As any video game purist who has played a Capcom’s Resident Evil series can profess, during the course of the game he or she has most definitely thought that the game would make one hell of a good horror film. The key aspect to such an idea is that it would make a good (even great) movie, if the project were to be put in the right hands.
Resident Evil was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson from a story he co-wrote with Alan McElroy. This film follows in the footsteps of many video game to movie translations, the most notable of the bunch being movies like Tomb Raider and Mortal Kombat (whom Anderson directed as well).
Generally speaking, when a movie attempts to stick to the storyline presented in the game, viewers see it as being more appealing and intriguing. When it doesn’t, it is often doomed to failure a la the Super Mario Brothers and Double Dragon films. For all that it’s worth, Resident Evil has no such parallel with the storyline as the game of the same name.
Whereas the first installation in the Resident Evil video game series focused on paranormal activities at a mansion on the outskirts of a certain Raccoon City, the movie centers on a mishap at a secret laboratory (a lab of the Umbrella Corp.) with the release of a deadly virus threatening to wipe out all of mankind.
At this point, the tradeoff between following video game script and creating a Hollywood-like script is understandable if, perhaps, Anderson wanted to make it viewable to those who did not follow the video game. But, after a chilling first few minutes in which a deadly virus wipes out all the personnel in the lab and the doors lock, preventing any escape, this sci-fi screamer turns into a generic bloodbath that often becomes laughably unbearable.
The movie itself stars Milla Jovovich as a woman stricken with amnesia who gets caught up in a gore fest with zombies when she’s dragged into a rescue mission at the decimated facility seen in the beginning. Perhaps some of the most enticing moments of the film are watching a mini-skirted Jovovich do a spin-kick off the wall to the unsuspecting mandibles of zombie canines smothered with barbecue sauce.
Jovovich presents the most noteworthy performance in the movie, but Resident Evil also co-stars Eric Mabius and Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and the Furious). Sadly though, as far as the pace of the film goes, the movie rarely slows down, yet goes nowhere interesting.
Following in the footsteps of Tomb Raider, Jovovich’s character, Alice, remains enticingly half-clothed throughout. She gradually gets her memory back, which at least allows her to kick zombie butt with a clear conscience. Her on-again/off-again soul mate Matt (Mabius) also has to figure out who he is. For a nice change of pace, Rodriguez’ character, Rain, is thrown into the fray to add some righteous girl fighting and dangerously-unsexed-at-the-moment tension.
Those expecting to see a rehash of the storyline that Capcom had developed in it’s games will be greatly disappointed, as the only link to the game that the movie presents is the bad guy Umbrella Corporation.
Other than that, all the film offers is a gore fest reminiscent of films such as Night of the Living Dead and one of the many John Carpenter horror flicks. Although the film will attract those wanting to see if it does justice to the video game series, I think it is more suitable for a DVD release. I give it 2 out of 4 stars.