Resident Evil
review by Gregory Avery, 15 March 2002

Resident Evil is a masterpiece of modern cinema. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll scream at every awful, creeping, crawling terror and -- who are we kidding? Let's not delay the inevitable, folks. This movie is duller than dirt.

There is a story, but there's so little of it that the filmmakers don't seem to mind whether you notice it's there or not. A group of paramilitary soldiers are assigned to break into an underground complex, composed of both corporate offices and a biotechnology lab, located beneath "Raccoon City." They're not told why they have to go in, or what they're going in for, and nobody ever seems to question why the place has such radically serious security devices, such as laser rays that can cut through the human body like butter, which they have to either break or get past. Tagging along, forcibly, is Milla Jovovich, whom the soldiers were told to take with them just because: she's an amnesiac, but she has flippety-flop, lightning-fast flashbacks which may have something to do with what's been going on inside the locked-down lab facility. As it turns out, the place has been manufacturing viruses, one of which can bring the dead back to life, with a vengeance. That virus, rather than the one that offers a cure for the common cold, is the one that's broken loose, and so the characters have to fight their way back out the facility after fighting their way in.

The movie is based on a video game, and it's still a video game, made up of scenes of people either stalking around or being chased. The director, Paul W.S. Anderson (who replaced George Romero -- !!! -- during the production), earlier made the dung-colored Mortal Kombat -- also based on a video game -- and he portions out the story in such little dollops that he keeps the characters (and the audience) in the dark about what's happening most of the time, and the results are insufferable. When something does finally happen, the camera flails around while people and things flail around in front of it. This may be all right for those who just want to just watch something that slaps things on the screen for an immediate jolt, regardless of whether it has any meaning or not. But even the pieces de résistance that one would presume to find in the movie's second hour -- this is about hoards of fast-moving zombies that are looking for anyone to take a bite out of -- never materialize. (The movie doesn't even make good on its promised hard-rock soundtrack of songs from musicians ranging from Marilyn Manson to the hellacious Slipknot.)

Standing in the middle of it all is Milla Jovovich, who spends vast amounts of time staring vapidly into space: she looks like she's waiting for someone to tap her on the shoulder and tell her what to do. Slightly to one side is Michelle Rodriguez, a talented actress who isn't given very much more to do than Jovovich, but she's in there working anyway, trying to create some sort of character who's tough and spirited. (She's the only one in the movie whom you find yourself caring about what happens to her by the end of the story.) The rest of the cast are stuck with characters that are so undefined that they end up turning into the "faceless," stalwart casts that could be seen in the more squarish science-fiction movies in the 'Fifties.

Jovovich ends up on an examination table with a whole bunch of white tubes stuck into her body, including two that are stuck right into the side of her head. (Which she then pulls out. OUCH.) Is she in the room next to Elizabeth Taylor's at the make-over clinic in Ash Wednesday? The filmmakers are going to have to resort to intravenous methods if they're going to keep audiences in their seats during this movie.

Written and 
Directed by:

Paul W.S. Anderson

Milla Jovovich
Michelle Rodriguez
Eric Mabius

R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
accompanying parent
or adult guardian.





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