Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Movie Review: Resident Evil

 This film does it right in so many ways.

 My first introduction to Resident Evil was while walking through the mall.  It was 1998, at the time the game system I had at home was the Sega Genesis, which had what I thought was an impressive graphics-engine.  KB Toys had their display-unit of the Sony Play Station right out in the walkway in front of their store, and the game in the system was Resident Evil 2.  I was blown-away by the system's graphics and the game itself.

 We were playing the game at home that night.

 Resident Evil, the film, came out in 2002, and like anything Hollywood tries to adapt into a movie I was expecting the worse.  Milla Jovovich, who's breasts I remembered from The Fifth Element (a great movie), hadn't hit my radar yet as someone worth paying attention to.  The only glimmer of hope I really had for the film was in the news that Marilyn Manson was involved with the soundtrack.

I hate waking up naked and not knowing who I am.
 I saw the film originally in the theater.  From the opening sequence, I knew this was going to be something special.  Milla, who plays Alice, is nude in her opening scene... and it just gets better from there.  Nothing but love went into this film from the entire production team; love for the video-game franchise, love for the horror-film genre, love for a level of detail that borders on obsessive, and love for making a thrilling film. 

Alway bad-ass.
 As an example of the level of detail that went into the production of the film, Umbrella, the series's antagonistic organization that developed and deployed the T-Virus (which re-animates dead tissue resulting in flesh-eating zombies and worse), sends in a tactical assault team to enter "The Hive", the underground facility where the T-Virus was being developed.  Each member of the team initially appears clad like high-tech ninjas; gas-masks, full head cowls, uniforms, body armor, and high-tech gear all black.  Each uniform and set of equipment, however, is actually slightly different for each member of the team, specialized based on their particular function.  You barely notice it while watching the film, but the costume department, armorers, and FX folks considered it a must. 

You're all going to die down here.
 The tension is high in the film and established almost immediately in the opening sequence.  My gut still churns thinking about the elevator-scene.  This is only assisted by the soundtrack, engineered by Marilyn Manson.  The soundtrack is often carried by digitally-synthesized, hard-edged and militant guitar riffs, but is also marked with a barrage of strange electrical noises and sounds that are sometimes barely audible.  The intent was not simply to create a musical score, but to use sound to enhance the visual stimuli and create an environment.  Listening to this portion of the soundtrack in a dark room can be creepy all on its own.

 Speaking of the soundtrack, Resident Evil also makes use of some of the best music from the top industrial and metal bands of the time, being one of three movie soundtracks drawing from the industrial and techno scene that I recommend owning (the other two being the soundtracks to The Matrix and Queen of the Damned). 

 The one flaw in this film is the obvious CGI nature of the Licker.  Had this creature's digital representation been better executed, I would have nothing to complain about with this film.  This visuals and environments are rich in their detail, borrowing heavily from both the Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 games.  The acting is superb, with wonderful performances from all involved, including Ms. Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, and Colin Salmon.  The writing is fast-paced, often humorous, and offers enough twists to keep you on your toes. 

 And, the film is nicely book-ended with a second, full-frontal nude scene.  Milla just likes to get naked!

 Resident Evil has spawned a series of films, and though most of them have been great (the second film being a possible exception), none have been as good as the first.  Resident Evil is also probably my favorite video-game adaptation, with Doom being a close second.