I’m not a huge Resident Evil fan, but I’ve played most of the games (hell, one of the first games I’ve ever played on my first console was the original Resident Evil at the ripe age of 9 years…) and seen all of the movies. Yet this was the first movie in the series I’ve managed to go to the cinemas to see. The main reason for this was that it is the other of major 3D driven movies that have come out recently, the other being Avatar obviously, so the primus motor for this expedition was the 3D, not the movie in itself. I’m not saying I wouldn’t watch it otherwise, but..
Good news is, the movie isn’t all sucky. Without the fanboy glasses, which I have yet to acquire (Jill-sandwich and master of unlocking still haunt the recesses of my mind, unfortunately), the movie is a decent action flick with lots of pretty 3D effects and lots of slow-motion fight sequences, and by lots I mean approximately half of the movie’s duration. Had Anderson, returning at the helm for the first time since the original movie, managed to contain himself and sped up some of the action bits the movie could’ve squeezed off at least ten to twenty minutes of the movie’s length, or alternatively spared a bit more time for the characters and the plot, both now nearly non-existent.
Actually, I felt at the beginning that I’ve walked into the movie just before the ending, until the setup of the whole movie is finally established, namely Alice, played by lovely but stiff Milla Jovovich, losing her telekinetic powers after an overpowered fight against the Umbrella corporation’s ‘elite’ guard and Umbrella CEO Albert Wesker. I emphasise the word ‘elite’, after witnessing several ridiculous attempts at close quarters battle and urban combat, prime examples being staring at a rolling grenade, petrified and getting killed by two completely exposed targets. You’ll see what I mean if you choose to watch this film.
The actor portraying Wesker, Shawn Roberts, oddly reminds me of Val Kilmer in his epic performance in The Saint, although Roberts too comes out as a stiff pastiche of Wesker in the later games, namely Resident Evil 5 with his corny one-liners and lacking over-the-top performance (D.C. Douglas should take a lesson or two of this from Cam Clarke as Liquid Snake in the original Metal Gear Solid). What bothered me about the character in the movie was that the whole intention was for him to be a nod towards the game portrayal of the character, recreating partial scenes from RE5, mainly fighting (read: slow-mo) scenes, and giving him the abilities and attributes of the character from the game, all the while creating plot holes in the continuity of the movies in doing this. What I suggest is to ignore continuity altogether and just concentrate on the action, of which there is plenty.
This is the bit to cheer about, although there are mishaps too. Luckily Anderson has not gone with the flow of many action directors of the day (e.g. the only flaw in the superb Batman Begins, blurry fight scenes due to fast-paced cutting) and keeps the action clean and visible. The action is plenty, and it is sssssssssssssllllllllllllllllllllloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww (You can try saying that in your head). The fight sequences utilise bullet time-esque camera movements which, with the added depth of the 3D, are actually quite captivating and very over the top. Even though it is established early on in the film that Alice loses her powers, the other good guys and girls are normal people and Wesker is a super powered, suave bastard/badass, Alice, Claire and Chris Redfield, portrayed by Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller respectively (in prison, not surprisingly), they take surprisingly little damage from all the action and occasionally sport reflexes that would make an Olympic-level skater jealous. The slow motion is taken a bit over the top though over the course of the movie, although it doesn’t really start to get on your nerves until you’re halfway through the movie, doubled in length by all the slow motion, some of which is unnecessary to boot with too. Unfortunately, some of the action scenes take the bullet time to incredulous levels à la The Twin Snakes, which along with poorer voice acting makes it far inferior (like supposedly Solid Snake’s genes are) to its original counterpart.
Strictly speaking as a non-fan boy of the games, the movie succeeds in its main goal: it keeps you entertained. The length is quite adequate, at a tad under 100 minutes, for a movie such as this although in my opinion some of the slow motion could have been cut and the plot and characters could have received a bit more time. The 3D effects are in a whole different level than in most ‘3D movies’ that have come out, like Clash of The Titans or Alice in Wonderland (which were just converted to 3D from 2D footage instead of being filmed in 3D to start with) and actually add to the experience rather than move the focus from the movie. I’m sure this movie will be hated by fan boys of the games and most likely I would be lynched for this, but it is a decent movie, if you manage to lose the fan boy goggles and not take the movie too seriously. The actors are mostly good, the action is mostly good, so what is there to complain if you’re not going to see this and expect the mental successor of Inception?
It would also be a good thing to point out that a gun that fires quarters is preposterous.