Resident Evil (Paul W. S. Anderson, 2002)
[originally posted 28Mar2002]
No, Paul W. S. Anderson is no relation to Paul Thomas Anderson (of Magnolia fame). Anyone who’s seen Resident Evil probably knows that without having to be told. But I get the feeling that even Paul Thomas Anderson fans will get at least a guilty kick out of this movie. Hey, you’ve got beautiful women, hard-case police officers, loud music, a psychotic computer, and a bunch of zombies. What more could you possibly ask?
Paul W. S. Anderson, responsible for bringing us the fun little flick Event Horizon five years ago, turns his attention to videogames here. He opens with a scene right out of The Stand; a bacteriological contagion races through an office building, while the computer that runs the building, fearing the contagion getting out, seals it off, killing everyone inside. Cut to Alice (Milla Jovovich, last seen by Americans crossing swords with Dustin Hoffman in The Messenger), naked, passed out, and in the shower. All righty then. Soon enough, we’re given the connection—Alice’s house is one of the entryways into The Hive, the secret bioweapons research center run by said computer that just killed everyone in it. Alice is, effectively, a cop, put in the house to guard the entrance, though she has no memory of it (thanks to that computer again; it has a thing for nerve gas). She, along with a number of other law enforcement types, head into the Hive to find out what went wrong. Complications, as they say…
Those who have played the video game series (I’ve only played a demo of the second game) will find lots of little homages within the film, at least according to the trivia section of IMDB; so will fans of George Romero films (both Dawn and Day of the Dead are well-represented with visual cues and the like; Romero was originally slated to direct this film) and Alice in Wonderland (Alice is fighting a computer called The Red Queen, who asks for Michelle Rodriguez’ head… she stops short of saying “Off with her head!,” but there you go). In fact, some folks will have enough fun with the movie playing spot-the-reference that they won’t really have to have much else for the film to be worth the admission price. For the rest of us, there’s more than enough action (almost nonstop after the team has been in the Hive for about ten minutes), decent acting from a cadre of rising B-list actors (along with Jovovich, we have Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, and a number of easily-recognizable others), more jump-out-of-your-seat moments than in any so-called horror film from the last decade, and, well, zombies. How bad can a film be if it’s got zombies? (For the moment, we’ll forget they made a Return of the Living Dead III, shall we?) Add in a Marilyn Manson-scored soundtrack, shake, chill, and serve.
Loads of fun. ****