tek's rating: ½

Resident Evil (R)
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This came out in 2002, but I didn't see it until 2018. It's based on a video game I've never played. It's a sci-fi action horror zombie movie, and the first entry in a fairly long-running franchise. (Though I guess there have been some anime movie adaptations of the video game series that aren't part of this franchise.)

It begins with some explanation about the Umbrella Corporation being this incredibly rich and powerful company, and the ubiquity of its various products, and the fact that some of what it does is top secret military research. Then we see the Hive, a genetic research facility which is part of the Umbrella Corporation, and which is located deep underground, below Raccoon City. An unseen thief steals a case full of double-helix-shaped vials of a virus (called the "T-virus") that had been developed there, then smashes one of the vials on the floor of the lab. After the thief leaves, we see various scientists and other people who work there going about their jobs, unaware of the smashed vial. But the computer security system is aware of it, and begins locking down the facility, to contain the virus. This means killing everyone who works there.

After that, a woman (played by Milla Jovovich) wakes up naked in a shower. We soon learn that she has no memory of who she is or where she is. (I think the closing credits call her "Alice," and certainly the internet does. But as far as I recall, we never hear her name in this movie.) As she walks through the house in which she finds herself, trying to figure things out, a man shows up and tries to protect her from a group of commandos who suddenly burst into the house. They're led by a guy whom Wikipedia informs me is called James "One" Shade (Colin Salmon). They all work for Umbrella Corp, and apparently Alice does, too. She and another agent lived in the house, pretending to be a married couple, to guard the secret entrance that leads to an underground train which itself serves as transport to the Hive. But part of the security measures the computer enacted included dosing the two agents with gas that rendered them unconscious and temporarily erased their memories. Anyway, the man who tried to protect Alice calls himself Matt Addison, and says he's a cop who just transferred to Raccoon City. It's unclear whether that's true or not, so for now, the commandos take him prisoner (rather than simply killing him). Um... I want to say I never managed to count exactly how many commandos there were, but the only one who really mattered to me, aside from Shade, was a woman named Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), who was kind of a badass (though not as much as Alice eventually turns out to be).

Well, the commandos take Alice and Matt with them on the underground train, where they find Alice's "husband," Spence (James Purefoy), who has also lost his memory. The team knows that five hours earlier, the computer's A.I., called the Red Queen, had killed everyone in the Hive, but they have no idea why. So, their mission is to deactivate her. She ends up killing some commandos in a particularly gruesome way, but eventually the survivors reach her. She activates an avatar hologram of a little girl, modeled after her programmer's daughter, to try and dissuade them from shutting her down. (This whole little girl A.I. concept somewhat reminded me of the "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" episodes of Doctor Who, which is, I think, kind of ironic, considering Colin Salmon had a role in those episodes, as a sort of caretaker to the A.I.) What I don't understand is why the Red Queen was unable to contact anyone at Umbrella Corp, outside the Hive, to explain her actions. And even more so, why she didn't explain it to the commandos, instead of just giving cryptic warnings like "You're all going to die down here." Of course, they should have listened, because shutting her down is what leads to the zombie part of the movie. But she could have freaking mentioned that beforehand, right?

Anyway, like I said, now there are zombies. The virus developed in the Hive, as the Red Queen later explains, much too late, enhances the electrical impulses and whatnot that can make bodies move even after death. And so, that's what has become of all the Hive workers whom the Red Queen had previously killed. And of course, anyone who subsequently gets bitten or scratched by the zombies can end up turning into a zombie, themselves... though the transformation won't actually happen until after they die. Which, you know, if you're trapped underground with a horde of ravening zombies, probably won't take long. So the few people who survive have to try to fight their way through all the zombies and make it to the surface, even while the Red Queen (after being reactivated) tries to prevent that, to keep the virus from getting out. Oh, and there are also zombie attack dogs, as well as one extra-monstrous zombie creature, the result of another Hive experiment.

Eventually, we learn a secret about Matt that I don't want to spoil. And secrets about both Alice and Spence that I don't want to spoil. And something happens to Matt that I don't want to spoil. Yeah, basically, I'm not going to say anything else about the plot of the movie. Except that it sets up the next movie. And since I watched this in a two disc set that contains the first four (of six) movies in the franchise, I should get around to watching the second movie before too long. Meanwhile, I'll just say that I thought the movie was fairly entertaining. Not particularly good, but certainly entertaining. (There are other modern zombie movies that are better than this, which I found less entertaining.)

Resident Evil * Apocalypse * Extinction * Afterlife * Retribution * The Final Chapter

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