Resident Evil (2002)
January 12, 2023 7:47 AM - Subscribe

When a virus leaks from a top-secret facility, turning all resident researchers into ravenous zombies and their lab animals into mutated hounds from hell, the government sends in an elite military task force to contain the outbreak. Alice (Milla Jovovich) and Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) are charged with leading the mission. But they only have three hours before the pathogen becomes airborne and infects the world.

Also starring Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, Colin Salmon, Pasquale Aleardi, Heike Makatsch, Ryan McCluskey, Indra Ové, Oscar Pearce, Anna Bolt, Joseph May, Robert Tannion, Jaymes Butler, Stephen Billington, Fiona Glascott, Liz May Brice, Torsten Jerabek, Marc Logan-Black, Michaela Dicker, Jason Isaacs.

Written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson (this guy, not that one), based on the video game of the same name.

35% fresh on RT.

Currently streaming in the US on Netflix. Also available for digital rental. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There are seven Resident Evil movies now. I have enjoyed all of the ones I have seen, which is most of them. I could not recount for you even the most basic elements of their plots. These are not intended to be great movies. They are exactly what they are: a highly technically skilled director with a (comparatively, for horror) large budget and a game star stringing together video game-inspired set pieces that involve terrific looking people with enormous guns killing hordes of zombies. The movies know exactly what they are and they deliver on that basis.

For me these are like Pauline Kael's review of Star Wars: "A box of Cracker Jacks that is all prizes." That quote often gets misunderstood to be praise. It's not, really. I take that to mean she found virtually the entire film to be full of delights without it having any substance to offer. A box of Cracker Jacks that is all prizes has nothing to eat in it. And the prizes, when piled up on one another, get less amazing and less surprising, even if it's still a momentarily joyful indulgence to have one after another. This is a bit like that.

It also bears note that Jovovich has said several times that the reason her working collaboration with Anderson (who is her husband) is so enduring because of the same reason she was drawn to him personally on the making of this film. That is: PSW Anderson is a resolutely anti-sexist person whose sets are a pleasant and respectful place to work. She'd rather make big 'splosion movies with her family together on set (they have three kids) than sit alone in a trailer on someone else's set where she has to withstand a bunch of dismissive, sexist bullshit.

So on those grounds: that these movies know what they are; that they are entertaining in the moment, even if they don't exactly stick with you; and they are made by nice, happy people working well together, I generally enjoy them. They are movies I'd give only 2 or 3 stars out of 5 to on Letterboxd, but might still check the little favorite heart on anyway.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:59 AM on January 12 [14 favorites]

I watched this back in the day when I had a huge crush on Milla (I even owned her album, which is... fine but forgettable) and for all that I'm not much of a horror person, I did quite enjoy it. It does what it sets out to do! Some of the later ones (I have seen a couple, but not all of them) are much looser and less compelling, but I think this one actually works pretty ok.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:09 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]

This is the last minute or two of the movie; the last (exterior) shot was filmed on Adelaide Street in downtown Toronto.

Twenty-plus years ago I was leading a walking tour in downtown for a group of visitors and we were underground in the PATH for the last five or ten minutes. We emerged at the corner of Yonge and Adelaide (perhaps a hundred metres beyond where Jovivich is standing in the final shot) a couple of hours before the cameras started rolling. The set dressing was almost done and it looked... pretty much like it does here.

As my group came up and into the sunlight, an Aussie guy looked dubiously up and down Adelaide and asked, “How long were we underground?”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:38 AM on January 12 [9 favorites]

even if they don't exactly stick with you

Yes, in the bigger picture, but OTOH Colin Salmon getting diced.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:47 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]

Also this is one of Paul WS Anderson's movies that are absolutely b-movies and know it but that also go that little bit above and beyond the call of b-movie duty. Shots are a little better than they need to be, action scenes are a little more comprehensible and a little more over the top, characters are a little less stupid than they might otherwise be. I don't know that I could point out the difference exactly but this one and some others really feel like "Hey, let's make a really fun b-movie! It'll be awesome!" and not as much like a cynical moneygrab from doofuses with low tastes like me.

His Alien vs Predator is like that too, *AND* the main character is a woman who's a badass and nobody ever questions that in the slightest, *AND* her would-be-a-love-interest-in-another-movie gets unceremoniously munched almost as badly as Samuel L did in that other movie.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:53 AM on January 12

Yes, in the bigger picture, but OTOH Colin Salmon getting diced.

And speaking of Alien vs Predator. It seems to be Anderson’s favourite thing to do in his movies.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:58 AM on January 12

I love these stupid movies. Better made than they need to be, and self-aware enough to focus on being entertaining vs trying to be cool. I also love the underground base and use of wire-frame animation to show the audience where the characters are. And zombie dobermans!
posted by mrphancy at 9:30 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]

A good place to link one of my favorite fanvids of all time (covers the whole franchise, I think), Get Low ("you are not here to take it to the floor").
posted by praemunire at 10:35 AM on January 12

To be honest, I find all the later movies in this series to be more or less unwatchable, but I am a huge proponent of this one, absolutely no notes.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:49 AM on January 12

iirc, while Alice is skimpily dressed more often than not, I recall appreciating her (mostly) sensible footwear - while still looking incredible.
posted by porpoise at 3:43 PM on January 12

I'm kind of surprised to find out this has such a low RT score. I mean, it's not classic cinema or anything but it's a pretty solid, fun movie. Who the heck walks out of Resident Evil hating it?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:41 PM on January 12

Who the heck walks out of Resident Evil hating it?

A bunch of movie critics from the early 2000's is who. That's the 35% Fresh, the supposed "regular person" score is 67% popcorn.

Critics generally aren't fans of B movies on first release. Also I feel like in general there was a rash of terrible movies based on video games around the turn of the century, so they were already inclined to dislike it.

I've seen every flick from this series multiple times, more or less, in a sort of "casual browsing, oh hey RE:Whatever is available those are always fun" way. The second (Apocalypse) is the low point where the low budget is, uh, really obvious, especially with the creature costumes.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:32 AM on January 13

This is the last minute or two of the movie

I'm trying to remember whether there was any link to the beginning of the next movie. One of the most annoying things about the later movies is they always spend some time at the end setting up for the next one, and then it bears no relation to how the next one starts.
posted by biffa at 6:00 AM on January 20

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