Plot: What’s it about?
There are certain movies that are guilty pleasures. Actually, for me, that’s quite an extensive list. Case in point, I remember watching the first Resident Evil movie in which one character met his fate by being trapped in a hallway with a laser that matched his every move. It eventually patterned itself into a grid and the character – well, ended up it tiny little bits. I don’t know why that scene resonated with me after two decades, but there you have it…it’s been two decades since the first Resident Evil film. I was never big into video games, but from my limited research, this one was pretty well-received (or at least enough to have a major studio make a film franchise around it). And, let’s face it, the films starred Milla Jovovich. I was still enamored with her performance from The Fifth Element. I was smitten. So now, here we are, after several films later back to where it all began. Actually, this is back before it all began. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing, right?
We see Raccoon City, the once-thriving town that was decimated after the aptly-named Umbrella Corporation moved their headquarters elsewhere. Claire (Kaya Scodelario) grew up in the orphanage and has now returned to warn her brother, Chris (Robbie Amell) that said corporation is still up to no good. The person who may or may not be behind it, William (Neil McDonough) is a scientist from their past who always seemed to but Claire the wrong way. Chris finds this hard to swallow until things start to go awry. Had the film focused on the sibling rapport, it could have worked. But we keep meeting new characters like Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen) and Leon (Avan Jogia). Eventually they all manage to come together (literally) and discover why the locals are have turned into, well, zombies.
Odds are that if you’ve seen this (or plan to) then you somewhat know the story of Resident Evil. If not, it’s really not that difficult to figure out. And, let’s face it, if you played these games when they came out, odds are that you’re in your 40’s nowadays. Do they really need to target these films at that demographic? I guess so. In all fairness, the film does deliver on what we all know it’ll deliver – some decent action sequences and some awful-looking creatures. In one segment, there’s a scene that has Jennifer Paige’s hit “Crush” as the backdrop. Clever. The bottom line (well, actually, that’s a few paragraphs down) is that if you’re a fan of these films, this one offers more of the same. But there’s no Milla Jovovich. If that’s a spoiler, then you’re clearly not a fan of these films. But it’s got some entertaining scenes and does set the stage should Alice re-enter the picture.
Video: How’s it look?
Each of the Resident Evil movies have had their own unique look ranging from the stark white of the second one to the earthy-toned third installment. This latest one features a sharp and crisp look and there’s a bit of underlying grain, though it fits well with the theme of the film. There’s plenty of intricate detail to be found, the different monsters that pop up throughout all have their different looks to them. Whites are very white, no blooming here and the characters seem a bit muted in comparison to some of the other elements involved. Taking into account the visuals alone, this one is worth checking out.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The Resident Evil movies might be lacking in plot, but they excel in the technical categories. Let’s see, where should we begin…dialogue is rich and crystal clear and if you can factor out what’s actually being said, it’s amazing. The front stage soaks up most of the action and effects but the LFE are very, very active and take control on more than one occasion. Surrounds are almost constantly humming away adding some depth to the scene. If this DTS HD Master Audio mix isn’t quite enough for you, there’s a 4K version that has a Dolby Atmos mix – that should fit the bill nicely.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Replicating the DNA – If you remember the first two Resident Evil games (and I don’t), we get this feature that shows us how they paid homage to the ones that paved the way.
- Cops, Corpses and Chaos – Essentially a montage of scenes from the film, director Johannes Roberts dishes on the mood, the shoot and so forth. In essence, typical EPK fluff.
- Zombies, Lickers and the Horrors of Resident Evil – If awful-looking creatures are your thing, this one will be of interest. We get a look at some of the rather unique monster-looking things seen throughout the film.
The Bottom Line
I remember seeing the first Resident Evil movie back in 2002 and, at the time, I’d have not thought that the franchise had enough in it to last two decades. You can add that to the list of things I’d be wrong about. This isn’t the best of the bunch, but it’s not the worst either. I can imagine that if you sat down for a weekend and watched all the Underworld films on one day and Resident Evil on the next – you’d be in for a very interesting Monday morning.