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Default Resident Evil: Special Edition




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: August 3, 2002
Released by: Columbia Tri-Star
Release date: 7/30/2002
MSRP: $19.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



Resident Evil the video game made its debut in 1996. It was quickly followed by three successful sequels - Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, and Resident Evil - Code: Veronica. A fifth game - a prequel titled Resident Evil 0 - is due out in November 2002 for the Gamecube. The combined games, not including the prequel, have sold more than 16 million units worldwide and grossed over $600 million. With success like that, Hollywood is bound to come knocking. And that's exactly what happened. It was a long journey bringing Resident Evil to the big screen. At one point zombie maestro George Romero was to write and direct the movie. Unfortunately, he was fired after completing his first draft of the script. Ultimately the movie would be written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Paul, whose previous work includes both writing and directing Mortal Kombat - another video game to movie adaptation, had the experience needed to adapt Resident Evil into a movie.

Was Paul's adaptation of Resident Evil a success? Financially speaking, yes. The movie wasn't a box office smash, but it did end up making a decent sized profit for Columbia Tri-Star. Enough of a profit to greenlight a sequel that's due out in 2003. Helping with the wait for the sequel, Columbia Tri-Star has quickly released a special edition DVD of Resident Evil. A bigger special edition, which is rumored to contain additional footage added back into the movie, is due out sometime in the next year. As is always the case with such a circumstance, fans are wondering whether they wait for the deluxe special edition or buy what's available now. Lets take a look at the DVD available now to see if it's worth the purchase.

The Story

inline Image The Umbrella Corporation is one of the largest commercial entities in the United States. Nine out of every ten homes contain its products. Unbeknownst to its employees, the majority of Umbrella's profits come from military technology, genetic experimentation, and viral weaponry. A saboteur has gained entry into The Hive, one of Umbrella's underground research facilities located in Raccoon city. The saboteur steals several tubes containing the deadly 'T-Virus.' Before leaving, the saboteur unleashes the virus into the facility. The Hive's computer, known as the Red Queen, does a full lockdown of the facility. As the workers begin to realize the seriousness of the situation, pandemonium breaks out as they try to escape.

inline Image A woman by the name of Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakens naked and in the shower. She has no recollection of who she is or what she's doing in a luxurious mansion. As she begins to investigate the house, a man grabs her from behind and tackles her to the floor. Suddenly, a swat team crashes through the windows, hand cuffing the man and demanding a report from Alice. The cuffed man is Matt (Eric Mabius), who claims to be a cop. The primary members of the swat team consist of One (Colin Salmon) - the leader, J.D. (Pasquale Aleardi), Kaplan (Martin Crewes) - the computer expert, Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), and a medic (Liz May Brice). The team heads into the lower levels of the mansion, brining both Matt and Alice with them.

inline Image When the group arrives in the basement, Alice demands to know what's going on. One explains that the mansion is an emergency entrance into the hive and that the entire team is security operatives for the Umbrella Corporation. The team is unsure of what exactly happened in the hive except that the Red Queen went homicidal, locking down the entire facility and killing many, if not all of the workers. Their mission is to shut down the Red Queen and search for survivors. If the mission is not completed within 3 hours the emergency entrance and exit at the mansion will be sealed, locking all of them in the hive. As the group will soon find out, shutting down the Red Queen is the least of their worries. The T-Virus has re-animated the dead bodies of the workers, turning them into flesh eating zombies. With time running out, the team must battle their way through an army of zombies, as well as a few other surprises, before the exit is sealed and their fates are doomed.

inline Image I skipped seeing this movie when it first came out in the theater, which in retrospect I regret. The games never appealed to me much. Part of the reason for that is because at the time they were being released I was more interested in playing multiplayer games like Quake, Tribes, and Unreal. I didn't follow the development of the movie much either, except for the shocking news about George Romero being fired. I suppose as a Romero fan I was a bit turned off to the movie upon hearing this news. Now that I've seen the movie I can happily report that it was terrific. I can also admit that while Romero is a maestro when it comes to zombies, perhaps he wasn't the best choice for adapting a video game into a movie. I'm all for a movie being faithful to whatever it's being adapted from, whether it be a book, comic, or video game.

inline Image Resident Evil is a horror, adventure, and action movie rolled into one. It has a nice, quick pace that keeps the movie moving along nicely. The acting is top notch all around. Milla Jovovich is perfect as Alice, going from someone that is dazed and confused to a complete ass kicker. Michelle Rodriguez falls right into the role of Rain, a tough and bitchy commando that takes shit from no one, including flesh eating zombies. And the zombies look and act great! This movie has some incredible special effects. I loved the zombie dogs - those worked really well. There is some CGI as well, but it's not overdone or obvious, and I think it works well in conjunction with the regular makeup effects.

inline Image If there is one complaint it would have to be the lack of gore. There's plenty of violence but the gore is lacking; the death scenes are too clean cut. Anderson himself mentions on the commentary track that if any more blood were added, the movie would have received an NC-17 rating. I believe it too. You've got to love today's MPAA; they are completely clueless. A movie that received an R rating 20 years ago would receive an NC-17 today.

