Game – Movie Review: Resident Evil (2002)
I think just about every fan of the Resident Evil series whooped for joy when it was announced that we would be finally getting a film based off the games. Imagine the possibilities, would it be similar to the opening FMV of the original game (I joke)?
I don’t think anyone really expected the movie to follow the games exactly but most would have hoped for some of the games storylines to creep in…surely it would be set in the mansion? Alarm bells started ringing when it was revealed the movie would star a new character called Alice.
The movie opens with Alice (played Milla Jovovich) waking up in the shower. She has clearly fallen over & is suffering from amnesia. She dresses & explores a seemingly deserted mansion that she apparently lives in (photos of her with a man). She runs into Matt, a new cop, before they are both accosted by a group of commandos who break into the mansion.
Turns out the mansion is just a front for a hidden genetic research lab called the Hive owned & operated by the Umbrella Corporation. Alice & the man in the picture (Spence) both work for Umbrella assigned to guard the entrance to the lab (the mansion). Hours before the computer system that controls the Hive, the Red Queen, shut down the lab & released amnesia-inducing gas. The commandos also work for Umbrella & have been called in to find out why the Queen shut the lab down & get things back in order.
With Alice & a now arrested Matt in tow they all travel towards the Hive entrance. Along the way to an underground train they find an amnesia-stricken Spence & bring him along as well.
The group infiltrate the Hive & find the place deserted…while attempting to reach the Red Queens core they spring a trap that sees 4 of the commando’s wiped out (it’s a killer scene). The survivors manage to disable the computer which in turn unlocks all the doors in the Hive releasing all of Umbrella’s dark secrets.
Yep…turns out the Red Queen shut the Hive down to stop anything getting out after a viral outbreak turned everyone in zombies. With the security systems disabled the zombies are free to roam the Hive alongside many of Umbrella’s other experiments.
As plots go it’s a pretty good one if you weren’t looking for connections to the games. It’s interesting with just enough intrigue to keep you wondering what will happen next. The build up to the zombie reveal is well done & it manages to actually retain some moments of horror. A tense crawl across pipes away from an armada of zombies & the afore-mentioned laser-trap scene stand out.
It’s well acted with some well-known names taking up some of the roles. While the film focuses on Alice mostly (get used to that) it is lesser characters sub-plots that will interest you more…mainly Matt & Spence’s role in all of this.
The problem with Resident Evil lies within the amount of focus given to the character Alice. She is the star & there is no forgetting that…a worrying Kung-Fu fight with several zombified dogs really hammers home that fact. Milla isn’t a bad actor at all but those of us hoping for something more true to the game were left incredibly disappointed.
That’s not to say there isn’t subtle references & nods to fans of the series if you look hard enough. Obviously things like zombies, Umbrella, Raccoon City are easy to spot but some of the more subtle ones include a train reference to Code Veronica & newspapers articles that are similar to the ones in the opening of the first game.
Clever as these are…this is a Resident Evil film that wasn’t made with fans in mind. Funny that it turned out to be so successful…the ending of the film serves to set-up the next one in the series.
As zombie action movies go Resident Evil doesn’t do badly in the end. It’s thrilling enough to keep your attention even if such focus on one character is frustrating at times. On reflection Resident Evil holds up well compared to the many sequels that have come since.
The Final Score - 7/10