(In theaters, March 2002) I’m usually a very forgiving viewer when it comes to zombie films or videogame adaptations, so don’t blame me if I liked Resident Evil for what it tried to be; a trashy-but-fun B-grade horror/action film. The first thirty minutes are easily the best (save from one boffo last shot), with a finely-tuned sense of pervasive dread that promises much more than it delivers. It’s much more pedestrian after that (alas!), but it never stops being fun in its B-grade kind of way. For director Paul W.S. Anderson, it’s nowhere near the terrifying atmosphere of Event Horizon or even the pure good kung-fu fun of Mortal Kombat, but at least it’s a step up from the putrid Soldier. There isn’t a while lot of originality to the plotline (watch and identify the sources: Aliens, Romero, Half-Life, Cube, etc…) but it’s handled with some visual deftness and a script that doesn’t attempt to be anything but zombie fun. It’s a bit frustrating to imagine how much better this film could have been if it had pushed the limits of its R-rating, here grossly wasted by a near-complete absence of gore and nudity. The acting is unremarkable, save for Michelle Rodriguez, who essentially reprises the same character she’s played in her last two films. As far as zombie films go, it’s a good one. Take it for what it’s worth!
(Second viewing, In theaters, June 2002) Audacious directing can save a film from total boredom, and my second viewing of Resident Evil shows that even though director Paul Anderson may be a total moron when it comes to writing stories, he’s actually not all that bad when it comes to showing a story on screen. The script is still weak and highly derivative, but the rhythm is sustained, there are a few nice technical flourishes and the actors hold their own. I still like it as a B-grade zombie film. It’s not as good as it ought to have been, but it’ll do.