So imagine yourself sitting in a theater, you've been waiting for this movie, RESIDENT EVIL to come out. George Romero worked on it, it's based on the wildly successful game, and they are going to give a reasonable explanation as to why the whole NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD thing happened, right? In fact, that's all the director of this flick keeps talking about. That RESIDENT EVIL is like a prequel to NIGHT, DAWN, and DAY OF THE DEAD. Pretty big shoes to fill, right? But hey, if George could do it on a shoe string budget, imagine what they can do with the story line and a decent budget?
Guess what? They couldn't do much.
Don't you just love movies that start out with a lot of exposition? Where you see line after line of words on the screen? Sure, it worked for Star Wars. Then again, when those words were done, Star Wars came out blasting!
Or hey, don't you just love movies where somebody is talking line after line of exposition to you? And it goes on and on, minute after minute?
Well, RESIDENT EVIL has got you coming and going. They have all this text on the screen, right? But just in case you're some illiterate dipshit, they also have some clod READING the words on the screen to you! I half expected a woman to chirp in with "beep, beep, turn the page!"
The voice and text at the start of the movie tells us that this super evil Umbrella corporation is the largest in the world. But nobody, not even the people who work for it, know what its top secret project is - that of creating genetic mutants.
STOP! Now come on! All of these people are working on genetic mutants for this company and they... they just have NO IDEA? I mean, genetic engineering is not like being a short order cook where you fry the burger but someone else adds the parsley for God's sake!
We are also told in all of this exposition that though said evil company is the largest in the world, they make most of their money by doing these secret genetic experiments for the government!
Now come on! Since when has ANY company made more money from the government than they would in the private sector? You think that Microsoft would have got so big just off of government money? Government money COMES from the private sector, i.e. tax dollars! Even if you threw all the tax dollars together for one year, that isn't as much as people can spend on their own! If it was, nobody would work. What would be the point?
All this exposition crap really puts you off your feed with this flick which is too damn bad (and I'm a man who likes to feed!). Because if they just cut all that crap out, RESIDENT EVIL suddenly becomes (tah dah!) A MUCH BETTER MOVIE!
So after the exposition, we see the underground bunker of the lab. Everyone is going about their work and someone is carefully handling bright blue curly cue bottles of something blue. This faceless person then tosses one of the bottles causing it to break. The fumes get into the ventilation system and this sets off the computer controlled auto shut down, trapping everyone inside. The people try to get out but apparently the security computer (called The Red Queen) realizes that everyone is infected and will do whatever it takes to keep them from escaping. Merry Mishaps ensue.
Then we go to a somewhere completely different place - seemingly separated from the events we just saw. A nameless woman (Milla Jovovich) wakes up in a shower and wanders through a mansion (the mansion that they should be meeting all the scary creeps in, but this movie virtually disenfranchises the game entirely. What a great way to hold your core audience!). She doesn't seem to know who she is or where she is and what happens is that the movie starts all over again for the third time! Then some guy shows up and before she knows who he is, commandoes come crashing in through the windows. Merry Mishaps occur again.
Anyway, at this point I'm beginning to see why George Romero washed his hands of RESIDENT EVIL. When George tells a story, You Are There! And without any exposition crap either! You jump into the action and you go, learning along the way. Show don't tell. The sign of a great story teller.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson (EVENT HORIZON) also wrote this flick. With a bit more thinking, he could have actually made something great, and there's the rub. This is the second time that Paul has come close to, but not actually, made a good Horror film.
Based on the wildly popular console games by Capcom, RESIDENT EVIL opened in the U.S. to a $17.7 million dollar weekend. Not bad for a movie that only cost $33 mil. But after that first weekend, the word was out. The second weekend saw only 6.7 mil. The weekend after that? $2.9. In the two months it was at the first run theaters, RESIDENT EVIL fell off the top ten in two weeks. It dropped from an opening 2528 screens to a pathetic 67 screens. And despite the big opening, it didn't break even at the theaters.
Just because a movie goes belly up at the box office doesn't mean it was a bad flick. There are many great movies that bomb at the box office, only to be resurrected to deserved popularity on video: John Carpenter's THE THING is one example. So is MEMENTO, PI, and THE CUBE. But those movies were all reaching for new audiences, where RESIDENT EVIL had its audience built in! There was such confidence in it that studio bosses had Anderson inked to direct RESIDENT EVIL 2: Nemesis before RESIDENT EVIL had hit the screens!
The audience was Anderson's to lose and few found favor with it. Those that did seem to be voracious, but the core audience, those who could make or break it, decided to wait until it hit the video stores rather than pay the big bucks.
What went wrong? Well, besides the horribly bad opening, the second great opening, and the third confused opening, (the middle beginning is the best - the automatic lock down of the secret lab is the most exciting part of the whole movie) the film was awash in plot hole after plot hole.
One ridiculous concept after another screwed this picture big time and even its most ardent supporters beg you to judge it based only on the action or soundtrack or the action with the soundtrack or at least the beauty of star Milla Jovovich and her ultra quick nude scenes.
Hey, I've got an idea! How about we judge the movie based on its own merits instead of all the trinkets added after? Hey? How about we base our judgment on the fact that we don't have to bend over backwards to forgive and forget and put out of our minds all the bullshit going on before our very eyes?
The real dichotomy here is that Paul Anderson is a good director, especially with action sequences. What's more, he can squeeze the tension and edge of your seat thrills out of any scene. But though Paul is a good director (he could be a great director if he could get the damn cinematographer, David Johnson, to keep the boom mike and other film equipment out of the damn camera shots!) he absolutely SUCKS at writing a story!
Someday a studio boss is going to hand Paul Anderson a story he didn't write, say "Go for it, Paul." and Anderson will bust out!
It's happened before. David S. Goyer wrote some of the most awful crap before hitting his stride with BLADE.
Director William Malone wrote even worse garbage with stuff like SCARED TO DEATH, CREATURE, and SUPERNOVA. When the bosses took the writing out of his hands and gave him the remake of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL to direct, Malone freaking ROCKED!I know that it could happen with Paul W.S. Anderson. His direction seems nearly flawless. It's his writing ability that's Swiss cheese.
You can tell I'm disappointed in this movie right? Not simply a case of having watched a bad movie, but having watched a bad movie that I really had hopes for, from a director I liked, with excellent and inventive special effects (supervised by hot German talent Gerd Fuetcher, his first real Horror movie).
But then we have only one single bad ass varmint who hungrily attacks people and tears their clothes but then runs away leaving only smears of blood without actually doing any damage. Apparently it only wants to infect the folks with its genetic impurity.
But hey, when you are making a crappy movie, why not pull out all the stops and have it get an
!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT!!!:
Fortunately, Paul Anderson hasn't made a career out of making movies with the RACIAL CLICHÉ.
RESIDENT EVIL is a messed up jumble of great visuals, action without content, and damn little else. It's dumbed-down, hack, uninspired, cliché ridden, a rip-off of what has gone before and BEEN done better (and I'm thinking ALIENS here among others), and almost lacking in any originality. Worse: It comes nowhere close to being as genuinely scary as the game!
Two Shriek Girls.
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