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The Dish

MRQE Top Critic

Operation Condor

Jackie Chan meets Indiana Jones —Andrea Birgers (review...)

Chan borrows from Raiders

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Throughout the past decade, various video games have been adapted into poorly made feature-length films that only disappoint its players. “Tomb Raider,” “Final Fantasy,” “Super Mario Bros.”... none of these films did justice to the video games they were based on. However, Screen Gems’ “Resident Evil” proves that not all video game adaptations will have disastrous results. It has the one element the other films failed to include— a director who’s a fan of the game.

Inside the Hive

Jolie kicks ass in yet another video gameResident Evil acts as a prequel to the highly popular Playstation game, following Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she works to isolate a deadly virus that’s killed the Umbrella Corporation’s entire underground research facility (a.k.a. the Hive). This outbreak, however, didn’t really kill the staff— it just transformed them into man-eating zombies. With one scratch, one bite from these undead, the living transform into their kind.

Battling zombies, mutant dogs and deadly lasers, Alice and her crew (which includes Michelle Rodriguez and Eric Mabius) have three hours before the gateway to the underground facility seals up; three hours before the virus leaks out into Raccoon City.

Saved by a Fan

When one strips away the killer soundtrack (by Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson) and the numerous “Alice in Wonderland” references, “Resident Evil” is just another zombie horror-movie. However, the layers of added extras piled on a predictable plot make for an entertaining film, filled with thrills, cool action sequences and enough similarities to the game its based on to please fans and hook new viewers from the opening sequence. This can easily be credited to director Paul W.S. Anderson (“Mortal Kombat,” “Event Horizon”), who proves that he is a Resident Evil video game junkie himself by including all the elements players would expect to see in a film adaptation.

While he may have added some extra elements to move the story along — the Red Queen, for example, a supercomputer that controls and monitors the underground facility — he never replaces elements of the game with his original ideas. This combination of director’s vision with previously established concepts not only keeps the film entertaining for those who’ve played Resident Evil a hundred times, but is also welcoming to those who haven’t played the game, since they too will be experiencing some scenes for the first time.

Money Makes the World Go Around

Anderson’s greatest accomplishment with Resident Evil isn’t his dedication to the game it’s based on, but the way he made the film with the relatively small amount of money he had. Despite its moderate budget, the film looks just as expensive and even more detailed than Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy. By casting human zombies who can actually dislocate their own joints and substituting computer generated mutant dogs for real Dobermans covered in make-up, Anderson not only saved some much needed money, but also makes the film seem more realistic. While these scenes could have easily looked fake, they are executed so wonderfully that audiences won’t be able to believe that the effects weren’t created with CGI technology.

The Protectors of the World

As for the cast of the film, Jovovich is wonderful as the kick-ass heroine, Alice. While she may not have much to work with dialogue-wise (after all, people are seeing the film for its action sequences— not its touching moments), Jovovich proves that there is more to her than just a pretty face by performing all but one of her own stunts.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez delivers more of that attitude audiences loved in The Fast and the Furious, and Mabius gives a performance that will keep viewers who don’t know the game guessing whose side he is really on up until the ending credits roll.

Better than Average

Granted Resident Evil is far from being perfect— it runs a bit slow, the story is predictable and, outside its three main characters, the film is poorly acted. However, coming off of Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy, Resident Evil is one of the best video game adaptations Hollywood has seen in years and could very well develop into a Screen Gems’ franchise. Filled with action, suspense and lots and lots of gore, fans of “Resident Evil” (and of video games in general) shouldn’t be disappointed.