Film Reviews:

Resident Evil

(Paul W.S. Anderson, US, 2002)

Sleepless Region 2 DVD The latest video game to be turned into a movie owes a large debt to Day of the Dead, a smaller debt to Aliens, and tips its hat to a range of less well-known work, from Cube to Gunhed. It does have a style of its own, however, with Anderson going back to his roots, as it were, since he also directed Mortal Kombat, one of the more successful game-to-screen adaptations.

The plot concerns a particularly nasty virus which is released in a secret underground lab. The control computer locks the place tight, killing all the staff (including one very nice sequence in a lift), which is none too wise as the virus brings them back as mindless zombies with a taste for flesh. The company sends in a team of commandos to sort things out - though "sort things out" here appears to mean "die at frequent intervals in interesting ways". The storyline is plagued with holes and, largely, makes no sense. The characters are so ill-defined, I managed to combine two of the central characters into one person. You feel about as little for most of them, as you do for the zombies. And yet...

Anderson has done a fine job of capturing the spirit and breathless pace of computer games, which aren't really ABOUT emotions. Let's face it, when was the last time one made you cry? Or feel anything at all - beyond annoyance as Lara Croft falls to her death for the 63rd time. Approach this movie in the same spirit as you would a session at the arcade, and you'll have fun, forgiving the plot-flaws because they are crucial to the Really Cool stuff.

To wit: security lasers with a sense of cinematic tension. Milla Jovovich breaking a zombie's neck with her thighs. Undead Dobermans. Michelle Rodriguez going through a third straight movie with the same expression. Frontline Assembly and Nine Inch Nails lending an assist to Marilyn Manson on the soundtrack. More cheap shocks than a box of rejected Taiwanese toys. A final shot of grim obviousness. One can only cower in horror at what it might have been if, as planned, Romero had been directing: slow and shambling, like one of the zombies, I suspect. Instead, at the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious, while this is not great cinema, it is, however, more than enough shallow fun to justify its existence.

Jim McLennan

See also:

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Run Lola Run

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