Resident Evil

Dir: Paul Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy

Game-to-movie transfers have, let's be honest, always been ill-starred, from Super Mario Bros to Tomb Raider, so Resident Evil has a lot of inertia to overcome…and this adaptation of the archetypal Survival Horror title barely does. Memory-wiped babe Alice awakens in the shower just in time for a troop of Special Forces guys to take her and her boyfriend into a top secret lab at gunpoint; her loss of recall is related to the breakout of a deadly virus that turns its victims into the living dead, and soon the place is knee-deep in zombies and the ammo is running out…

Writing and directing the movie, Anderson has followed close to the matter of the game's original narrative, so hardcore fans will find themselves realising that they've seen this all before - just with lower quality graphics. Sure, there's some keen stuff, like the wicked 'laser corridor' that dices a few hapless soldiers, but this is a make-work plot that a million other low-rent actioners have trailed out before this movie. The money spent on Resident Evil helps to elevate it a little, but the sense that you're watching a real-life game replay is overwhelming - any first person shooter fan will recognise the moment when the cast enter a warehouse full of crates as something straight out of a Doom level. The appearance of the nasty Licker creature towards the end of the film also has all the feel of an end-of-level boss encounter. Still, the cast acquits themselves as well as they can, and Jovovich kicks butt as the amnesiac Alice. The memory loss plot device leads to some neat reveals in the unfolding story and the effects are keen, but overall it rings hollow - something not helped by the sequel-trailer ending. In the final analysis, you'll probably find the game itself still a hell of a lot scarier.

Jim Swallow


Alice in underland
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