Ask yourself, did anyone really think this was ever going to be a good film? It’s a video game adaptation, for one thing. I have never seen a decent video game adaptation (and no, the two Final Fantasy films do not count, as one is a sequel to the game, and one has zero relation to any game in the series). And second, it’s directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. Before this film, he has done such classics as Soldier, Shopping, Event Horizon, and Mortal Kombat (that’s right, another equally bad video game adaptation). Haven’t heard of any of these films (except maybe Mortal Kombat)? I don’t blame you. Most of them flopped and have been thrown in the bargain bin.
Remember, Resident Evil was not doomed from the start. It originally was being written and directed by George Romero (yes, that George Romero), who had his secretary play the game and record every minute of gameplay so he could study it while writing. Apparently, the people at Capcom didn’t like Romero‘s script, so he was booted off the project. Enter Paul W. S. Anderson, who wrote a script that was favoured over Romero‘s. It seems that after hiring a man who pretty much created the zombie genre, hiring Anderson, who’s best achievement had been directing a financially successful but critically loathed adaptation of Mortal Kombat, seems like a pretty bad move on Sony’s part, as Resident Evil has been smashed by critics and fans of the game.
Resident Evil sees a virus is let loose in a secret lab underneath the Umbrella Corporation’s Headquarters, called The Hive, the lab is sealed and everyone inside are gassed and killed. Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up in a shower (because you just couldn’t make a clichéd horror film without THAT), not knowing where she is or how she got there. Soon, she, and a police officer she finds wandering around the house named Matt, are attacked by a group of commandos, headed up by ‘One’, and feisty but oh-so-obnoxious Rain (Michelle Rodriguez). They explain that they were sent down to investigate a disturbance in The Hive. As they go down into the depths of Umbrella, they discover the dead have been re-animated, and try and get out safely while trying to find out what caused it.
Resident Evil represents one of the hardest plot summaries I’ve ever had to write, because air has more substance than this film. It’s more of an incoherent mess than Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, and that’s saying something. It’s an excuse to have zombies shot, stabbed, and dismembered. And occasionally, that can be fun. If it’s done well, you can look past the film’s bad points and just have fun with the violence, a perfect example being Predator. The only problem, the action in Resident Evil is terrible! The zombies look terrible, the guns look and sound like toys, and the effects are just abysmal. Everything in this film is poorly executed.
Resident Evil’s acting is as expected. Michelle Rodriguez is easily the one who comes out worst, as her character is so unlikeable and annoying that you want her to get bitten by a zombie. Milla Jovovich cannot really be judged on her acting ability as Alice has, and I’m not even exaggerating here, no character. She has no characteristics, and no real traits apart from being able to fight. Her amnesia is just a reason to have choppy and disorientating flashbacks which serve no narrative purpose. In fact, most of the things that happen serve no purpose. This film could be over in 10 minutes if you cut back all the filler.
Resident Evil is a wasted film. The game could have been great material for an entertaining zombie movie, but they made it a cheap, uninteresting, formulaic mess. This film would have been more entertaining if it had been directed by someone like Uwe Boll, a director notorious or making terrible video game adaptations. But at least his films are fun! Paul W. S. Anderson is an awful director, as his later efforts show, solidifying him in my mind as a poor man’s Michael Bay. Do not see this film over some other modern zombie films, like Zack Snyder‘s remake of Dawn of the Dead. Watch that, skip this.
Originally published on ‘Film-Node‘ website.