The Review: It’s one of the most commonly held theories in movies that you can’t make good cinematic adaptations of computer games. Don’t believe me? Then look at this list. Not one live action movie based on a computer game has a Rotten Tomatoes score of over 40%, and the box office for that list is also generally pretty poor. But surely any movie based on a computer game that’s managed to get to its third sequel, and has done big box office business quickly enough to ensure that the fourth sequel is already on its way, must be doing something right? Right?
If it is, then it’s gone over my head. There’s an obvious appeal from Resident Evil: the series of computer games – zombies and other mutated creatures, and you get to dispatch them in various satisfying ways. The games themselves have always succeeded in creating atmosphere, but there’s precious little of that on offer here. An opening sequence wraps up the cliffhanger from the previous entry, doing so with precious little in the way of wit, imagination or style. It does then kickstart the real plot, prompting Milla Jovovich to have to act briefly in a confession to camera sequence that manages to be both tedious (it’s very short but doesn’t feel it) and unbelievable.
Ah yes, Milla Jovovich. Just because you’re married to the director, love, does it really mean you have to keep doing these? You’ve got a movie coming out with Edward Norton and Robert De Niro soon! Jovovich continues to fill the function of acting as your avatar in the movie world but adds very little else in the way of proceedings to anything. Those missing Ali Larter or Wentworth Miller from their cancelled TV series might think they’ll get a fix here, but other than the fact they’re actually playing characters from the computer games (unlike most of the others here), they’re not adding much either.
Paul WS Anderson is content to reference other action movies without ever coming up with anything especially original. Shots are poorly framed and have no weight in the action sequences, characters are picked off in uninteresting and undramatic ways (at least throw in a bit of gore if people we don’t care about because of your poor plot and character exposition are dying?), and for a movie that should be full of zombies, this goes to great lengths to keep them fenced off and leave you purely in the company of the other insipid excuses for characters, which is completely inexcusable. The games themselves are renowned for their puzzles – the only puzzle here is why you’d want to watch it in the first place? *
Why see it at the cinema: If you’re a fan of the series, then seek help you’ll be going anyway. If you’re not, then you won’t be going anyway – hopefully. Frankly, if you’ve read this, if you haven’t been to one of these before and are still tempted, then I’d be checking that pulse – the zombies might have gotten you already.
Why see it in 3D: Nominally, because this is filmed with the same 3D camera set-up used for Avatar, so the 3D isn’t applied in post-production. The effect they have achieved is not only that the 3D looks dark, but in some places it actually appears the movie is in black and white. Still, things will occasionally be thrown in your virtual face, if you like that sort of thing.
The Score: 2/10
* You may indeed be wondering why I watched it in the first place? Foolishly, I had eight hours while my wife was out on a volunteer assignment and I could fit in three movies, Cyrus and ‘Tamara Drewe’ being the first two, and this then being the only realistic possibility for a third. On reflection, sitting in the car for two hours staring at a hedge may have been preferable. Hey, it’s not the worst movie I’ve seen this year, just the second worst. Thanks, Catherine Zeta Jones.