Resident Evil (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

General summary:
  • Zombie movie based on a video game.
  • Very noisy heavy metal score from Marilyn Manson and Slipknot.
  • Digital readout in overlay.
  • Flesh-eating zombies reaching out their hands while making grunting noises.
  • A creature with a really long tongue

Bad points:

  • No characterization at all. Some of the lead characters don't even know who they are.
  • Basically no dialogue except stuff like. "We're all going to die down here" and "Move it! fast!"
  • Humorless.
  • Even the people who liked the movie said it was brain-dead unoriginal nonsense. (See below)

Good points:

  • Milla Jovovich naked twice
  • Milla wandering around some cool locations in and around Berlin
  • Lots of close-ups of Milla's beautiful blue-green eyes
  • Milla moving around at a frenetic pace

'Nuff said. Just think of it as one of Milla's make-up or shampoo ads, except with flesh-eating zombies. By the way, it is still boring despite the illusion of movement created by frenetic pacing and headbanger music.

When I looked up the Rotten Tomatoes score and found it to be a surprisingly high 33%, I thought to myself, "what kind of reviewer could like this, and why?" Could it be someone who has never seen this plot before? Nah, a movie reviewer has to have seen some other movies. Maybe someone who wants nothing in life other than to see Milla naked (not unlike me)?

Following up on that thought, I thought it might be interesting to see what Rotten Tomatoes considered to be "positive reviews":

NUDITY REPORT

Milla Jovovich shows the side of her breasts in an early scene, then does frontal nudity about 90 minutes into the film.

"the film acknowledges upfront that the plot makes no sense" - Pop Matters

"brain dead" - Slant Magazine

"thoroughly unoriginal" - Reeling Reviews

Remember, those are excerpts from the 33% positive reviews, not the 67% bad ones.

Of course, all of those reviewers did go on to say some positive things, but the above phrases don't normally occur in a positive review, do they? The point is this - if the people who liked the movie said it was brain-dead unoriginal nonsense, you can imagine what the others said. And you can deduce that you will not like it unless you believe that frenetic action, cool sets, and loud noises are enough to make up for incoherence, stupidity, and unoriginality.

DVD info from Amazon

Commentary by Talent and Filmmaker
Production notes
Theatrical trailer(s)
5 Exclusive Featurettes
Music Video: "My Plague" by Slipknot
Widescreen anamorphic format, 1.85:1

I've never been an advocate of celebrities taking diction classes and learning to talk with high-falutin' faux-British speech, ala Streisand and Madonna. But I've changed my mind. Milla Jovovich needs to take voice and diction classes.

She is a good actress. I have heard people say she is a good singer. She is beautiful. She is willing to work hard on a role and to do whatever is necessary for the film, including being as ugly as the scene demands. Everyone in the business says she has a great work ethic.

But her soft, slurred little girl voice and Valley Girl accent have to go. She's Kevin Costner in a prettier package. Every time she opens her mouth, I think I'm listening to Milton, the mumbly stapler guy from Office Space.

Tuna's Thoughts

How often to you visit a video arcade and watch someone play the same game for 104 minutes? Sounds stupid to me as well, but it has a real advantage over watching this film. You can watch the video game it is based on for free. A lot of money went into the special effects and CGI, but, with frequent use of close-up and frenetic action, it still had the look of a first person POV game display. As Scoopy mentioned, most of the main characters didn't even know who they were, we see early on that nothing we learn from the film is necessarily true, and there is a sameness to all of the action. The dialogue would be within the ability of an English as a second language preschooler, and the only message, if there is one, is that corporations are bad. I already got that message from the 10 o'clock news.

So what does that leave us with? Milla Jovovich. Near the end of the film, there is a much talked about scene where we get an extended look between her legs. I went through the scene, frame by frame. I am not sure what I saw. It is clearly the right area for vulva, possibly pubic hair, and possibly a hint of labia, but I saw no anatomical detail in any scene. Barbie has more definition than I saw here. It is my suspicion that they did minor digital blurring, possibly to prevent an NC-17. Scoopy liked this one rather more than I did. As it was clearly not required of the script to make sense, they had room for infinite creativity, but managed none. To me, it is a slickly made piece of junk. It made me yearn for something much more exciting, like watching my hard drive defrag.

Scoop's note: I don't think it is technically possible to like this less than I did. I gave it a C because that is approximately what it is by our definition. Personally, I hated it. It's a one star zombie movie. 'Nuff said.

The Critics Vote

  • Roger Ebert 1/4. 

  • General UK consensus: one star. BBC 3/5, Daily Mail 0/10, Daily Telegraph 3/10, Independent 4/10, The Guardian 1/10, The Observer 2/10, The Times 6/10, Evening Standard 2/10, The Sun 2/10, The Express 1/10, The Mirror 4/10

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: it grossed $39 million despite scathing reviews, but that was not up to expectations for a $33 million budget, and a 2500 screen rollout.

 

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

As much as it pains me to say so, based on this description, this film is a C. It is pretty good for a high-tech zombie movie. If you actually like non-gothic zombie movies, you will probably like it. For the other 90% of you who don't like zombie movies at all, well, it's a zombie movie and the average score was one star. (Tuna C-)

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