I know — two zombie movies in a row. It’s bad form, especially for a proclaimed ‘zombie hater.’ But to me, Resident Evil as a whole has always been more interesting as a creature feature. Having only played Resident Evil 5, I can only attest to those creatures, but they were pretty cool, especially in that visual environment. The art design behind the games has found (sometimes distressing) faithful translations to the big screen, and in the first Resident Evil movie, the big bad is the Licker.
The Licker is an exemplary case of 90s and early-2000s CGI. It might be a cool design, but damn if it doesn’t look entirely separated from the live-action actors and set. But that’s okay, because it exists on film, and in a good film. This is James Cameron’s favorite guilty pleasure (he does note, with maybe make-believe emphasis, the ‘first’ movie), and for me, it’s got the monster, and it’s got the paramilitary soldiers with big guns running down hallways.
Doom is better — a better movie and better at that trope/aesthetic combo. Yet, this movie, with its G36cs, more detailed sets, and leaner monsters, is less dumpy and rotund than Doom, which hews closer to Gears of War visual territory. Resident Evil strikes a good balance of the guys with guns and the monsters being shot at by guys with guns.
And I guess Milla Jovovich kicks a dog in the face, but we’ll forgive such post-Matrix regrets.
Paul W.S. Anderson has always had a good eye for casting, and here we have Michelle Rodriguez playing an agent or law enforcer of some kind, Colin Salmon as team leader (“One”), and Jason Isaacs on narration. It would be a good roster of faces with just Salmon alone. Much, much later, we’ll check back in with him as a detective in a vigilante’s world…
For now, we have a film that was taken from George Romero (who inspired the creation of the game) and given to the Internet’s punching bag. Now, I think Anderson can be a good director — maybe not this movie but Soldier and Death Race are quite good. He’s got an interesting visual style, but for a while his slightly niche, slightly nerdy predilections led him down roads controlled tightly by studio interests.
Never forget. AVP.