Story: A security breach has occurred at The Hive, a secret laboratory facility deep underground that engages in some dangerous, bleeding edge experiments. Any such breach would be reason for serious concern, but this one is especially pressing, as a virus has been leaked and chaos has ensued. The virus has infected the lab’s staff and turned them into feral, violent zombies, while even the animals stored at the lab have been transformed as well. The safeguards kick in to lock down the lab, but someone still needs to clean up the mess and ensure total containment. An elite military squad is sent in to eliminate the zombies and restore order to the lab, but that proves to be more of a challenge than expected, to say the least. Will the commandos and any lingering survivors be able to contain the virus and escape alive or will the infection be unleashed on the entire world?
Entertainment Value: Resident Evil was a hit and spawned a host of sequels, but does it live up to the video game series it was based on? This first movie sets the precedent that the others follow, which is that while some elements would be ported over from the video game world, the films would tell the story their own way, for better or worse. The approach includes a lead character in Alice that was created for the movie series, which was an odd choice perhaps, but being honest, the Resident Evil narrative in the games isn’t exactly a rich tapestry of cohesive lore. If this weren’t a Resident Evil branded movie, I think a lot of the complaints about it would lessen, as it is a stylish and fun action movie, it just lacks the basic tenets of the video game. I love the bright, bold colors and elaborate production design elements, every location is interesting and catches your attention, which helps distract from the mediocre writing and keeps the focus on style over substance. I think of this as a big budget, cheese soaked b movie action flick, it knows when to gun the engine and it never fails to pack visual spectacle, it just doesn’t have the punch to rise above the middle of the genre pack. Even so, I think it is a fun movie and the visuals, action, and production design make it well worth a spin.
The character of Alice might not have been in the video games, but she would be the face of the cinematic franchise, with Milla Jovovich as the series lead. I think was a wise choice and her Alice could easily blend into the video games, as she looks the part and the way her character is presented, she’d feel right at home in that world. Of course, Jovovich handles the action scenes with ease and comes off like a natural bad ass throughout, which she would continue over the sequels and turn Alice into quite a memorable character. The role is obviously not one of her more skilled efforts or a performance she was going to rack up dramatic awards for, but for this kind of over the top, b movie type ride, she does all she could be expected to do and more. The cast also includes Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, Colin Salmon, and Stephen Billington.