Thursday, October 11, 2012

Resident Evil (2002)

Seen: On our projector set-up, streamed from Miles's computer.

Initially our plan for October horror movies was to blow through the whole Resident Evil series, so naturally we started with the first one. When a deadly, highly contagious virus breaks out in the top-secret underground research facility of the all-powerful Umbrella Corporation, the company sends in their own team of specialized security agents to investigate. Along for the trip are two agents of the company suffering from short-term amnesia (Milla Jovovich and James Purefoy) and a cop who stuck his nose where he shouldn't have (Eric Mabius). As they move deeper into the expansive structure, they find a wealth of horrors waiting to meet them.

So I've never played the Resident Evil games, though once I watched a friend play the fourth one and it was rather exciting. I saw this movie years ago on tv and remembered it being good, but couldn't remember any details about it. Basically I'm saying that I went into this with a fairly blank slate. And came out with little enthusiasm to continue the rest of the series. It's not that Resident Evil is bad, it's just that I'm told it's the best in the series and I'm not exactly salivating for more. For the most part it's a fairly standard horror-thriller, with members of the cast picked off in small groups by lasers and surprise zombies (who take their damn sweet time appearing, let me tell you) and a killer computer system. We gradually learn about the characters' backstories as memories surface and secret intentions are revealed. And there's some butt-kicking and nail-biting escape scenes along the way. Also: skinless dogs. Shudder.

Obviously, Michelle Rodriguez is the best part of the movie, given her innate badassery and my personal crush on her as an actress, but Milla Jovovich is pretty decent in the lead role. Her character is kind of flat, especially while she's flailing about with no memory for the first two-thirds, but Jovovich shines those beautiful eyes at the audience and does her best to beat up zombies in a ridiculously impractical outfit (seriously, what the fuck is up with that flowy asymmetrical dress? She just looked DUMB). James Purefoy does sort of a poor man's Hugh Jackman impression, with a faltering accent that threw me off and a character who barely had any lines until he became narratively relevant at the end. Everybody else is pretty forgettable, except maybe Colin Salmon as the head of the special forces team or whatever they were considered. He's out of the picture pretty quickly though, unsurprisingly.

Resident Evil is a passably entertaining video game adaptation with some cool ladies and a solid premise, but for me it doesn't do anything really special. There are many other movies in this vein, some with better special effects and stronger scripts, so except for Milla and Michelle I can't think of much that would draw me into the series. Even if they do always look really cool to me from the trailers (I am SUCH a sucker.)


Pair This Movie With: I don't know, the amnesia thing had me thinking about Dark City, but also in general look and feel I think Pitch Black would make a good combo.

PS In case anyone was wondering, yes this movie does pass the Bechdel Test, which is always nice for a genre flick of this nature.


  1. The latest RE film (Retribution) is worth checking out if for nothing more than Michelle Rodriguez's return. (Trust me... it makes sense.) But you'd have to slog through the other films for it to make any sense, unfortunately. (Though, again, I think #4 is pretty entertaining, as well. It's just 2 and 3 that are really rough.) Anyway, this was a long-winded way of saying Michelle Rodriguez steals the show in the fifth flick, too. She plays two characters, and one of them is the first time she's ever played against type, which is hilarious.

  2. Nick: I know she returns and I wouldn't mind checking out the most recent film, but yeah I'm not interested enough to watch bad films just to get there! I might read the wikipedia summaries or something and just skip to 5.

    1. I would read the summaries on 2 and 3 and then watch 4 and 5. But that's just me.

  3. The lastest one is the best yet. Actually, except #2, this series gets consistently better and more inventive (if also more ridiculous and reflexively "video gamey," though that's to its credit in RE5). I do have a fondness for the first one, though. Anderson is at home in bordered but vast spaces and I think he makes a fun, wonky take on the haunted house idea. Subsequent ones pick different settings though the series always kinds of incorporates all the elements of the previous ones in fun callbacks and stylistic touches.

    1. I gotta disagree. 2 amps up the action and cheese, but it's a huge decline in everything else (story and acting in particular). So I guess we kinda agree there. But 3 is the worst of the films by far. There's literally zero story or purpose to the entire movie. It's so bad that films 4 and 5 pretend like it doesn't even exist. I thought it was 'eh' in theater, but I just rewatched it a couple months ago and was surprised at just how terrible it really was.

      But 4 is the return of Anderson to the director's chair, and it's a major upswing in quality and entertainment, and 5--as we've said--is pretty much the best of the sequels.