Dir. by Paul W.S. Anderson - 1 hr. 40 min.
by Clayton Hollifield
Although "Resident Evil" has proven to be durable franchise, both in video games and film, it's also kind of cookie-cutter. This first installment in the franchise is probably most guilty of that - there isn't a ton here that hasn't either been presented in other films before or after. It's not a bad movie exactly, it delivers what it promises. But most of it's appeal lies with whether you had played the games or really like the actors involved.
There is a secret underground laboratory in Raccoon City called "The Hive," and it's automated systems go bonkers and kills everyone who works there. Also, a woman wakes up naked and disoriented in her shower, and as she's trying to figure out exactly what it going on, a military-style troupe breaks into her house, scooping up both Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her husband, Spence (James Purefoy). They, along with the military crew, have to break back into the Hive and disable the Red Queen, the artificial intelligence that runs the Hive. And zombies. Let's not forget the zombies.
As I wrote, there's not a lot new here. Part of the problem has been the proliferation of zombie movies over the decade that's passed since "Resident Evil" came out, but part of the problem is that the movie really does feel like a video game. The dialogue is perfunctory and trite, there's minimal character development (indeed, two of the main characters, including Alice, suffer from temporary amnesia). Actually, pretty much all of the character development occurs within about five minutes in the film, where both of the amnesiacs spontaneously recover their memories, and with that, remember their actual motivations. The setting itself feels like it could have come from "Doom" (movie or game, take your pick). The story here just doesn't give itself much to work with.
But, is it cool? Kinda. There are a bunch of ravenous zombies in the hive, and a couple of horrific creatures. Probably the coolest of them are the meat dogs (I have no idea what they're really called, they look like dogs that are draped at a butcher's shop, thus the meat dogs). Michelle Rodriguez's character gets bitten by a zombie fairly early, so we get to see the slow-change over the second half of the film. The Hive is pretty cool (although not as cool as the underground structure in "The Andromeda Strain"), and Milla Jovovich is really cool.
This whole ball of wax rests on whether you really enjoy any of the components previously mentioned. If you're a fan of the game, any of the actors (particularly Jovovich), or zombie movies in general, this is a completely passable film. It's not good, but it's competent. I didn't think there was much that was all that scary, but part of that is that there wasn't much to invest in regarding the characters. That's slowly rectified in future installments, but is definitely a weakness here. But those meat dogs were pretty awesome, maybe the best part of the film.
2.5 / 5 - DVD