Resident Evil: The Review of Death
Part One: resident evil
I will preface by saying two things in regards to reviewing in general as well as reviewing these specific movies. It's been eight years since I've written a review of anything, as well as it has been eight years since I've written a public review of anything, as I used to do in the entertainment section of our high school's news magazine. I am not a professional writer, I do not work for the media in any way, I do not run an entertainment-review devoted blog that I think somehow empowers me and qualifies me to have an opinion. I'm a student, a civilian, a technologist, a gamer, a nerd, a liberal, and Jewish. Just an everyday normal person that, like most normal people, actually have a brain in their heads, as opposed to the monkey suits we are expected to listen to in the mainstream media.
That having been said, I will preface this review by stating two things in specific about the first movie: No one's opinion on this movie or this movie series matters to me even if you agree with me, in the slightest bit, though I'm sure most reviews will label these films with similar results as my own, though certainly they will be significantly less scathing or enlightened.
Obviously reviewing a movie several years after it came out, even several years after it came out on DVD/ HD-DVD/Blu-Ray seems quite retroactive, but I am prompted by my recent acquisition of the Blu-Ray of the series to finally start writing reviews again, starting with my opinion on the dramatization of the best video game franchise in the history of video game franchises. Either way, I feel I should give this film series the review it deserves from someone who actually knows what they're talking about. One thing I will admit off the bat: I've seen all three movies at least twenty times, so no matter what I say, obviously the movies were enjoyable (though most of the views are the result of a combination of procrastination and intense boredom). In fact, I'm watching the first movie right now and I have it minimized, because I know the script for the movies so well I don't even need to look at the video.
In 2002 when the first movie was released, Resident Evil was still in it's youth, though growing at dramatic speed. Only four years had passed since the first amazing game was released on the Playstation, and in short order RE2, RE3, and Code Veronica had been released ( admittedly Code Veronica being the last public review I had written). In light of all this, I and my friend among all of our other colleagues were greatly pleased by news of this Hollywood rendition of Resident Evil coming to our theaters in the summer. However, this review is not about the Resident Evil games, which in my opinion don't necessarily even merit any criticism of significance.
Obviously it was established immediately that the Resident Evil movie was not a Hollywood rendition of the video games (no video game movie ever has been, with the exception perhaps of Mortal Kombat), but it was instead based upon the universe created in the Resident Evil games. Technically that doesn't really please any fans of the Resident Evil series. No matter how much anyone, including me, loves the lore and the fictional universe developed by Capcom®, it's easy to say we'd rather see a live action rendition of the events we had to suffer through in the games rather than a Hollywood (and inherently ludicrous) version of different events.
The movie begins and a guy spiels about Umbrella, speaking of lore which matches very accurately that established in the video game universe, fans rejoice. We are introduced through the eyes of a wall to the Hive laboratory complex, getting an up close and personal look at the Tyrant virus, a cute bunny, and its involvement in testing the anti-virus vaccination. Then we are personally introduced to a virus containment apparatus which seems is being loaded with all the available samples of the virus and anti-virus from this cute bunny room. So far, so good, everything is as high tech as expected from Umbrella, and the colors of the viral strains are accurate to the game. Then the shit appears to hit the fan as our friend Spence can be somewhat identified tossing the virus on the floor , indicating to all Resident Evil gamers that the shit has just officially knocked the fan over and turned the fan itself into more shit.
The following events detail to us (as much detail as any Resident Evil gamer or person with an imagination needs) the ensuing viral outbreak and sanitation of the Hive laboratory complex, ending with a woman assumedly being decapitated by an elevator. Funnily enough, later on her head is nowhere to be seen at the elevator bank, assuming it was chopped off, which you would only logically deduce if a woman were put in a computer controlled guillotine with a blade (the solid steel floor) travelling at her head at x miles per hour , the only conclusive deduction judging by how concerned they all are that the elevator next to them has just murdered a plural number of people by free falling about a thousand feet. Insert retarded part number one, they could easily have pulled her back into the elevator or similarly pushed her out of the elevator. Those doors don't get stuck, they're designed to be manually opened in the event of emergency. Ridiculous, excusable, but unforgiveable.
