The definitive comment about “Resident Evil” was made by my friend Luke, who walked out of the theater with me and said, “The computer game is more realistic than the movie.” At least, I think that’s what he said. My ears were still ringing from the highest decibel audio track I can remember.
Okay, no one was going in expecting insights about the human condition or Oscar-worthy performances in a movie based on a CD-ROM. All we hope for is some cool special effects and fight scenes. But even on that level, “Resident Evil” is a disappointment.
A huge corporate conglomerate operates a mysterious underground research facility called The Hive. When something goes wrong with a devastating virus experiment, the governing computer system (think “2001’s” Hal the computer with the voice of Alice in Wonderland) shuts everything down, including killing off all the people. Two amnesiac security officers are brought down into The Hive by a team of commandos. And the rest of the movie consists of the group being confronted by various booby-traps and being chased by various mutants and zombies.
For the record, I can accept forgoing insight, characterization, and even dialogue in a movie like this. But it is not okay to forego stunning visuals, clever plot twists, and a sense of humor, and here “Resident Evil” falls short. What it does have is undead humans who look like rejects from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, mutant vampire Dobermans who look like they they’ve been turned inside out, some laser beams that slice into people in a really gross way, and, on the plus side, a literally kick-ass performance by Michelle Rodriguez.
Parents should know that this movie has extremely gross and graphic violence, with many disgusting deaths and truly icky monsters. Characters are in extreme peril and most of them are killed. There is very strong language and a brief sexual situation with nudity.
Families who see this movie should talk about how people should respond if they believe that their organization is doing something wrong and about the kinds of controls our society establishes to keep private organizations from getting out of control. They can also talk about how this movie could have been better.
Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the much better The Fifth Element, also starring Milla Jovovich.