Monday, October 3, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #3: Resident Evil

This week I continue the 31 Flavors of Horror with four from the same family - kinda like if one were chocolate, another chocolate chip, a third perhaps double chocolate, and the fourth... who'm I kidding? I have never been a huge fan of chocolate and it's a little early to pound the ice-cream allusions into the ground as I have a whole slew of Friday the 13th reviews coming up. 

Anyhow, let's roll through the Resident Evil series. It's my favorite series of video game-based zombie movies that feature the under-rated, seemingly always game Milla Jovovich.


I'm not a gamer. I've never played Resident Evil and some days can't tell an Umbrella from a Raccoon in real life, much less as part of the mythos a best selling series of video games. I do,at least, admire the massive construction project that "The Hive" would be.

Not knowing anything about the backstory kind of leaves the viewer in the same position as Alice in the beginning of the film. She wakes up with memory loss and has to put the plot-exposition pieces together along with the audience. (We, sadly, make no discovery that we're capable of flying roundhouse kicks.) A terrible bio-terrorism weapon has been let loose in the giant underground complex known as "The Hive," and only a singing model, a group of crack soldiers and Ugly Betty's boss can stop it from spreading and turning the whole world into zombies. Needless to say, they do a crap job of it or there wouldn't be three sequels (with a fourth pending).

Video game inspired films, most directed by Uwe Boll, all have a sense of forward motion. They're all "go here, do this." This does keep a movie moving, with a new twist, goal, or reclaimed memory introduced every few minutes. That propulsion makes for entertainment, if not always logical storytelling. What I recommend is "just kick back and go with it." It's been eight years after this came out and the effects and action scenes hold up. The overall aesthetic has also aged very well. This movie looked "cool" when it first came out and it still does. Was this the first big movie to use CGI to accent zombie makeup? It still looks very good, though the completely animated creatures, objects, and (especially) fires have improved since.

Enjoy the gore, the zombies, and the always pleasing Milla Jovovich. She's a gutsy, very physical actress who kicks zombie Rottweilers in the teeth... and always looks fantastic doing it. People get zombified, savaged by CGI monster-hounds, and diced by laser beams... meaning this is some popcorn cinema at it's finest. Along with Jovovich and Eric Mabius, Michelle Rodriguez, who I've never really gotten the appeal of, perfected her standard badass schtick here that she's stuck with ever since. Most of the other characters blend together. Perhaps they're easier to tell apart if you're familiar with the source material, but otherwise they're just glamorous cannon fodder.

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