Cut from the crisis in the laboratory to a rather cute and naked Jovavich laying on her shower floor, covered only by a shower curtain, which obviously she had the foresight to pull from the shower curtain rod and cover herself with lest anyone see her naked, alone, in a mansion. The following shots establish that she is suffering from amnesia, yet she can still navigate her own house quite perfectly. Unfortunately for me, this is where the movie starts its downward spiral , though very slowly at this point. She gets scared of the wind, which is completely understandable. Everything about the Spencer mansion is frightening and unsettling, I might be inclined to run away from the wind as well, though in the game they sought shelter in the mansion after being chased by a whole shit ton of Cerberi (zombie dogs.), so everything in and around the Blair Witch 2 looking mansion and the Arklay Woods is uncomfortable in any rendition. Suddenly, oh my gods! A copper grabs her and apparently intends to rape her back, and then cue in the obnoxiously loud and annoying techno music as an Umbrella special forces team busts through the window and the doors, though in real life as well as the video games they would have used the doors exclusively for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that breaking windows quite conspicuously announces their arrival, as well as simultaneously compromising the security of their position if in fact enemy combatants were within the premises.
Here I must digress from a strict focus on the movie and begin the first of several comparisons to Resident Evil itself, though I will chronologically continue the review in the background with the things I criticize. The Umbrella team is quite professional, not to mention arrogant, and ignorant. In many ways this perfectly recreates the Umbrella Special Forces operatives from all the Resident Evil games, though it is unacceptably illogical and unforgiveable for so many reasons. Paramount of all these reasons is a very simple one, an oversight seemingly impossible for "intelligent" writers, which obviously shows you two things: Writers are morons, and movies are intentionally written as unrealistically as possible for the sole purpose of plot progression and consistency. An Umbrella Special Forces unit sent to contain, or to have any involvement with anything whatsoever (in Resident Evil this almost exclusively means a form of violent combat action), is going to be very well informed of all the tactical details of the situation. Now inherently, as they are higher status employees in most circumstances than actual Umbrella researchers, shift workers, whatever, they are going to know what they are getting into. No company involved in ethical businesses needs it's own professionally trained para-military organizations, so it only stands to reason in the job interview or at some point during the course of their career they would have inquired as to "So uh, why do you Ivy League doctor kids need tanks and marines?" . So obviously, by the dictates of common Eff'ing sense, the Umbrella team sent to the Hive : a) Knew the layout of the Hive beforehand , b) Knew that Umbrella was built solely to research and engineer bio-organic and viral weaponry and most importantly, C) Was informed of vital tactical information such as the fact that the only way to defeat any of the Tyrant virus mutations was a massive trauma to the brain. In fact, this is deductible not only by the logical constraints of the established Resident Evil universe, but in real life by actual police, military, and para-military forces. Ask the S.W.A.T, Delta Force, SEALS, whatever force, it's a very public and well established fact : Two in the chest, one in the head. Subsequently by virtue of all, or any of the preceding facts, everyone not only in the first movie, but every Resident Evil movie, and every zombie move in history, should be aware of how to kill zombies, because they are killed the same away as a human being: the head. Shooting people anywhere but the head is a foolishly optimistic and merciless method of killing them. If you were to be killed by gunshot, would you rather bleed to death from your heart or would you rather just die instantly? Easy fucking decision.
Now that all these facts have established the inherent stupidity and absurdity of not only Resident Evil but all zombie movies, it's time to address the few remaining things of note in the movie.
