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Resident Evil

movie review out of 4

*Also starring: James Purefoy, Colin Salmon, Eric Mabius, Heike Makatsch, Michaela Dicker, Pasquale Aleardi

Review by Edward Johnson-Ott
0 stars out of 4

The future of daily newspapers if corporations like Gannett continue gobbling them up. A concert by the remnants of the Beach Boys. The fact that Dan Burton keeps getting reelected. Any recent photo of Michael Jackson.

These are just a few things scarier than "Resident Evil."

Based on an incredibly popular series of video games, "Resident Evil" is an absolutely wretched horror film about zombies. Now, I enjoy a good zombie flick as much as the next guy. George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" remains one of the most terrifying movies ever made. Romero's sequel, "Dawn of the Dead," effectively mixed horror and heavy-handed, but entertaining, social satire. Wes Craven's "The Serpent and the Rainbow" took a more realistic look at the subject and the results were extremely frightening.

"Resident Evil" has only two scenes of note, which I will describe now. The first shows the gorgeous Milla Jovovich (best known as the red-haired universe-savior from "The Fifth Element") crushing the head of a zombie with her thighs of steel and the second depicts a man getting sliced into small diamond-shaped chunks by a laser beam. Gross, yet cool.

To enjoy those two brief moments, you must sit through 100 minutes of pure tedium, with visuals ripped off from other films. I've complained repeatedly over the last few years about movies made by technicians rather than artists and this is one of the most blatant examples yet. The credits list the film as being "written and directed" by Paul W.S. Anderson. Right. "Programmed by" would be a more accurate credit.

The movie opens with a deadly virus being unleashed in some facility. Locked in by its defense system, the staff dies. Cut to Jovovich, who wakes up in a mansion and can't remember anything. She soon becomes a reluctant member of a small troop of stereotypical hard-asses determined to learn what happened within the decimated joint. Besides Jovovich, the sole actor that makes any impression whatsoever is Michelle Rodriguez ("Girlfight") and the sole reason she makes an impression is because she wears the same scowl and uses the same tough girl inflection every second she is onscreen.

In between lame zombie attacks, the crew travels through a maze-like series of hallways, encountering various opponents along the way. Yes, it sounds exactly like a standard issue video game, except that instead of playing it, you're watching it. The opponents include poorly computer-animated demon dogs, some slimy reptilian thing that is apparently very popular with fans of the game, and the Red Queen, a personification of the facility computer that takes the form of a little girl with a British accent. Incidentally, if any of these descriptions sounds interesting, let me assure you that what you see in the film is not.

I could go on, but why? "Resident Evil" is as dead as the zombies that trudge through it. Wait a minute, I just thought of one more thing scarier than "Resident Evil." "Resident Evil 2."

Copyright 2002 Edward Johnson-Ott

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