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Resident Evil -- A Second Take
Reviewed by Kenn McCracken, ©

Format: Movie
By:   Paul Anderson (writer, director)
Genre:   Horror / Action
Released:   Released March 15, 2002
Review Date:  
Audience Rating:   Rated R
RevSF Rating:   8/10 (What Is This?)

There's a lot of bad that you can say about Resident Evil. It's based on a video game, and we all know how good those movies are. It has Milla Jovovich in the lead role, and we all know how good those movies are. It's an obnoxiously loud gorefest that relies heavily on adolescent hormones for attention, replete with overused plotlines and predictable dialogue.

The one good thing that pops to mind is that it's a really fun film.

The story is based on a popular video game of the same name, about a corporate entity named the Umbrella that is doing a lot more than supplying the world with trendy products. In fact, a large part of their cash flow comes from military research, part of which involves the T-13 virus. There's a subplot that pops up occasionally involving the evil corporate entity and a group of people that want to expose them for the evil that they are, but for the most part, that's all forgettable. From here on out, it takes a back seat to flesh-eating zombies and a provocatively dressed military agent with amnesia kicking and shooting her way through them.

Given the source material, and the fact that it's about cannibalistic dead people, it's not hard to figure out what you're in for. There's blood and guts, guns, and a heavy metal soundtrack, exactly what teenagers want. With that in mind, it's very well done. None of the actors will win awards for their roles here, but none are blindingly horrific either. Writer / director Paul Anderson shows the same frenetic energy that he did with Mortal Kombat, and the excellent sense of claustrophobic terror that he used in Event Horizon.

The strongest point to be made about this film is that it may very well be one of the best treatments of zombies that horror movies have seen since George Romero popularized them with Night of the Living Dead. In some ways, in fact, Resident Evil serves as an update on Romero's classic. The zombies spread through contact (if you're bitten, you're screwed) they have only one motivation (food, preferably warm), and the only way to stop them is with a shot or a baseball bat to the head (though Anderson smartly adds damage to the upper spinal cord to the list). There's also the hopeless confinement (a complex that rests a half mile underground rather than a house near the cemetery).

Not all movies are made to win critical acclaim, horror movies even less so. Enjoying a movie like this probably requires less brainpower than the antagonists display, with wafer-thin and disposable (but ultra-hip and oh-so-pretty) characters and a story that wouldn't surprise a ten-year-old. That said, it's worth turning your brain off every once in while, especially if you enjoy a good old-fashioned scare in stylish surroundings.

Kenn McCracken is comics editor for RevolutionSF.

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