When they discover Spence on the tram en route to the Hive, behind a forcibly shut door, they don't have the common sense to look in the conductor's chamber of the tram for a nanosecond to notice there's a black duffel bag on the floor. What do they think he was doing? Going on vacation into the Hive at the exact time it went Chernobyl? In addition to that, having established both in this review and in the movie through the dialogue itself the Umbrella teams knowledge of the situation and the facility, they OBVIOUSLY should have realized, considering that the leader knew Alice and Spence were security operatives, married to each other, that this random man in the tram was Spencer. This is what I said about intentional unrealistic writing solely for the sake of plot progression and filming. Now, of course, if there were any tint of reality whatsoever to this movie, an intelligent team of Umbrella operatives would have acted out the following script I have so brilliantly concocted.
Medic : Lie still.
(Spencer groggily fidgets around, lying supine on the tram floor)
Medic: I said lie still!
Medic: Follow the light.
(Spencer follows the light with his head, barely able to lift it, though lying otherwise motionless)
Medic: How many fingers am I holding up?
(Kaplan meanwhile steps past the two into the tram conductors chamber, looking for anything of concern)
Kaplan: Found something!
One: Bring it out here.
(Kaplan picks up the duffel bag, moving back into the main room of the tram, and sets it on the floor next to Spencer)
One: What's in the bag?
Spencer: What? ……. I don't know?
(Kaplan exchanges glances with the commander, crouching on the steel floor of the tram over the duffel bag. One nods, and Kaplan proceeds to open the bag.)
Kaplan: What the hell? (he produces a shiny silver lunchbox out of the duffel bag, emblazoned with the universally recognizable biohazard symbol).
One: Open it.
(Kaplan opens the lunchbox because realistically if he had the ability to decode the door locks within the laboratory he could figure out a simple four digit encryption on a temporary biohazard transportation container)
(The lunchbox hisses open, some pressurized gas spewing from within the container like dry ice)
Kaplan: ..it's the virus!
Rain: Alright, pack it up. Fuck this shit let's get the hell out of here.
One: No. We have to find out what happened down here.
Rain: What the fuck did you say? The lab automatically seals in an hour, we don't have to do a damn thing. We have the most important piece of company property down here, let's get the fuck out before that homicidal bitch kills the rest of us, too!
One: Oh, good point.
One: Kaplan, can you reverse the train and send us back to the mansion?
Kaplan: The tram travels automatically to its destination, we won't be able to change directions en route. We'll have to wait until we get to the loading dock.
One: Alright, let's do it.
End of fucking movie.
(Why Kaplan? Because Kaplan is obviously the smartest one in the entire group, being the technologist (though he is initially too stupid to realize his turning the Hive off released the zombies) though in a realistic scenario such as my script his display of such possible stupidity would never have occurred because the situation would have ended while they were ahead)
Obviously for the sake of entertainment and intentional irritation of the viewing public, this is not what happened, otherwise the story would have had too happy of an ending and been 30 minutes long. Which frankly would be only fitting, considering that in order to get an A rank in the game, you have to beat it in under an hour, not shoot anyone, and not waste time and health.
Unfortunately this isn't the only thing that pisses me off about the film, it's just one of many things. I'm going to digress from the review for now and simply list them, hopefully in chronological order of their occurrence.
They try to go through the labs which, when looking at the 3d layout of the hive on his wristputer, was a fucking retarded idea in the first place, even if there weren't zombies everywhere. Going down the stairs through the "dining hall" was obviously the most direct route to the Queen's Chamber, though it may have taken a slightly greater amount of time.
The team approaches the good old laser hallway ( of course not knowing it's a laser hallway because after all it's not like they are security operatives and KNOW intimate details about the Hive facility). Ol' Shiny kills all but five of them. This is inexcusably and inarguably the stupidest fucking scene of any movie ever produced anywhere around the globe and I would go so far as to include the entire universe, assuming there are an intelligent sentient race of beings on a planet or space station somewhere that produce fictional motion pictures to sublimate their subconscious desires and distract themselves from their mortal boredom. I've already established the governing principles of why everything I will list is absurd to the point of insensitivity, but I'll restate it for fun.
