Rated R - Running Time: 1:40 - Released 3/15/02

Word has it that well-known horror director George Romero, helmsman of numerous slasher films including the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead, was supposed to direct this film but quit the production due to "creative differences." That's code for "realized the film was crap." Written and directed by Paul Anderson (the perpetrator of such unconscionable dreck as Mortal Kombat and Soldier), Resident Evil is the latest proof that trying to adapt a film from a video game is a bad idea. With ultra-loud metal music and a jump scene every two minutes like clockwork, it provides Ukranian-born model/actress Milla Jovovich (Messenger) with another dubious resumé entry, and me with another massive headache.

The story takes place around the end of the 21st century, when the Umbrella corporation, the largest purely evil conglomerate in the world, takes care of all your medical needs as well as any biological weapons you might require (you know, aspirin, anthrax—whatever you're into). Its headquarters is a huge compound called "the hive," located ½-mile underground and run by a supercomputer called the Red Queen, personified by a hologram of a young British girl who looks like Alice in Wonderland. But something has happened that killed all 500+ employees, and a recovery team has been dispatched to investigate. It consists of above-ground sentries Alice (not in Wonderland) (Jovovich) and her husband Spence (James Purefoy), a girl called Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), and a few other bodies (Eric Mabius, Pasquale Aleardi). Together they investigate the hive and find that a secret weapon called the "T-virus" has been released and all the Umbrella employees (even the dogs they used for testing) have become flesh-eating zombies. Well, it was in their contracts, if they had just read the fine print.

Although Alice and Spence have both had their memories erased by a nerve gas accident, Alice begins putting the pieces together with the help of some dreamlike flashback memories. But she'd better think fast, because not only are all her friends getting eaten by rejects from Michael Jackson's Thriller video, but there is some truly weird creature stalking the halls of the hive with sharp claws, a long tongue, and pointy teeth.

It is clear director Anderson is going for a sort of Alien style here, as his film visually resembles Ridley Scott's 1979 classic, but it's more like Alien with the acting of Debbie Does Dallas. It would qualify in the so-bad-it's-good category (some of its shock scenes are quite funny), but it's just too boring. There are only so many times you can endure things popping out of corners, accompanied by a huge jolt of scary music, before you say, "enough already." Jovovich's acting is perfectly in line with the film's video-game heritage; I think she must have studied under Super Mario. The ending leaves the possibility open for a sequel, but if one should come to pass I think I'll take my residency elsewhere.

Copyright 2002 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

Current | Archives | Oscars | About | E-Mail