A deadly virus is set free in a top secret high-tech underground science facility called The Hive, killing everyone inside. A small band of elite soldiers lead by Alice (Milla Jovovich) and Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) is sent in to investigate, but the complex computer that runs The Hive locks them in to prevent the virus from going aboveground. Battling the computer's defences is the least of the team's worries, for they soon discover the virus can re-animate the dead into infectious mutant zombies.
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
What a surprise! I went along knowing nothing about Resident Evil other than it's title and guessing it would sit somewhere sadly between Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy. Part The Andromeda Strain in its leaked virus lockdown, part Night of the Living Dead in its flesh-eating zombie scream-fest, and part Playstation game in its look, this is a fast paced, tense, inventive and unpretentious B-movie. The action sequences are so razor-sharp they can afford to be witty, like the soldier who's sliced and diced by a laser. And there's a fantastic opening sequence when the virus is released and The Hive starts sealing its white-coat worker bees inside glass labs and unsteady elevators. Providing the same steely eyes and limber body as she did in The Fifth Element and Joan of Arc, Milla Jovovich doesn't act her way through Resident Evil as much as provide a number of slightly varied stares (did she take lessons from Zoolander?). But she's effective - especially when she deals with that pack of mutant Dobermans... Girlfighter Michelle Rodriguez is given the more emotional role of the street-smart soldier, which seems like a direct take on Velasquez, the tough-talking female soldier in Aliens. Like so many science fiction movies, Resident Evil is ironically infatuated with technology's guns and gizmos but paranoid by its deadlier implications, like viruses, thinking-computers and genetic manipulation. Of course there are flaws to this sci-fi horror, but at least writer-director Paul Anderson - who also directed Mortal Kombat, one of the first and worst computer games to be adapted into a movie - has not just learned from past experiences, but trumped them. Perhaps I enjoyed this gory B-grade movie so much because I knew nothing about it going in. I've never played Resident Evil. This is the first video game adaptation that makes me want to. It's such schlocky fun it should have been called Attack of the Underground Flesh Eating Zombies. What a riot!
Review by David Edwards:
The video game industry has a lot to answer for after movies like Wing Commander and Mortal Kombat. Resident Evil is based on the game of the same name (also known as Biohazard) and is directed by Paul Anderson (who directed Mortal Kombat and should not be confused with Paul Thomas ďPTĒ Anderson). For the first hour or so, this isnít a bad picture. Anderson stages the set-up with a good deal of flair. His use of flashbacks is excellent, and the idea of the out-of-control supercomputer, although borrowed from 2001: A Space Odyssey, gives the movie a creepy edge. As the team wanders through the apparently deserted building (again, a borrow from Aliens), tension mounts. But then the zombies arrive and any semblance of credibility and subtlety fly out the door. From there on, itís a predictable escape-the-monsters scenario in which the body count (or should that be undead count?) steadily rises. The film ends on a slightly puzzling note; although given whatís gone on before, itís not hard to work out. The ending however neatly sets up Resident Evil 2, should such a dubious proposition ever see the light of day. Milla Jovovich, who was terrific in both The Claim and Zoolander, makes a fine action heroine, even out-Lara Croft-ing Angelina Jolie as an ass-kicking beauty. She really doesnít have to do much in the way of acting though, and itís difficult to see this as a step forward in her career. Michelle Rodriguez as Rain gives her a run for her money in the butt-whipping stakes. The males pretty much have little to do but look good and run a lot. Nothing like a few voracious walking corpses to inspire a little girl power! Despite its promising beginning, Resident Evil ends up being silly, yawn-inducing, badly scripted B-grade nonsense that isnít particularly scary and certainly isnít original.
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RESIDENT EVIL (MA)
CAST: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes
PRODUCER: Paul Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Bernd Eichinger, Samuel Hadida
DIRECTOR: Paul Anderson
SCRIPT: Paul Anderson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Johnson
EDITOR: Alexander Berner
MUSIC: Marco Beltrami, Marilyn Manson (songs by Shawn Crahan, Chris Fehn, Paul Gray, Craig Jones, Joe Jordison, James Root, Corey Taylor, Mich Thompson, Sid Wilson)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Bridgland
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 25, 2002