How the fuck does this team of operatives not realize, after explicitly stating that the Red Queen has its own defensive systems, that there's a LASER hallway governed by an obviously intensely complex algorithmic program that can readjust in real time to sensory information gathered on its "assailants" so well that it can actually trick them in addition to killing them? Now, ignoring that, because when faced by a fictional and non-existent laser hallway governed by intensely complex algorithms, even an Olympic gold medal gymnast would be most certainly boned if trying to outmaneuver it, let's examine the other absurdities of Ol' Shiny. There are spaces on both ends of the hallway which quite blatantly are not susceptible, insofar as the two movies starring Ol' Shiny are inclined to show us, to the reaches of said laser hallway. Use what little common sense that you (as a person in the movie) obviously don't have and hide your stupid body in the ample space afforded by the blind spots at both ends of the laser hallway. At least two of you can survive to watch the rest of your friends die. Is it possible that the laser hallway could adjust its parameters and manage to project a laser beam beyond the reach of the system of mirrors and googamajigs behind the glass on either side of the wall? You could speculate so, but in the movie it doesn't happen, and judging by what mechanical knowledge I have of nonexistent infallible laser grid hallways, the laser beam requires amplification on both ends of the hallway to be effective (or else the lasers wouldn't be so obviously anchored and "generated" by both sides of the hallway), so I don't imagine that one side of the hallway itself would be able to project a dangerous laser beam on its own, or else they would have made the laser hallway scene far more complex because it is in fact probably the most CG intensive scene in the movie, so they may as well have made it worth the massive sacrifice of credibility and characters.
You may have thought at this point that Ol' Shiny's fifteen minutes were up at the end of that run-on sentence, but rest assured, they aren't. Having established the precedent that Ol Shiny can cover the entire Z-axis with an inescapable laser grid capable of slicing easily through not only human flesh but solid metal, it is interesting that the computer components to the Red Queen mainframe stored in the duffel bags carried by the victims of said laser grid did not get destroyed. They most certainly were passed through by the lasers. There is no differentiation between molecular densities or any such chemical properties of metal in the course of the hallway scene to establish any logical basis which informs the audience that the lasers can only cut "certain metals". Now perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps the combat knives carried by the Umbrella operatives are composed of a carbon fiber polymer that is more malleable than steel or whatever the mainframe components are made of(or whatever the hell they actually are) and that explains why they can be cut. I just love the incredibly large holes in logic we are expected to overlook in movies these days for the sake of entertainment.
On top of that, there is one thing that always severely pisses me off not only in zombie movies, but all movies that feature arms of any kind. Why the fuck would you intentionally discard your arms? Why!? There is NO reasonable excuse for discarding your weapons in any situation whatsoever unless they literally weigh so much it reduces your chance of surviving. In Resident Evil the film this is not the case. The Springfield 1911, the Heckler and Koch MP5K, the Heckler and Koch G36, the Beretta 92FS, whatever .357 looking revolver Kaplan had, NONE of those firearms would have been a burden on them in any situation. Yes, they ran out of ammo (because they're too god damn stupid to aim for the head.) If "people" are coming at you that obviously are walking on broken feet, are missing half their heads, their bodies are decomposed, you aren't stupid enough to have any hope that there is salvation for these mutated creatures. Regardless, in a zombie scenario, you don't drop your weapons. Weapons can always be used as clubs. Clubs may not necessarily be the most effective anti-zombie weapon, but they're better than your body. In addition lets examine the reality and the inherent ramifications in reality of abandoning your weapons. First of all, they're Umbrella employees. If they make it out of there, they have to go back to work afterwards. Umbrella's going to scold the shit out of them , dock their pay, maybe even fire them, for leaving several thousand dollars of company assets half a mile underground in a contaminated and compromised research laboratory. Secondly, it's mentally retarded to drop your gun because in the case of Resident Evil, there is a 100% chance you're going to get more ammunition because , as I will touch on later, Resident Evil is not a zombie apocalypse franchise. Resident Evil is a science fiction franchise about corporate sin, scientific and business ethics, and dirty warfare. Every incident that occurs in Resident Evil is an incident, not a part of a global doomsday. There will be more ammo, unless they managed to use billions of bullets, and at the same time all the workers of all the firearms industries die or go on strike.
