If you’ve seen ’em once, you’ve seen ’em a thousand times. And we’ve seen ’em a thousand times. Lone bad-boy law-enforcement type takes on hoards of terrorist types: the die-hard movie. A group of hottie college students/grungy space travelers gets picked off one by one by a rampaging demon/hungry extraterrestrial creature: the ridley-scott-alien movie. These movies have become so generic that someone should be suing, like how the Kimberly-Clark people get upset when you refer to facial tissues as lowercase-k kleenex.
*yawn* Here’s another ridley-scott-alien movie. Only this time Milla Jovovich is Ripley, which is kinda like Chris Klein as Bruce Willis. She’s dressed for most of the movie in the least practical outfit for kicking ass I’ve ever seen: a camisole and tap pants and, I love this, a cape — later, she wears nothing but a paper dinner napkin. And if that turns you on, then this is the movie for you.
Also, that tough chick from Girlfight, Michelle Rodriguez, plays the james-cameron-vasquez character. If girls going postal against SFX creatures is your thing, then again I say that this is the movie for you.
And it’s based on a video game. Which narrows the audience down to teenaged boys (of all ages) who are simultaneously terrified of and drawn to caricatures of strong women. Which is basically the audience Hollywood shoots for in general anyway, so it should be looking at a hit here.
The Umbrella Corporation (strained metaphor alert!) pretty much runs the world, and it uses computers and health care as its cover operations — it’s really into military stuff and genetic experimentation. Things Go Wrong in its underground research facility called the Hive, and a mutant virus is released. An AI called the Red Queen (an Alice in Wonderland reference that has little meaning in what little context this film has) kills off everyone working there — just poor schmoes working at their desks, which is kinda unpleasant in the wake of 9/11 — to prevent the virus’s escape.
Corporations run amuck, genetic engineering run amuck, artificial intelligence run amuck: all the SF bugaboos of the last twenty years are here in one convenient package. It’s enough to make you wonder what Microsoft is really up to in its secret subterranean lab under Redmond. And yet it’s so behind the times: One character critical of Umbrella says, “Corporations like Umbrella think they’re above the law, but they’re not,” when we all know that megacorporations — see: Enron — make sure the laws get changed in their favor. It’s pretty sad when science fiction can’t keep up with reality.
Resident Evil is also corporate filmmaking run amuck, Hollywood run amuck: This is all anonymous people whom we don’t care about getting killed in messy ways one by one until only Milla Jovovich (The Claim, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc) is left, which isn’t giving anything away because this is a ridley-scott-alien movie and that’s how these things work. It’s about manufacturing “suspense” with music cues and stuff jumping out at you, telegraphed a mile out. It’s about a rather breathtaking lack of attempts at creating characters and a brazen avoidance of any semblance of a story or even a logical procession from one scene to the next. It’s about really loud hard rock music drowning out the nonsense and making the whole affair feel like a 100-minute music video.
It’s also about zombies run amuck — that virus turns all the dead Umbrella employees into zombies, and I bet the company stops contributing to your 401K after that, since technically you’re dead. If the movies have taught us anything about zombies, it’s that they don’t move very fast at all. But do Milla and Michelle and their nameless cohorts run away? Of course not. Hell, a brisk stroll will put some distance between you and a zombie. These people deserve to die.
In conclusion, I have this to say:
- On Level 1, the train won’t power up until you connect the plug under the train’s trapdoor. (Why is there a trapdoor in the floor of a train? I don’t know.)
- On Level 4, the keypad code is 01931567.
- On Level 8, disconnect the Red Queen’s master circuit breaker before rebooting her main processor.
- On Level 12, wait until the zombie is standing in front of the door button before shooting it.
- On Level 15, use the IV needle to short-circuit the electronic lock.
Welcome to Resident Evil 2!