“ Genre: Horror / Theatrical Release: 2002 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Paul W.S. Anderson, Alexander Witt / Actors: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr ... / DVD released 2005-02-07 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Box set, PAL, Widescreen „
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Two pretty mediocre films from Paul W.S. Anderson here. Both are adaptations of the Resident Evil franchise, specifically set during the course of the 2nd and 3rd games. Filled with lots of zombies and action and conspiracy and cool guns, both movies are definitely worth watching for fans of the franchise, but those looking for a general action-horror experience might want to search elsewhere. Both my reviews of the individual films that make up this box-set can be found here.
Basically its a pair of gun-heavy, switch-your-brain-off but enjoyable and surprisingly watchable videogame spinoffs that has proven to impress the fanboys all over the West. Although the casting is a bit off in some places, Milla Jovovich kicks some serious ass throughout, with lots of gunplay and cool stunt sequences.
Nonetheless both films are just that little bit stale. Both are completely irrelevant to the game's canon and, despite special effects, do fall a bit short sometimes. Nods to the videogame, especially in the first title are a little bit clumsy and the plot of both movies do become a little bit convoluted. That is to say, it looks like the kind of pair of films that would complement a beer and a pizza really well, but they're actually surprisingly cerebral for films of this tone. Both are a bit complicated and even drag in places but i can't stress that fans of the game will definitely enjoy them on at least some level.
Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about this set as a package. First up, the cover and conceptual artwork of the box itself is truly a thing of beauty. Lots of sexy, zombie filled concept art and pull-out prints. The Outbreak pack also offers a few behind the scenes extras and an interview which, whilst lacking in the original release of the dvds, is also available online, devaluing it a bit I'm afraid, but the pack still looks really cool although it would now be a bit silly to buy brand new, since it's missing the third and fourth film, although perhaps some day, it might qualify as a collectors item.
Overall this is an outdated, but very attractive looking DVD pack, slightly outdated with the dawn of blu-ray and release of more sequels, that does actually contain the best films of the franchise, even though they aren't particularly good to begin with. Recommended only to the more die-hard Resident Evil fans, and collectors.
Video games that have been adapted into films get a bad rap, and generally with good reason, because they are poorly written, shoddily acted and sloppily directed. I held out a lot of hope that the Resident Evil games might translate better to film form than the films that have preceded them, such as the dreadful Super Mario Bros., but the results are decidedly mixed.
The first film revolves around a young woman, Alice (Milla Jovovich), who wakes up in a mansion with no memory of who she is or where. An elite team of soldiers find her, and tell her that the research facility she works for her been sabotaged by its own AI called the Red Queen, and that they have 90 minutes to work their way through the facility to a train system or they will be sealed down there forever. Thus they encounter lots of zombies and other baddies, and the film has a definite B-movie charm that I found quite entertaining, and somewhat makes up for its total lack of faith to the video game storyline.
The second film is very poor, though, and has the research facility being re-opened by Major Cain, who wants to extrapolate DNA samples and continue genetic research. Alice, meanwhile, appears to have developed special powers, and is being sought after by Cain. Meanwhile, Matt from the first film has since turned into Nemesis from the third game, a hulking monster, but sadly he is recreated here as a very obvious man in a plastic-looking suit. Furthermore, they ruin his character and try to make him sympathetic, which just falls flat and is very awkward, especially when Alice beats him in a fistfight! Even with characters like Jill Valentine, this is a dodgy adaptation that in trying to be more faithful has actually wound up being less entertaining.
The first film has a more broad, silly, B-movie like appeal, but the second film really isn't very entertaining and I wouldn't recommend it. Thus I recommend just buying the first film instead of this set.
I'm not entirely sure why, but I do love this box set. I may be a little biased in that I have a thing for the games. It may also be that I am utterly in love with the soundtrack for both the movies which is some good old heavy rock.
I can quite freely admit that these two are not the best films out there. At times the acting isn't amazing (then again at other times it really is). The effects are nothing too fantastic, not to say that they aren't good, just to say that given a bigger budget they could have done a lot better with it. The third film is a perfect example. Unfortunatley, this pack is only the first two movies.
The action is certainly wow-inducing, nothing like seeing a full grown woman (Milla Jovovich) giving a roundhouse kick to the head of a zombie dog (even if the zombie dog did look like less like a zombie dog and more like it had just chewed up your favourite red net curtains)
The story line was actually quite well done in the first movie. Obviously its never going to be exactly the same as the games, but the first movie done this without too much trouble. A few differences here and there (none I can actually think of at the moment, but I do remember a moment or two of confusion while watching and thinking "was that in the game?!?")
The second film...now that I had more of a problem with. Give it its due, it was a great film. The story got better, the acting had improved, they threw in some new people and manged to show exactly how ruthless the people at Umbrella corp. really are. They even kept the creepy little girl (played by Sophie Vavasseur) with the English accent (why, I am not sure, but she is the creepiest thing IN the movie. Something chilling about a kid telling you in no uncertain terms that you are going to die.)
Unfortunately they messed BIG TIME with the story. There is a major plot turn near the end that just does not, could not, would not, no way, no how, happen in the game. Its crazy to the point of me cursing them for trying to put in some sort of happy ending.
I'd love to go into a lot more detail about that but I'd hate to spoil it for you people who have not seen it (even if it IS a ridiculous turn for the character in question)
Strangely this does not hurt my perception of the films so far as some great entertainment. As long as you take them for what they are supposed to be (A high tech zombie movie with plenty ass kicking and popcorn flinging jumpy bits in it) then they really are good. Cult Movie? Possibly. Good movie? Definitely!
Then it comes to the extras. Its got enough to keep anyone who's crazy about the films going for an extra hour or two, with cast commentaries, bloopers and "making of" reels. Throw in the hidden music video on the first disc and I nearly wet myself.
The box its self is very visually appealing and the menus on the discs are rather cool as well, with everything set up as if you have just hacked into umbrella's computers in your spare time.
I think these films have, by far, a very "love it or hate it" situation going on. Personally I love them and I cannot wait for the next one.
As for value for money, that depends on the person. It is quite an expensive box set to hunt down (I hear it was limited edition) If you feel the urge to collect everything Resident evil, then yes, this is a must have. If you aren't too fussed by extras then I'd recommend waiting a little longer so you can buy a box set with all three movies in.