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Based on the series of hit video games, Resident Evil the movie is here. The games (known as the Biohazard series in Japan) start out when the evil Umbrella Corporation, while trying to create a form of medicine which can prolong life, create a virus which can reanimate the dead. However, there are a few problems with it. Corpses retain a few basic motor functions and are driven by one force – the need to eat flesh! The film stars Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) as Alice, who is the heroine of the film. The other main members of the cast are Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and the Furious) and Eric Mabius (The Crow: Salvation).

The DVD has pretty good animated menus.
The story starts when Alice awakes after falling unconscious in the shower. She has no memory of who she is or what she is doing there. Commandos enter the house she is in and briefly explain that the highly intelligent computer running the Umbrella Corporation’s underground lab complex, where up to 500 people work, has “gone homicidal”. The commander further explains she is a soldier too and must accompany them on the mission to shut the computer (known as the Red Queen) down. Apart from the way they enter the labyrinth like complex, all other doors are electronically sealed, and there’s good reason for this. Powering down the Red Queen results in these doors opening, and unleashing what was being held back. After making it to the centre of the lab to shut the computer down, the team realise that their numbers are dwindling and it’s really time to get out. It’s also a race against time as the only exit is on a timer circuit which will close to prevent the virus from escaping further into the fabled Racoon City where the film is set.

This is a good survival horror movie. It’s full of jumps and scares, and the thumping almost hard house electronic industrial score keep the films pace set to “adrenaline mode”. It doesn’t let up either. The music was written by the odd coupling of Marco Beltrami (Scream, Mimic, Halloween H20, Blade 2) and Marilyn Manson (off his head, psycho gothic rock star), and this collaboration works well. Music plays a big part in the movie and is almost always there in the background, especially for the action scenes. If it does one thing, it gets your heart going.

Guess the target audience?
Having not played all the Resident Evil games I can’t fully comment (the Gamecube version is not out until next month!), however I have played them enough to know there are a lot of parts from the games included in this movie. There is even a locked, transparent box with a gun in it in the same vein as the spare ammo and health you find in the games. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon) is apparently a fan of the games and used several monster types from the games in this picture. It was exciting to see the evil zombie dogs in the movie as they always terrified me in the games due to their speed. The zombies themselves are also very well portrayed and the makeup is excellent. The only monster that was a let down for me was the big “Licker” monster which was mostly CGI and looked it. A shame. Still, the rest of the movie was ace. Again, Jovovich does a great job and her, coupled with some good direction (with a lot of shots taken from the game itself), really help to stylise the film for this genre. A special mention must go to the zombies, as they were excellent, especially the guy that purposely dislocates his foot and shoulder for the role – disgusting.  

The print is anamorphic, 1.85:1 and artefact free. There is not much more that the DVDs producers could have done to give it such fantastic picture quality. The back of the DVD case actually lists the film as being mastered in “high definition” whatever that means – anyway, the picture quality is beautiful with abundant colours in places and deep dark tunnels with the obligatory blinking lights causing a cascade of white, reflecting in pools of water. Top notch stuff.

Commandos on the move.
I have already mentioned the score, but the sound effects are also very good. Perhaps the rear speakers were not used enough for my liking, but even so, they are still used a fair amount. It’s a shame in my opinion that even though a DTS mix was created, it was not used for this disc. But then I would imagine the extra features would have suffered if it was included (however I always prefer DTS to extras). There have been rumours that a super violent unrated cut of this movie is going to be made available on DVD so if that ever comes about then perhaps that will include the DTS my ears require. However, it’s probably just a pipe dream.

She's so cute - are you sure she kicks zombie ass?
Being a Special Edition, this disc has several pretty decent extras. First up is an audio commentary, which is good for a number of reasons. Firstly actors Jovovich and Rodriguez are included, as well as the director and producer. They all argue, and the girls just talk about whatever they want, from the Simpsons to what extras Milla watched on the Life of Brian DVD. She even promises to get breast and butt implants if we make the movie and DVD a success. Rodriguez doesn’t even know why she’s there at the beginning, or what they are doing. So it’s pretty cool. They do seem to be watching a slightly different version to us though as at least once they talk about something that is too low in the frame to be in the widescreen cut of the movie. There are five featurettes which are quite interesting, especially the dog makeup. One is about half an hour and the others are fairly short (5-10 minutes each), each giving a small insight into different areas. There are also a few of what I like to call ‘noddy extras’ (music video, filmographies, trailers for Res Evil and other movies including Spider-man and Men in Black 2 and production notes). It might be interesting to note that during the commentary the director actually says there is another commentary on the DVD by one of the special effects guys. However, it’s not present on this disc, so if the unrated edition ever emerges it might surface on that.

The dog never stood a chance.
This was a good movie. Its wide open for the next instalment, which as I type this is scheduled to start filming at the end of summer 2003. It’s a fun, violent, blood and bullets fest. You will jump in all the right places and be anxious to see who’s for the chop next. Break out the popcorn and the beers, get your friends round and have a good night.