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Resident Evil (2002)

After director Paul W. S. Anderson's success in 1995 with the box office smash hit 'Mortal Kombat', it wasn't long before Anderson would soon became Hollywood's go to guy for video game adaptations. Being such a big fan of the 'Resident Evil' game series growing up, I'm sure it will come as no surprise to learn that I was first in line on opening night at the cinema to see his take on something that was such a pivotal point in my childhood. However, as much as I adored this movie when it came out, I'm curious to know if this still has the same impact on my now, as it did almost 23 years ago.

In regard to 'Resident Evil' being a faithful adaptation of the source material from the games, I think Anderson, who only directs this movie but also wrote the screenplay, does an excellent job of providing fans with enough fan service, whilst also telling its own unique story. Introducing Alice as the movies main antagonist (a character who never appears in any 'Resident Evil' game) allowed for him to explore a different narrative that is loosely based on the first game without receiving backlash from long-standing fans of the games.

As for the casting, after seeing Milla Jovovich in her role as Leeloo in 'The Fifth Element', I knew she was the right casting choice to lead this movie. Her portrayal of Alice would go on to cement her place amongst some of the greatest female heroins of our generation, firmly amongst the likes of Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley, and Linda Hamilton's Sarah Conner. The supporting cast are equally just as competent, with stand out performances from James Purefoy, Michelle Rodeiguez, Martin Crewes and the always underapreciated Colin Salmon. Considering this is a video game adaptation, I found everyone to deliver more than this movie necessarily required from them.

The set design of 'Resident Evil' is one of the stronger elements of the production. The Hive is really impressive and clearly very well throughout out in terms of the way the characters progress through it, almost as though each act becomes a level on a game. It would have been very easy to have each room and corridor look similar, but considering that the characters spend varying amounts of time in separate groups, this distinct set design helps assign their location in correlation to one another with ease. My only real disappointment comes from the lack of time spent in the mansion. This is such a focal point of the first game and is sadly over looked by this movie.

As for the visual effects, 'Resident Evil' is a movie of two halves. The make up effects used for the zombies are really impressive and the practical effects used to create the dogs in the lab is especially phenomenal. Unfortunately this is ultimately comprised by the use or really dated CGI, something the Lickers are the biggest culprit of. This isn't even a case of this being a dated technology, I remembered how poorly I found this side of the visual effects to be upon its initial release. And in all honesty these scenes really do comprise the overall experience of the movie and really take you out of the moment.

As much of a fan as I am of Anderson as a director, he falls into extremely clique cinematic troupes of the early 2000s here. And although his directing is fairly competent overall throughout 'Resident Evil', his insistence on utilising the slow motion fazing technique during the bigger action set pieces (something that was all the rage at the time), heavily date's this movie and soon becomes quite an annoyance upon rewatches today. Unfortunately this is something that would go on to continue in the franchises later sequels.

The score from Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson is magnificent and very in keeping with the themes and tone of the games, whist at the same time introducing a much heavier Nu-metal sound. And even though this film and even more so the later installments in this franchise, is a lot more action centric than survival horror, this face paced musical score is now synonymous with the 'Resident Evil' title. I have to assume that the more melodic side of the score falls upon Beltrami and the heavier guitar driven sections come under the influence of Marilyn Manson.

Overall, 'Resident Evil' is a great action horror hybrid that is provided a refreshing take on an already well established franchise narrative. That's not to say it isn't flawed in its execution and does suffer somewhat from the dated era of cinema that it was released in. Yet, with an impactful ending that brilliantly sets up a sequel with the potential to have this outbreak take place in a much wider scope, it's not difficult to see why this movie would go on to spawn countless sequels and become one of the biggest franchises from Hollywood in the last 20 years.



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