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Resident Evil  (2002)

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Colin Salmon, Joseph May
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
U.S. Distribution: Screen Gems / Sony
U.S. Release Date: 3/15/02
Running Time: 1:40
MPAA Rating: R

A Microsoft-like company called Umbrella Corporation dominates the commercial landscape with products in nearly all of America's homes. They also employ many of the world's top scientists in a underground complex called "The Hive". Their top-secret viral and genetic research comes to an abrupt end when a super virus exposure sends the Hive into lock-down and the company's super computer, the "Red Queen", into kill mode. All 500 employees are gassed, drowned, or squashed.

Enter Umbrella's commando team of investigators, who drag along a couple of amnesiacs in Alice (Milla Jovovich), her husband (who really isn't, but that's another story) and a cop, who all end up entangled in the operation. It isn't long before half of the soldiers are wiped out by a lethal laser, with the others left to deal with the Evil computer, some 500 zombies, a pack of undead Dobermans and a enormously hideous mutation freed from its lair when the computer commando successfully disables the Red Queen.

This film is one wild ride much like the video games it is based on, at least from what I am told. Having never played any of the four Resident Evil games; and not seeing Mortal Kombat, an earlier video game (to) film directed by the same Paul Anderson, or reading Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland" (I do feel a bit sheltered?), I cannot participate in many of the comparison games being played out by critics and fans alike. I only know (but again, not with any certainty) that this film is a sort of prequel to the popular video games, which means... Hell, I don't know!?

The two strong female characters played by Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez are the absolute best thing about Resident Evil. Many of the movie's better plot elements involve the high-tech computer. The undead dogs and docs aren't nearly as interesting, but they do reveal a good bit of Alice's physical makeup (to both herself and the viewer). The zombies are basically cut from the same mold as George Romero's Living Dead (which could be Anderson's way of saying, "why mess with something that works?"). The ravenous tongue monster is teased for most of the film and finally appears at the most obvious point. One might describe "The Licker" as being very similar to the man-eating beast in The Relic, but with a lot less staying power.

I did not particularly care for the film's unbridled energy and frantic pacing; and even worse, the ever-intrusive sound effects and loud industrial music. Resident Evil isn't all that scary or original, but it does feature some decent effects and is worth a look.

© 2002, Delton Perrodin

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