Is it ever a good idea to use a video game as the basis for a movie? The question is still up for debate, but in my opinion, it is a hit or miss proposition- just like transcribing any other source material to the silver screen. Video games do not have the depth of novels, plays, histories or even biographies, but if one were setting out to make an action/horror movie- Resident Evil seems to be the perfect springboard for such an enterprise. But then again, a movie version of House Of The Dead is currently in the works- and it too would seem to be the ideal basis to start up a new action/horror movie franchise.
RESIDENT EVIL ($28) is a slick, fast paced movie that incorporates elements of the science fiction, horror and action movie genres. Set in a high tech underground corporate research facility known as The Hive, RESIDENT EVIL tells the story of what happens when the Red Queen, The Hiveís computer system, kills everyone on the inside of the facility. A corporate commando team is dispatched to infiltrate The Hive and shut down the Red Queen, so they can discover just what went wrong. As it turns out, a genetically engineered virus infected The Hive and the Red Queen was only following the quarantine protocol when she exterminated all the employees.
Unfortunately, the commandos learn the truth too late, and by shutting down the Red Queen, they unleash a hoard flesh-eating zombies- the dead employees, who have been transformed by the virus. This leaves the commandos to fight off the ravenous dead, while trying to escape the labyrinthine facility before the corporation permanently seals The Hive. The cast of RESIDENT EVIL features Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, Pasquale Aleardi, Colin Salmon, Heike Makatsch, Liz May Brice, Jaymes Butler and Michaela Dicker.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made RESIDENT EVIL available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. There is no doubt about it; this is a dynamite transfer of difficult material. Cinematographer David Johnson has pulled out all the stops, utilizing colored lighting, filters and various printing techniques to create a number of different moods throughout the course of the film. I really like how the filmís production design and cinematography mesh the austere antiseptic world of The Hive with the grittiness of the facilityís underbelly, once it becomes populated with the living dead.
The transfer renders every bit of RESIDENT EVIL with wonderful clarity and generous detail. Colors range from fully saturated to subdued- depending on the desired mood, all of which is reproduced without chroma noise or smearing. Flesh tones almost never look natural, but that is attributable to the filmís lighting. Blacks are perfectly inky and shadow detail is usually excellent. Whites become blown out much of the time and contrast is generally harsh by design. The film element used for the transfer is free from blemishes, although a grain structure is noticeable in many of the films darker sequences. The dual layer DVD keeps digital compression artifacts very well concealed.
RESIDENT EVIL sports a really kicking Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that immediately goes to the top of demo quality pile. To say that this soundtrack is aggressively mixed is an understatement. Sounds come from everywhere, plus individual effects can move effortlessly in any direction. The mix perfectly creates sonic environments that are filled with sounds; yet never seem cluttered. Dialogue is crisp, clean and always fully understandable. The bass channel is guaranteed to give your subwoofer a workout, so if you crank the volume, better take the breakables off the shelves. Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson collaborated on the filmís score, and the end result produces something reminiscent of Goblinís music on Dario Argentoís SUSPIRIA. Of course, the end result of the collaboration creates something that works perfectly on a movie like RESIDENT EVIL. As for how the music sounds, in a word, incredible. A French 5.1 channel soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English and French subtitles.
Animation and sound serve to enhanced the very cool interface of the DVDís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a running audio commentary featuring director Paul W.S. Anderson, producer Jeremy Bolt and actors Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriquez. This track is a must listen for entertainment value alone- this is one funny commentary. However, anyone looking for a serious discussion of the movie making process had better try another commentary on another DVD.
There are five programs listed under featurette, although only two of the programs truly qualify for that description. Running almost thirty minutes is The Making of Resident Evil, which has a bit more depth than the typical fluffy PR piece. The program does feature a reasonably detailed look behind-the-scenes, as well as the usual interviews with cast and crew. Clocking in at ten minutes is Scoring Resident Evil, which provides interesting interview footage with Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson, who discuss their collaboration. The other three programs are entitled Costumes, Set Design, and Zombie Make-Up Tests have a combined running time of approximately ten minutes- and the titles give the gist of their content. A Slipknot music video for the song My Plague, a theatrical trailer and cast & crew filmographies close out the supplements.
RESIDENT EVIL proves to be a very good video game to movie adaptation- it is fast moving, loud and provides plenty of violence. If you like horror movies or action movies or even the video game that inspired it, you will want to check out RESIDENT EVIL on DVD. Of course, if you are looking for a new demo quality DVD to give you sound system a workout, they you will definitely want to pick up a copy of RESIDENT EVIL. However, with a two disc, even more special edition of RESIDENT EVIL on the way, fans may just want to rent this DVD and buy the next one when it is released.
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