Sony // 2002 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // December 17th, 2002
Zombies galore in glorious Superbit!
Zoinks, it's zombies! Far below the populated Raccoon City lies The Hive, a secret laboratory that has been working on genetic experiments that would make Darwin shit a brick. The Hive is owned by the Umbrella Corporation who, according to the film, has products in nine out of ten homes around the globe. The underground facilities house about 500 workers who find out that big business sometimes has its drawbacks: when a coiled vial filled with the dreaded T-virus is spilled on the floor the entire facility goes into lockdown, killing off the building's population. Enter an elite group of commandos sent in to see just what went on and take on the Red Queen, an artificially intelligent super computer that seems to be melting down quicker than Anne Heche's career. The team includes the rough and tumble Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez, The Fast And The Furious), the amnesia-ridden Alice (Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element), and the bland Matt Addison (Eric Mabius, Cruel Intentions). After riding a huge train underground and cracking into The Hive the group...well, what do you think happens? Zombies attack, guns explode, and bad things happen to everyone.
Resident Evil is not an apocalyptic nightmare. It's not even a smattering of a bad dream. And it certainly ain't scary. Resident Evil is a computer enhanced live action video game that never amounts to the sum of its parts. The movie was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (the guy who directed Event Horizon and Solider, not Punch Drunk Love) and is as slick as they come -- bullets, blood, and bombs go off straight though to the end. But a funny thing happened on the way to the end...I just didn't care. I was never given enough information about the characters to invest any emotion in them, and none of the actors came off as even the least bit interesting. The dialogue consists of each actor (everyone is, of course, sexy and good looking) shouting lines of dialogue at each other that includes the sentences "Run!" "Help!" and "Nooooo!" I think there was also an "Arrrgh" in there someone, though I can't say for certain. Almost every amount of humor seems to have been sucked out of this film making it a loud, chaotic experience that induces more eye-rolling than it does scares. The focal point of the film (aside of Jovovich's perky nipples) is the zombies, and they end up being a huge letdown. People, here's some good advice from a living dead fan: slow it down and show the dang zombies! The whole reason I go to see a movie about the walkin' dead is because I wanna see faces torn off and hair falling out. For all of my complaining, Resident Evil isn't quite as bad as I'm making it out to be. You could do a lot worse with an hour and a half of your life than sit though this mundane horror flick. For mindless action and horror, Resident Evil fits the fill -- even if that bill includes too much CGI and not enough characterization. There are a few decapitations, a lot of gunfire, and a nice homage to George Romero at the end (a newspaper sports the headline "The Dead Walk!" stolen from Romero's far superior 1985 sequel Day Of The Dead). Just don't go into it expecting much more than a sub-par zombie movie or you'll be wishing you were eating live brains instead.
Resident Evil: Superbit Edition is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. You know, I didn't think there was a lot wrong on the original DVD release of this film. Apparently the folks over at Columbia assumed differently, as we now get a newly stamped edition of this transfer as part of their Superbit collection. The fact is that this transfer looks about as good (or only slightly better than) the original Resident Evil release. The colors and black levels are all sharp and detailed without any edge enhancement, pixilation or grain marring the image. In other words, to my naked eye this transfer appeared to be in great shape. Two soundtracks are available on this disc: a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track and a DTS track (the only feature not available on the original release), both in English. While I think the DTS track is slightly better, both of these mixes work wonders on a home theater system. The dynamic range on both audio tracks is wide and spacious without any hiss or distortion present. Surround sounds and directional effects are used generously with the bass thumping deep and low. Also included on this disc are English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.
On par with most of the other Columbia Superbit titles, this Resident Evil: Superbit Edition includes nary a trailer or a production note. If you're interested in picking up Resident Evil on DVD, go with the original release -- this Resident Evil: Superbit Edition is bare bones snoozer with negligible differences in the video and audio presentations.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site