, the stuttering techie for example). In fact, to make for a more tense, frightening atmosphere, the combatants are pretty much killed off in the space of 2 minutes where actors you thought were essential to the progression of the story, are suddenly cut out and literally fall to pieces.
"You're all going to die down here." (Plot)
You can't go wrong officially starting a film with a naked Milla Jovovic wrapped in a shower curtain.. But they show an office get filled with a chemical that kills all the staff and an elevator decapitation to sweeten the deal anyway. Jovovic awakens to find herself in a massive mansion soon raided by a team of swat like men and woman dressed in black jumpsuits with machine guns who proceed to take her with them (along with a random intruder who is handcuffed) on a mission into a secret doorway leading to 'The Hive'. On the way they pick up another randomer who like Alice, is suffering from amnesia. I really don't need to sell this story because it's cheap enough anyway. There must be about 3 casual conversations compared to the countless explanations of the situation, reporting and planning what to do next. People yell at each other for a bit and then finally explain what is going on - the team have been dispatched to enter the top secret research facility and find out why the places defence mechanism was triggered and why contact had been severed. The group trudge through offices, metallic hallways and iron works and end up getting wasted when they accidentally trigger a trap and get lasered to ribbons - which is pretty cool. With half the cast left, they discover the 'Red Queen' AI has been the cause of all the chaos and decide to shut her down. Big mistake as it causes more bad then good, killing lights, unlocking doors, opening cages...
"She bit me, man. She took a chunk clean right outa' me!" (Relation to Games)
Thanks to a brief introduction about Umbrella corporation and their base underneath the fictional Racoon City, it becomes clear that there will be some related content (Umbrella being responsible for the T-Virus and Racoon City being the setting for games 2 and 3 where said virus is unleashed). It has the dark science behind some of the creations seen in-game, such as the 'licker' and also the explanation behind undead dogs and humans via animal testing and experimentation. The commandos that explore 'the hive' however, are not the usual suspect, S.T.A.R.S but instead, employees of Umbrella Corp, sent to investigate a rogue VI (Virtual Intelligence). Of course there is gratuitous amounts of weaponry and gunfire, eccentric clothing (Alice) and the science facility containing it all in a confined space. Other than that and the abundance of zombies, there isn't anything from the games to get excited about... at least not in this one...
Manson Madness (Soundtrack)
Another shock upon release was that Marilyn Manson had produced the official soundtrack of the film, with his brand of instrumental, electro, pulsing, industrial rock. He does a grand job in making action scenes more exciting than they are (particularly when shot in slow motion). He manages to capture the feeling of dread when people are in danger, matching the gravity of the situation, be it during dissection, decapitation or down right epic fighting (see Alice Vs. Dog for cheese). The credits also feature the band Slipknot and their single from 'Iowa', 'My Plague' which is conveniently in-keeping with the theme. This over the end credits and the lazer scene are probably the best 5 minutes of the film.
It makes for a decent rental, lazy viewing where you don't have to take anything in or pay attention thanks to it fast pace, alright special effects and make up (but poor cgi) Admittedly, I may have viewed it in a more positive light after comparing it to its several sequels but still, credit where it's sort of due..