Resident Evil

March 15, 2002

Director –
Paul Anderson

Major Actors –
Milla Jovovich …. Alice
Michelle Rodriguez …. Rain
Eric Mabius …. Matt
James Purefoy …. Spence
IMDB Information

Analysis –
Acting :
I have to admit upfront that I really like Milla Jovovich as an actress. Some of her roles (*cough*messenger*cough*) haven’t been the best, but 9 times out of 10 she does a very good job of pulling something worthwhile out of a performance that might otherwise be hokey or painful to watch (Fifth Element, He Got Game, The Claim). Plus, I really liked Fifth Element. That said, she and everyone in this film did a suprisingly good job. Get used to that phrase, as my surprise at the watchability of this film is going to be a common theme.
All of the actors in this film were handed essentially stock parts. Jovovich got the badass cute chick, Rodriguez got the tough as nails macho chick, Purefoy got the conniving backstabber, and Mabius got the caring tough guy. Each of these actors pull off their roles without making you want to replace them with chimpanzees, a compliment I’m not willing to pay to many actors handed stock parts. Their portrayals of these movie cookie cutters are neither boring nor frustrating; They pull their roles off with some amount of spunk and verve.
Writing :
This is the weakest area of the movie, of course, due to the fact that the movie had to stay within the bounds of the RE video game universe. However, like with the acting, this film manages to pull of its patching of plot holes and dodging of obvious fallacies with some amusing plot devices, dialogue control, and editing (discussed under directing). The dialogue in particular, an aspect of movies I am fairly sensitive to, was more than passable for a zombie shoot-em up. Not once during the film did a sentence stated by one of the characters make me want to throttle a writer. One aspect of the film’s writing I would have improved would likely have been a touch more backstory. As this film is setting the scene for future RE movies (discussed under synopsis), getting even more of a handle on what was going on might have taken the burden off of future movies. As it was the amount of backstory they included was very informative for individuals who have never played any of the games.

Paul Anderson should be known to gaming movie watchers, as he is the selfsame individual who directed the original Mortal Kombat film. He is also the fellow who brought us the space-horror flick Event Horizen. Had I known this before I saw the film, I likely would have had higher hopes going into the film than I did, because both of those films (and Resident Evil) did a very good job of establishing a mood and carrying that mood through the film.
Andersen’s directing was very successful in this film because of the way in which he put you into the story. The framing of the shots and the pacing of the action never let you stop moving, but never felt rushed or hurried. A smooth, clean progression through the film let the audience take in the experience without really noticing the editing or shot framing, a clear sign of good directing.

Sets, Costumes, Special FX and Music:
Except for a fairly uninteresting job costuming the characters, the technical aspects of this film were very very good. Sets were intriguingly deep and multi-layered, allowing for lots of things to be going on at once and making sure the backdrop to the action was never boring. The FX in the film ranged from flash and dazzle security systems to the ever tricky problem of computer animating creatures in a real environment, and most of the fx shots in the film were done fairly well. Some closeup shots of the cg creations weren’t the best, but all in all a forgivable slight as far as it goes. Marco Beltrami did a fantastic job with the score for this movie, and I’m looking forward to picking it up the next chance I get. The extremely technological sound and almost palpable presence of the score throughout this movie made every scene that much more enjoyable. Future works of his include Blade II and the score for the CG movie based on the game Alice.

Movie Overall :
This movie very much surprised me. I was expecting a sub-par zombie shooter, and was rewarded with an experience as rich as playing one of the better games in the series. The experience, I believe, is what made this movie successful for me. It did a very very good job of establishing a texture and mood right off, and then kept the mood alive with slick editing, a fine score, and shiny pictures.
In writing this review, it should be noted that I checked out what actual movie reviewers thought of the film. Some of them I felt had good points, but Ebert and Roper were panning the film, and I was following what they were saying until they said “Tomb Raider made a better video game movie than this”. I stopped reading and realized that nobody knows what they’re talking about anyway, so I shouldn’t feel like I have to listen to paid reviewers.

Personal Rating
This movie is worth seeing for matinee price.

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