Resident Evil

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy.
MPAA Rating: R for strong sci-fi/horror violence, language and sexuality/nudity.

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
March 19, 2002

It seems inevitable now that every successful video game franchise has to spawn a feature film. Personally, I've always found it boring to watch another person play a game, and that is essentially what the film version of Resident Evil is -- a game played by director Paul W.S. Anderson (the Englishman who previously brought us the non-interactive version of Mortal Kombat, not the American Paul Thomas Anderson, who made Magnolia and other films that lacked a digital history).

I'd like to offer a concise description of the film's premise, but I spent most of the time wondering what the hell was going on. I never played the game, but I didn't realize that it was a prerequisite for understanding the film. This enigma is compounded by the fact that a good thirty minutes of the film is dedicated to exposition. I furiously took notes in my PalmPilot, trying to piece together the "plot" of the film. After a while, I realized it was an exercise in futility, because the basic premise of Resident Evil is hot chicks blowing away zombies. I could try to explain why Milla Jovovich had to fight the undead while wearing a red evening dress that was systematically torn apart, but I don't think it would be a constructive venture.

Looking at the IMDb page for the film, I see that Jovovich's character had three names, but I'll be damned if any one of them was mentioned in the course of the film. I gave up trying to follow the characters after a while and just enjoyed Anderson's eye candy. Not only did he have the beautiful Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and the Furious) in the film, he had all sorts of high-tech whirligigs spinning around the set, including a room that slices, dices, and juliennes people with lasers (Cuisinart, eat your heart out). The film only slowed down for the expository speeches by the various unnamed characters. A constant state of heightened absurdity was achieved throughout the film, making it morbidly entertaining.

I don't think the rest of the audience enjoyed it on the same level that I did -- I think I was the only one laughing, for one thing. It's really somewhat sad that the rest only took the film at face value, assuming it to be just another humorless spectacle. It seems that Anderson is actually smarter than his audience and revels in the fact that he can sell them a bad movie. I do wish that he would apply his talents to something intelligent, but as long as Hollywood pays him to film video games, my wishes will go unanswered.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Resident Evil (2002)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Resident Evil: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc
Resident Evil -- Game for Sony PlayStation


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Review © 2002 Matt Heffernan