Other than those things, there aren't more things I find unforgiveable with the movie itself. However, there are things that are retarded in terms of discrepancy between the game and movies. In the movie, lickers are intentionally manufactured BOWs, as opposed to the licker lore of the games (or so you would assume. They never explain in the movie how the lickers come to be, or call them lickers) . In the Resident Evil series, a Licker is formed by a further mutation of the Crimson Head zombie variant, assumedly by consumption of fresh host blood. This in turn has the potential to mutate Crimson Head zombies further into fullblown lickers. Granted, this explanation for lickers is introduced YEARS and YEARS after Resident Evil 2 came out, after it was already established that the Tyrant virus has no ability to cause further mutation in human hosts after the zombie stage, in contrast to the newly developed G virus which forces severe mutation in mammalian hosts each time they integrate additional DNA into their bodies by feeding on a fresh victim. This part of the movie pissed me off the most because they combined the T and the G virus into one ultra virus, as shown by the licker immediately mutating into a full blown G Imago after it killed Spencer, the G Imago being the first boss in Resident Evil 2.
Before I wrap up this first third of the review, I have to make one more obvious observation on the massive inconsistencies in the movie. When Alice wakes up in the abandoned hospital and she makes it out alive, we are treated to her stepping into an absolutely fucked up Raccoon City and taking a shotgun from a police cruiser. It looks like it's about one P.M or so on a rather dreary day, and the entire city area you are shown is derelict and destroyed. Now, we have to put this in a time frame, because obviously the second movie rewinds an unspecified amount of time to show us how the city becomes a wasteland, though it does a terrible job. When she steps out, it's most definitely early in the day. When Resident Evil Apocalypse picks up, it's obviously at some point early in the day (as established by Angela still being at school and one of the researchers being in a bath robe, assuming these are somewhat respectable citizens and they don't sleep all day (obviously overlooking their involvement in incredibly unethical and illegal research when we label them as respectable citizens)). However, in the shots you see afterwards the city seems quite uninfected during the day and it seems that by nightfall a vast amount of the civilians trying to escape through the Umbrella quarantine check point at the Ravens Gate Bridge are still uninfected. It is not until late at night we are informed through the reflection of a motorcycle cop/umbrella special operatives reflective helmet visor that the entire city has finally become the Necropolis. However, it is important to interject that the establishing scene of Jill Valentine is during the day and a zombie outbreak *seems* to be ubiquitous. Either way, the last shot of Resident Evil is of a terribly wrecked, congested, and abandoned street (assume it's main street and that the streets which are navigable are less important) is during the day. It is NOT possible for this shot to have happened the day after the outbreak (outbreak in terms of citywide) because at that point the city has been nuked. Now, it is possible to suppose that Alice was kept in the Hospital facility for a few days after the Hive (it seems odd that they would intentionally wait a long period of time to reopen the Hive), so perhaps as in the game it actually took a few days for the entire city to become infected, which would explain Jills familiarity with how to kill the zombies. Of all the bothersome things in the first movie I'll concede that this one is just convoluted as opposed to absolutely absurd and impossible, but nonetheless it's a plot hole that's rather annoying.
Having said all the negatives, I must admit as other Resident Evil fans did, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The action was pretty close to the games, the situations were somewhat reminiscent, and they did stay as close to legitimate consistency with the game universe as they could I must say. Additionally, the CG is great, the zombies and makeup and wardrobe are pretty excellent, and the movie is definitely rewatchable. Despite my uber nerd problems with the entire movie series, I give Resident Evil four and a half out of five stars.