RESIDENT EVIL – 2002, Paul W.S. Anderson
In the late 90’s, the Resident Evil video games were totally the cat’s pajamas. Critics and gamers alike couldn’t get enough of the impressive graphics, spooky atmosphere, and innovate “survival Horror” play style, and absolutely nobody ever companied about the game’s lack of Milla Jovovich doing karate. It seemed inevitable that a movie based on the series would soon enter production, and lo and behold; this prophecy was fulfilled.
Initially, the studio went after beloved horror director and zombie O.G. George Romero to direct an adaptation, which, at the time, seemed like a slam dunk, but after a long courtship, these negotiations fizzled out, leaving producers to apparently just throw up their arms in frustration and ask, “What about that smarmy ballsack who directed Mortal Kombat?” And that, boys and girls, is how Paul W.S. Anderson, who is to film franchises what Jack the Ripper is to 19th Century British Prostitutes, destroyed any possibility of there ever being a good Resident Evil movie, ever.
Here’s the thing, it should not be hard to make a good Resident Evil movie, you guys. For reals, this one should have been in the bag. The problem is, though, that Resident Evil was a game about surviving, not fighting. Paul W.S. Anderson doesn’t care about that. That’s boring, in Paul’s book, he really only makes one type of movie; it’s gotta be an action film, it has to be really, really stupid, and if at all possible, his girlfriend Milla Jovovich has to be in it, so she can pretend to be a bad ass. Though this is an unconfirmed suspicion, most experts agree that the only way Anderson can retain that Leeloo Dallas Multipass to her downstairs Ukrainian bang-situation is by constantly crafting full length motion pictures wherein Jovovich get’s to pretend to be a bad ass and beat people up. Do the math, she’s a model and he’s a squirmy little turd. I’ve seen guys do more elaborate things to seal the deal, but seriously, bro, this is extreme. Just find somebody who likes you for you.
THE PLOT~ Deep underground in a genetic research facility, there is an outbreak of a deadly, biologically engineered virus which turns people into zombies. Immediately, the job is put to Milla Jovovich to be a bad ass and do karate.
Resident Evil is glorified Sci Fi channel tripe, it’s a cheesy, predictable action film full of stupid characters doing stupid things, start to finish. There actually are a few decent scenes here and there, shockingly enough, but the story is boring, and the zombies are seriously downplayed. We do have some zombie dogs that turn up, which are briefly almost neat, but Jovovich just karate kicks them to death in a sequence totally and utterly divorced from the spirit of the source material, so that scene and everything in it is therefore reduced to suckary of the lowest order.
As mentioned before, Zombies do not factor into this “zombie movie” nearly enough. Our most memorable sequence in the whole film involves someone being killed not by the undead, but instead, by….. an elevator. Alright…. It’s a good scene, but I kinda wonder why you’re not doing any zombie stuff in your zombie movie, Paul… Moving right along… The second most memorable sequence in the film… also, zero zombies. Instead, we have a bunch of people who get laser beamed to death in some kind of futuristic, laser-hallway. Again, kinda neat, but one would think that, when sitting down to write and direct a zombie movie, zombies would be something you would want to make sure got in there somewhere. I feel like that would be the very first item on the checklist, so it seems really weird how minimal they are in the grand scheme of this movie. I mean, if any of you out there really have a thing for laser-death, please, step up, this movie has a scene that you should totally see, but given that this was supposed to be a zombie film, it for sure comes across as being far too light in the zombie department.
And that’s not the only thing this movie skimps on, either. It really feels like there must have been a conscious effort to avoid including anything that made the games effective, and the only qualities that made the jump from the game to the film are the qualities that don’t really matter. The crumbling atmosphere, the claustrophobic, tension laden camera angles, the emphasis on survival over Matrix style karate shootouts like we ended up with, all of that is either minimized or just flat out missing altogether, and replaced with bland cinematography, slick action sequences, and childish, two dimensional characters who nobody ever asked for. This movie sucks, and it could have been really great.
Resident Evil is a massive failure in every way except for commercially, because when Paul W.S. Anderson is on board, you are guaranteed a fate worse than death. Not only do his movies totally suck, but they also make money, thereby guaranteeing a long, miserable line of sequels, each even suckier than the last. If you had any connection to the source material at all, your life just took a virtual belly flop into Hell’s lake of fire.
So, Devil’s advocate time: From a very zen, calm state of mind, one can look at Resident Evil and say, “okay… It’s not that terrible. It’s not the kind of movie we should have received, but as a cheesy, paper-thin sci-fi action flick, this certainly isn’t the worst movie out there.”
That’s true… but is that enough? I’m pretty tired of constantly trying to lessen the sting of how shitty everything is by telling myself that other things are even shittier. That’s a poor excuse, and if we keep on justifying things in this fashion, nothing is ever going to get better. We need to rethink that train of thought right here and right now, if you get stung by hornets, don’t just say “Hey, at least my entire family wasn’t murdered before my very eyes, because that would be worse than being stung by hornets.” That makes no sense, dude. I mean, I agree, the murder of your immediate family would be worse, but you’re allowed to be upset about getting stung by hornets. Too many people aren’t, though, and sadly, by this point we’ve tolerated and even rewarded shitty media for such a long time that now there’s almost nothing decent out there. Now we have people so desperate to actually enjoy something that they’re willing to convince themselves that being stung by hornets is just terrific. Its not!!! Hornet stings are freaking terrible!!! And so is this damn movie! Stop paying for hornet stings!!!
Followed by a spree of horrible sequels. In fact, there are now like, six of these things. Or maybe I’m dead and this is Hell, both seem probable.