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Resident Evil

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 12/29/04 12:52:56

"Half-naked Milla Jovovich shoots zombies - why isn't this fun?"
1 stars (Sucks)

There are four kinds of zombie movies. There’s the creepy, unsettling kind, like “Night of the Living Dead” and its sequels. There’s the dumb fun, shoot ‘em up, mindless action kind, like “Ghosts of Mars.” There’s Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” where we first learned that Michael is “not like other guys.” And then there’s the rest.

By “the rest,” I mean the lousy knock-offs, the uninteresting cheapos, and “Resident Evil,” the latest failed attempt to take a video game and turn it into a movie. Not having played the games, I can’t tell you how faithful/unfaithful the film is to its source. But as a stand-alone work, it’s simply quite terrible.

“Evil” has something to do with a villainous megacorporation called Umbrella (think AOL-Time Warner gone more evil than usual), which has some top secret underground facility where they make deadly viruses and do nasty genetic research. It turns out somebody set one of these nasty viruses loose in the top secret underground facility, which somehow caused the master computer in charge of security to kill everybody inside.

This sorta makes sense in a B movie kind of way, but then we get some elite group of cops/soldiers/whatever coming in to shut down the computer and figure out what went wrong. The computer doesn’t like this, and starts killing these guys. Then zombies appear (the virus, it seems, raises the dead), and they try to eat our heroes as well. There’s also some kind of slimy monster beast thing roaming around that appears whenever the plot runs out of better things to do.

It all sounds like glorious dumb fun, yes? Not really. You see, the film’s neither scary nor fun. Sure, the movie made me jump a few times, only because the “jump scares” are presented so loudly, you’d have to be deaf not to jump. Is that a good thing? Of course not; it’s the equivalent of having some jackass sneak up on you and blow an air horn. After twenty times, it’s going to get old. That’s just lazy filmmaking.

Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (“Mortal Kombat,” “Event Horizon”), “Evil” plows ahead with such a gusto that I almost wanted to admire its spirit. It seldom slows down, rarely granting the audience a break. If the action was the least bit interesting, this might have resulted in a relentless frightfest. Sadly, the action is dull as dirt, making the non-stop experience less than thrilling; the only exciting parts come when the film bothers to rip off better works, like Romero’s “Dead” series, “Cube,” and, to a lesser extent, “The Stand.”

It doesn’t help matters that Anderson waits too long to bring in some kind of character development; by the time we’ve stopped to pay attention to the heroes, we could care less about them. Hell, I can’t even tell you a single character name. I know there was the woman played by Milla Jovovich, and the other one played by Michelle Rodriguez, and the guy in the blue shirt, and the guy in the black shirt, and the other guy, and the folks that get killed early on. That’s as deep as the film gets.

Not that I’d be complaining about a lack of depth if only the thrills and chills would be there. As it stands, the story’s predictability removes any real surprises, and the decision to go for sudden shocks instead of slow, creepy thrills results in a action-horror combo that’s far too irritating in its unyielding loudness.

Maybe fans of the video game series will find more to like here, but frankly, I doubt it. The movie’s too unremarkable to really matter, with nothing scary here except for some awful acting and lame special effects. I found myself checking my watch every few minutes, wondering how long until the credits. That makes “Evil” a thriller without a single thrill.

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