Resident Evil

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez & Eric Mabius
Certificate: 15
Available now

A covert US paramilitary unit is sent into Racoon City to shut down a powerful super computer that is out of control. It has already trapped hundreds of scientists and office workers at the Umbrella Corporations secret underground facility and the paramilitary unit is under orders to find out what has happened...

Oh no! Yet another console game spin off. I remember when the movies came first and the computer games cashed in on the popularity of them. Now it is the other way around. We have already been subjected to The Mario Brothers movie, Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider. All where dire - only loosely following the plot of their games and in the case of Final Fantasy having nothing to do with the game whatsoever.

That is where Resident Evil differs. For all its faults (and believe me there are plenty) Resident Evil manages to achieve what it sets out to do. One of the charms about the games are that they are extremely claustrophobic. This is achieved in the movie by having our heroes trapped inside an underground facility. And all you favourite monsters are present and correct - the zombie humans and dogs as well as the "licker beast".

The film starts strong with the computer seemingly going mad and killing everyone after someone releases the T-Virus into the facilities air conditioning. The movie's director, Paul Anderson, openly admits to being a huge fan of the original games and this shows in all the little details that make this about as good as it could possibly get.

Once the paramilitary unit investigate into the dark recesses of the facility I noticed that, like the game, between each scene there was a shot of a door being opened while we are waiting for the action to build. Whether this was intentional was not obvious, but if so it was a brilliant artistic touch. Some of the music seemed to be borrowed from the games as well - although the heavy techno rock music is a little too loud in places making it hard to hear the dialogue.

It will make you jump and squirm and there are more than a few surprises in store. Possibly the most talked about movie moment this year will be how Colin Salmon meets his end - destined to become one of those cinematic all time great moments.

None of the characters are taken from the games, which I thought would be a problem. But there is a reason, as this movie is set before the start of the Resident Evil 2 game - and if you are a fan of that game the ending to the movie will send a shiver down your spine as the movie's place in Resident Evil history becomes clear.

There are countless set dressings which could have been lifted straight from the game. Of particular merit is the scene where our hero wanders into the facilities empty kennels to be met with the sight of blood and mangled cages.

The most likeable characters are the two leading ladies, Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez, the rest of the cast (with the exception of Colin Salmon) were merely set dressing. In fact, some of the Zombies had more likeable personalities and the end monster wasn't really that impressive.

The extras on the DVD are pretty average but the biggest sin is that Michelle Rodriguez, and Milla Jovovich to a lesser extent, has to be the worst person to have on an audio commentary.

Director Paul Anderson and one of the producers, Jeremy Bolt, are trying hard to fill the commentary with interesting bits of information and Rodriguez keeps interrupting and talking about what she did last night. And wouldn't it have been an idea to brief them before hand about the fact they were doing a commentary? After 10 minutes of spouting rubbish Rodriguez (or it could have been Jovoich) sounds surprised to hear that they will be watching the whole film and are supposed to offer comments on the scenes.

As the commentary continues things settle down a little and there are more than a few interesting bits about the film making revealed - although Paul Anderson stops short of talking about the set and effects design telling us that there will be an additional commentary track by the designer. Sadly there isn't.

While this is a long way from being a great movie it is by far the best game to movie conversion yet.

Darren Rea

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