‘Resident Evil’ possesses a certain charm
My love of horror-themed, survival-based horror games has been well documented in my reviews. To say I have a certain bias toward movies based on horror video games would be… well, it would be the truth.
I’m aware of this prejudice, and so as I watch “Resident Evil,” the first live-action film based on the genre classic horror-survival game of the same name, I cast a critical eye both toward its adherence to canon and its strengths as a film. And for the most part, “Resident Evil” mostly sticks the former. The latter? Well, it is a video game-turned-movie. I was never expecting much.
“Resident Evil” has a simple enough premise. Alice (a role-fitting Milla Jovoich) finds herself without memory in her big ol’ masion. Guns and a particular red dress await her. And then there’s zombies. Lots and lots of zombies that have a penchant for killing everyone within biting distance.
For those who’ve played the early “Resident Evil” video games, the story will be familiar. We have ourselves a corporation, Umbrella, that has created a military-grade bio-virus capable of re-animating the dead. Guess what? Things go poorly. It doesn’t help that all of this is happening in a top-secret, underground facility where genetic experiments are par for the course.
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the story pulls inspiration from a multitude of other films and concepts, including “Night of the Living Dead,” “Alien” and his own “Event Horizon.” At the center of the plot is Jovovich’s Alice, a highly trained officer capable of great physical feats and lightning-fast reflexes. An impressive persona, she tries to save herself and those with her from the ever-present nightmare surrounding her.
Along with her on this adventure through zombies and throat-crushing dogs and giant mutant creatures are a group of soldiers trying to figure out what happened in the underground facility after the virus leaked out and who is responsible. We have the slightly untrustworthy (but we’re not sure why) Eric (Matt Addison) and the trigger-happy Rain (the always intimidating Michelle Rodriguez).
When it comes down to it, “Resident Evil” is just a lot of nonsense. To those without fairly intimate knowledge of the games, you will quickly find yourself lost. It doesn’t help that the movie drags out for about 75 minutes and the only interesting character is Alice, who plays the primary roles in all the follow-up films. Honestly, when you boil down everything here, “Resident Evil” is really just about a group of surviving trying to outlast a virus.
In the end, “Resident Evil” offers little for those who aren’t hardcore fans of the video games. It meanders throughout its thin plot, does little in character development and really just isn’t all that scary. But it does possess a certain charm, namely Jovovich’s Alice. There’s something appealing about her determination to survive. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.
Two infected stars out of five.