Monday, April 7, 2014

Cinema Junk: Resident Evil

 Cinema Junk is all about the exploration of different films, good or bad. In this entry, Humor Tumor sets out on the task to begin a series of reviews to cover every video game movie released. To begin it all, he starts where it mattered the most to him....with Resident Evil. *spoilers contained*

Resident Evil was one of the first video game movies that I was aware of before it was actually ever released. Rumors, leaked stills, early trailers. It was one of the few movies I kept a pretty close eye on. I remember being super amped up for it when I got to see the trailer for the first time while at the movies with my family.

I probably wet myself...

Of course, as with most video game movies, the prelude to actually seeing the film is most often the more enjoyable part than actually seeing the final product. My feelings on the movie when it first came out were quite negative, and they remained like that for a good long while. My main gripe at the time was it differed too wildly from the games. The odd thing is, now I feel that the differences it has are some of the better qualities it has.

The truth of the matter is, it's not that bad of a film. In fact....I quite like it now.

If you google Resident Evil movie CG, this pops up....
Sure it has it's moments where it is lacking. Some rather iffy special effects, rather loose continuity in terms of how scenes stitch together, and some of the dumbest Umbrella Operatives I've ever seen (more on that in a moment).

The movie starts out simple enough, you're introduced to Umbrella via a brief narration telling you they are basically the Wal-Mart of pharmaceuticals; the make everything, the are evil, and they force people to work underground. Soon enough shit goes down, and everyone is trapped inside and immediately murdered. Of course that would make the movie way too short, so you are introduced to our main character. Her name is Alice, but you would never know by just watching the film. For some reason there was no attempt to give her a name, or at least make it known. No idea why. She walks around looking confused (she's good at that) and eventually gets grabbed by some guy sulking around in the background, then they get grabbed by a bunch of masked operatives who come crashing through the windows while the audience tilts their heads in confusion.

It's almost a running gag or theme....
The crew introduces themselves and almost shockingly easy reveal a ton of secret information that I'm sure Umbrella would not be happy about. Of course, as they head into the main facility you see so many Umbrella logos that if you made it into a drinking game you would kill your liver in very short order. Logos on every panel of the wall, logos on the door, logos on the bullet casings. I could only imagine why Umbrella would do that, most likely to remind everyone who they work for. But in any case it's almost ( is) silly, why even hide your "secret" research facility underground if a simple look in any direction would implicate your company. Eventually all hell breaks loose. A good swath of the operatives die in non-zombie related ways, which for a zombie movie is rather lame. And sadly the coolest character in the film is relegated as cannon fodder.

I couldn't find a picture of him kicking ass, but I found.....this
Also, at this point I would like to note that for an elite group of para military operatives, they show surprising ineptitude in combat situations. Hundreds of rounds are expended, and I think most of them ended up hitting everything but the zombies. And despite the zombies getting back up again and again, no one thought to shoot them in the head. Hell, they didn't even accidentally hit a zombie in the head. The one they did manage to kill had her neck snapped. They had to be told up front to kill the brain by the Red Queen.

Now it would be unfair to say all the umbrella operatives where idiots. Kaplan was one of two who weren't. Sure he was a bit of a wuss, but I imagine most people would in that situation. And Rain, Michelle Rodriguez's character, mostly says one liners and looks surly. Kaplan has the most growth, and I wish his character had played out more in future films. Sadly he is left with just this film under his belt, unless he's a clone of course (Anderson does love clones). Of course, you have the other characters. Alice wanders around looking very lost and confused, while Matt always looks surprised like someone spiked his milk with lemon juice. And Spence walks around mostly looking like a poor mans Hugh Jackman. In the end, it's all kind of pointless though, because everyone dies but Alice. And if that upsets you at all, don't cry...because, hey, clones.

Of course all kinds of shenanigans go on, everyone kind of just walks around completely unmolested by zombies until apparently every zombie teleports right on top of them. And this brings one of my biggest gripes with the film, which is almost every action scene never really ends. I mean the scene does end, but it's like they chop off the last part where the heroes get away. They'll be surrounded by zombies, and then *blam* they'll be in a safe place licking their wounds. It's like the Red Queen can teleport them out of danger.

And that reminds me, the Red Queen. Oh, she had good intentions, in fact the she had the bright idea of locking the infection deep underground forever. She even said this multiple times through the movie. What does she get for her trouble? She gets called homicidal.....yelled at, and eventually killed (don't worry, she comes back somehow as a super villain). Honestly, she was the hero of the story, if everyone else just listened and did what she said....there most likely would have been no issues.

Now, it seems like I'm picking on the movie a fair deal, and truth be told, I am. It does have it's moments, and occasionally there are bits where I think someone got lazy and just went onto the next bit without fully fleshing the scene out. But considering this was a movie with a very low budget, and had such a troubled history prior to being finished, it is a fairly decent film. Probably one of Paul W.S. Anderson's most watchable films, right behind Event Horizon, and a little bit ahead of Mortal Kombat (mostly because MK is so balls out terrible it will always be good). I have come to like this movie a fair bit. Mostly because it forges it's own path. Rather than set itself within the confines of already established characters the fans have come to know, Anderson set about in an alternative history kind of story. And honestly I liked the approach then, and I still like it now. Of course it all goes downhill rather fast after this.

But that is a tale for another time.

Humor Tumor is watching all these movies so you don't have to. Coming soon: Uwe Boll's possible best film, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.

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