Resident Evil (2002) is the first in a movie franchise based on the Capcom games of the same name. I’m not going to go into detail about the storylines of the videogames, because if you’re a reader of Retrofusion and aren’t familiar with the Resident Evil universe, you shouldn’t be here. But as you are here, this is for the benefit of the one person out there who doesn’t know:
The Umbrella Corporation has been experimenting in weaponry and created a virus (the “T-Virus”) that somehow turns people into zombies. Raccoon City was the location of the first outbreak, and the next few games would see many other mutants and monsters crop up, magical herbs are used to heal wounds, typewriters record game saves, puzzles get solved, self destruct timers get activated, and end-of-game bosses get destroyed by rocket launchers. Resident Evil 4 took the fight to a remote European village, and incorporated improved gameplay mechanics and parasitic zombie villagers. Resident Evil 5 went to Africa, the zombies got too smart to be called zombies and fans got annoyed with the co-op player’s AI.
Resident Evil the movie starts by hitting the viewer with information about the Umbrella Corporation. I hate to dump on a movie in the opening seconds but this one doesn’t help itself. The straight delivery of plot information to the viewer is called exposition, and this is the worst kind. Like a lazy PowerPoint presentation, text appears on screen and a voice reads it out, letting us know in no uncertain terms that the Umbrella Corp is bad. I just wish I could say the dumbing down ends here…
The movie opens beneath Raccoon City in Umbrella's underground lab, called “The Hive”. Straight away the T-Virus is purposely exposed to the air conditioning unit by an unidentified assailant. Cue a computer-controlled shutdown and quarantine of The Hive, at the expense of its workers. Straight away we know the computer is evil, as it uses video cameras to identify hazards and eliminate them, as well as any workers who get in the way. As formulaic as this scene is, it does end on a high by decapitating a poor woman who tries to escape from an elevator. I'll be honest, I thought they were going to let her have a narrow escape, and although the actual head removal is offscreen, it does provide a welcome bit of shock value.
8 minutes and 25 seconds in... BOOM! Milla Jovovich wakes up naked and confused. While I'll admit this is one of the two highlights of the film for me - she wakes up naked again later - I'm also a little disappointed at the producers' attempts to pander to stereotypical gamers (i.e. young males). It seems all the more unnecessary as the games always did very well on their own merits without throwing in any nudity. But then she is beautiful.
Anyway, Milla has woken up sans clothes in a mansion in the woods, and can't seem to remember much. Game fans might start to get excited right now as they notice various things from the early games – a mansion in the woods, statues in the room and crows outside. Just when you think they might be going for a horror approach like Capcom did, Milla slips into something practical – a sexy, short, tight red dress and boots – before a team of all-in-black, respirator-wearing generic special forces soldiers bust in as a heavy metal soundtrack blasts out. In an attempt to literally explode the viewer's mind, one of the masked soldiers takes off their respirator to reveal a WOMAN underneath!
As if that didn't shatter your preconceptions enough, she then tells the man she's roughing up to “blow me”. But that’s just crazy – she's a woman! Consider my mind now imploded, after having recovered from the initial explosion. Stats fans out there can rack up one more on the “badasses played by Michelle Rodriguez” count by the way. This soldier is basically her character from The Fast & The Furious, but with more weaponry.