Resident Evil

Resident Evil (2001)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Music Video, Trailers, Filmographies

’Resident Evil’ has been a problem-child from its inception. Based on Capcom’s highly successful video game, the movie had problems from the beginning of its production. Zombie-master George A. Romero was tapped to direct and write the film at the time but dropped out of the project some time along the lines. Eventually Paul Anderson took the director’s chair and turned the game into a movie.

There is nothing original about ’Resident Evil.’ The entire film is a collage of elements, scenes and situations you have seen countless times in other movies. Still, I like the film. A lot, actually. The reason why ’Resident Evil’ convinces despite the fact that it is entirely unoriginal and derivative lies in its atmosphere. There are not very many zombie movies that are able to conjure up a truly scary atmosphere. Most of them are ridiculous and never manage to create real terror in the viewer. Well, like ’Dawn of the Dead’ for example, ’Resident Evil’ is different. It is a very taut film with extremely intense and scary moments.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is releasing ’Resident Evil’ in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The transfer is meticulously clean and entirely free of defects. The image reveals a very high level of detail with beautiful colors that are rendered vibrantly and absolutely faithfully to the original film. Fleshtones are neutral looking and with its deep and solid blacks, the image has very good visual depth. No edge-enhancement or compression artifacts are visible in the presentation, leaving every bit of picture detail intact.

On the audio side, the DVD comes with an aggressive 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track that is complemented by an equally ferocious French 5.1 track. Surrounds are engaged literally constantly and in the action scenes of the movie, the viewer is bombarded from all directions. The dynamic range of the track is very good with an incredible bass extension and crystal clear high ends. Dialogues are very well integrated and always understandable. Only the music track is comparably weak with an audio mix that is very harsh and rock music cues that never fully manage to capture the atmosphere on the screen.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has added a bunch of extras on this release ,such as a commentary track with director Paul Anderson, producer Jeremy Bolt and actresses Michelle Rodriguez and Milla Jovovich. The commentary is a mixed bag. At times Anderson and Bolt try to get in to production details when Jovovich simply destroys their attempts with her squealing self-effacing shallowness. It is ultimately an entertaining track, but sadly one that is not informative on any technical level, which his disappointing.

The DVD also contains a number of short featurettes highlighting various aspects of the movie. These featurettes range from making-of and scoring the movie to brief looks at the costumes and zombie make-up. A music video and trailers can also be fond on the disc.

As I pointed out in the beginning, ’Resident Evil’ is a rip-off from beginning to end – and don’t tell me it’s a homage! Uninspired and unoriginal, the film nonetheless convinces on its effectiveness of using the best elements of the zombie genre to create a visually stunning and scary film. The fact that it is extremely non-graphic only adds to the appeal as it leaves many things to your imagination rather than splattering the screen with gratuitous blood and gore.