Wednesday, December 12

Resident Evil Review

I watched on: Netflix
The Price I paid: £0
Notes: This was my first real film review, exciting.

Resident Evil may be the most successful video game film series with 5 films ranging from flawed but fun to the just fantastic. I don’t think any of these are really trying to be groundbreaking, they are just trying to be engaging and fun. The first film which we’re looking at here certainly succeeds because from the first scene you have questions needing answers. Most of the shots feel like they put a lot of effort into their style which leads to a unique feel. We would even see some of the ideas from this film make it into the later games in the series in a strange reverse of the normal status quo for video game films.

We start with someone releasing a virus into a lab and then the AI killing everyone inside. This is the introduction and sets up everything we need to know quickly and smoothly with a good amount of tension. I love how when we learn more this scene makes even more sense. Think about the woman losing her head in the elevator and how to kill the zombies. The labs A.I, Red Queen is set up as the bad guy but when you really look at her actions she has the worlds best interests in mind. All she really wants to do is prevent an outbreak of the T-Virus. After this opening, we cut to our main character Alice as she tries to piece together her missing memory. She lives in an oddly quiet and lonely feeling mansion with nothing but a note and a drawer full of guns as clues. This is cut short when Alice makes contact with a cop and a group of soldiers working for the Umbrella Corporation. They quickly explain that Alice is suffering from amnesia caused by the AI releasing a gas into the mansion. Alice learns from this group that she works for Umbrella as an undercover security unit protecting the entrance to a secret underground lab. The group make their way into this lab which is housed under Raccoon City and manage to deactivate the Red Queen. This causes all the locks to open releasing the T-virus victims. The T-virus which we saw being released during the opening brings the dead back to life but only as undead zombies. The rest of the film follows our group of soldiers and civilians trying to escape this underground lab that may well become their tomb. It’s not groundbreaking but it sets up the action very nicely and the simple escape the lab plot lets the cast shine. All our heroes are likeable with the exception of a few red shirts and the fantastic acting from everyone is what makes you really root for them.

Anyone who has played the first Resident Evil game will be familiar with the mansion and hidden Umbrella lab. This is really only the same in concept however with the film being very different than the games it’s based on. For starters this is not a horror film, it’s very clearly a popcorn action movie. The plot is simple, the characters very charming and the action intense. I both love and hate this. Anyone after a cinematic retelling of the Resident Evil game will not find that here which when I was a teenager caused me to hate these films. As an adult, I enjoy that they didn’t feel trapped by the plot of their source material like so many awful video game films. This is certainly a good thing when you look at films like Assassins Creed, House of the Dead or Mortal Kombat. Although I’m thankful we got a good film with nothing to do with the games I still yearn for the claustrophobic horror film we could have had.

The soundtrack to this film is amazing and really helps you feel the adrenaline pumping through the veins of our cast. This is thanks to Marilyn Manson’s unique fast and dirty sound present in the score. I love this music and honestly, think it’s a shame that Manson was not involved in any films past this first one.

This is a film that knows what it’s doing, the opening with the lack of zombies and emphasis on slow tension is brilliant. Then the slow reveal as both the audience and cast learn what the T-virus victims are that works even if you know from the games or previous viewings. The only kinda bad thing is the Licker because the CGI on this monster has not aged well at all. It always stands out and never really looks like it’s in the scene but it’s only in the film at the end so it’s not a biggie.

I also love the diversity in Resident Evil, our main character is a woman and she kicks more ass than any of the men around her. We then have Rain who is basically Michelle Rodriguez being her kickass self. James Shade is an amazing team leader and person of colour but sadly doesn’t last as long as he deserved to. We do have a lot of cishet white men but they never feel overused and boring like in most action films. This is a group of characters that break away from Hollywood’s normal clich√© cast of angry white men and it deserves a lot of credit for being brave enough to do that. I will say I wish we had more people of colour but despite this Resident Evil is still better than most action films even today for its diversity.

Overall this is an amazing film and one I think most action lovers will enjoy if their fans of the games or not. The make-up and practical effects on the zombies is amazing, the score gets your blood pumping and the plot keeps you paying attention until the very last scene. Probably one of the best video game films ever made even if it has nothing to do with the Resident Evil games.

Recommendation Rating: 9 out of 10.

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