Rating: 2 stars out of 5
The 'Resident Evil' has, despite critical lashings worse than those inflicted by the monsters in the films, managed to remain dependable at the box-office. The latest instalment isn't going to change perceptions, but is still likely to get fans of the video game franchise and anything zombie to ensure there'll be another sequel to this one.
When things start out, it seems someone has pressed the reset button on the franchise. Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up to find herself at home with her husband and child, but soon zombies start attacking. She later wakes up again, after getting stripped to wear a thin hospital garment and a new hairdo, to learn she's actually inside The Umbrella Project's facility somewhere in Kamchatka. Her nemesis Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), who looks like he missed the Matrix auditions by a decade, is now trying to get her out, but her former friend Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) has other ideas.
Alice does have some allies. Wearing a red dress and looking like she stepped out of a cheesy Macau nightclub, Ada Wong (Li Bing Bing) helps her out while a bunch of guys who look like they're also modeling for J. Crew's Winter Catalogue are dispatched to blow up the place and extract her.
To reach them, Alice needs to go through various chambers meant to depict different cities of the world, while battling zombies and other monsters.
Well, don't expect too much in terms of story. Resident Evil is mostly an exercise in style as Alice goes about shooting and dicing apart zombies and other bizarre, unexplained creatures. Some are new while others have been featured in previous instalments.
It's more of the usual from Paul W.S. Anderson. Mashing up ideas from previous movies and throwing in stuff from other films, this edition of Resident Evil plays it safe, offering little new and reprises elements from previous movies, such as the return of The Red Queen, the AI that butchered the team in the first RE film. Even Michelle Rodriguez is back, and outdoes Sean Bean by perishing not just once, but twice.
There are a few decent action set pieces, including a showdown between Alice and her allies with the prime baddies of The Umbrella Project, and Anderson does give us the occasional surreal visual, such as a bunch of Russian battleships stranded on ice. Still, it's few and far between.
The acting isn't going to win any awards, though Jovovich, with her intensity, does seem to be taking things seriously. Inexplicably, Anderson gets BingBing to deliver a whole bunch of exposition about the world and the facility, and it's so wooden you just wish she would get on with shooting down stuff and blowing things up.
The 3D of the film delivers more of the same, with bullets and other weaponry flying out at you, but just like the film, there's hardly anything new. The ending sets up yet another sequel, and Alice probably wonders when she can get out of the rabbit hole. Can one hope that next instalment; the filmmakers will find some brains?
Travis Wong is a film loving geek who got his start from frequenting video shops in JB. He frequented movie theaters more often than school, and received his cinematic epiphany when he watched 'Taxi Driver'. While not driving a cab, he haunts DVD shops, and he currently has the largest remaining collection of VHS tapes and Laserdiscs in the country.