[b]Resident Evil lacks the gore of Dawn and Day of the Dead, but it's still a great horror movie. I love the action, the effects, and the entire cast. There are so many great scenes in it too. I love the laser beam scenes with the trapped commandos - that's classic. Kudos to director Paul W.S. Anderson for such a fine adaptation. Not only am I looking forward to the sequel, I'm planning on buying a Gamecube just to play the upcoming Resident Evil 0 game. If you missed this one in theaters, definitely add it to the 'must see' list.

Image Quality

inline Image One thing I've come to expect from Columbia Tri-Star is near perfect transfers. Their track record, excluding the occasional P&S release, is near perfect. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Resident Evil is another example of a near perfect transfer. Minus the occasional grain, this transfer is superb. The image is consistently sharp, boasting strong and vivid colors throughout. No visible MPEG artifacts were seen, nor was there any signs of print damage. Near perfect indeed. I'm rating this one with a solid A.

Sound

A Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is included with Resident Evil. It's an incredible soundtrack, easily one of the best I've heard on a horror dvd. There is near constant activity from surrounds and LFE that will give your sound system a nice workout. There are so many soundtracks that are lacking on surrounds; it's always nice to hear one that goes above and beyond. What's better is, the separation works wonderfully. It helps to set the mood, as well as give the action a bit more realism.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Columbia Tri-Star has released Resident Evil as a fairly loaded Special Edition DVD. Starting off is the commentary with director Paul W.S. Anderson, producer Jeremy Bolt, and actors Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez. Let me state up front that I'm all for humorous commentaries. One of my favorites is from Evil Dead 2. And the commentary here definitely falls into the humorous commentary category. About 90% of it is cracking jokes of it is the group cracking jokes at one another. What I didn't like is Milla or Michelle interrupting Paul or Jeremy when they were trying to make serious comments about the movie. I found that really annoying and it ruined much of the commentary for me. I did enjoy hearing Paul discuss how he's a big fan of the original games and how he made much of the cast and crew either play the games or watch video from them. It was also cool hearing Paul point out some of the homages to Dawn and Day of the Dead.

Five featurettes are included. Here's a rundown of each:

1) The Making of Resident Evil - 27 minutes in length. Contains interviews with cast and filmmakers discussing their characters, creating the movie, what the movie is about, and more. There's some nice behind-the-scenes footage of various effects shots. This is a nice, informative featurette. Certainly more informative than the commentary!

2) Scoring Resident Evil - 11 minutes in length. Director Paul W.S. Anderson discusses why he chose Marilyn Manson to create the score. Contains interviews with composers Marco Beltrami and, of course, Marilyn Manson discussing the creation of the musical score.

3) Costumes - 3 minutes, 20 seconds in length. Contains interviews with production designer Richard Bridgland, director Paul W.S. Anderson, and various actors. They discuss the creation of the costumes the various actors wear in the movie. There are also several sketches shown as well.

4) Set Design - 4 minutes in length. Contains an interview with production designer Richard Bridgland. He discusses the set designs. Various behind-the-scenes footage is shown as well.

5) Zombie Make-Up Tests - 1 minute in length. As the title indicates, this featurette shows make-up tests for several of the zombie.





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Enjoyable featurettes that fans will definitely enjoy. Toping off the supplements is the "My Plague" music video by Slipnot, filmographies for cast and crew, and trailers for Resident Evil, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, XXX, Men in Black II, Spider-Man, and Formula 51.
Overall this is a good special edition. It would have been great if it weren't for the lackluster commentary track. Still, I'll rate it with a B. It will be interesting to see what the upcoming deluxe special edition is going to include.

Final Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised by Resident Evil. It's a nice mix of action, adventure, and horror. The one downfall is that it's light on gore. If you can get past that, you're sure to enjoy it. Columbia Tri-Star has released a solid DVD here containing a great transfer and soundtrack, as well as some enjoyable supplements. Patient fans may want to hold out for the deluxe special edition due out sometime in the next year. For everyone else, this DVD is sure to please.

Rating

Movie - B+
Image Quality - A
Sound - A
Supplements - B+

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 41 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • 28 Chapter Stops
  • English/French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English/French Subtitles
Supplements
  • Cast and Filmmakers' Commentary
  • 5 Exclusive Fearturettes
  • Music Video: "My Plague" by Slipknot
  • Filmographies
  • Animated Menus
  • Production Notes
  • Theatrical Trailers

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