I was invited to go see the latest Resident Evil atrocity. I knew full well what I was getting into, but I value spending time with friends more than not watching awful movies. Of course, many who know me would insist that those two tend to go hand-in-hand. I figured that if I was going to go see it, I'd do it right and catch up on the previous films so as to get the full "experience".
It'd been many years since I'd seen the first three Resident Evil films and I had, blissfully, forgotten almost every detail of the movies, except for my groaning dislike of their awful cobbling together of shitty second-rate American filmmaking with the kind of retarded bullshit that only the Japanese can muster up with a straight face. There is a special place in hell for the Japanese, who are completely incapable of writing anything that falls within the realms of logic, reason, or an attempt at any meaningful substance. You heap on top of that the likes of career moron Paul W.S. Anderson and you have a recipe for cinematic disaster.
For what it's worth, Resident Evil was bad in a way that I didn't really remember. I would have assumed it was strictly the boredom of watchng an ostensible zombie film that doesn't feature much in the way of killing zombies or the generally awful acting of Milla Jovovich, who can only convincingly play insane or mentally challenged characters. Instead, it was the tone of the film, which attempted to hybridize action and horror, or at least what Anderson probably imagines that horror would look like if he ever made a horror film. Many people seem to like his 90's abortion Event Horizon and, for its time, it wasn't completely awfu, but its poor attempts at doing a haunted house movie in space with liberal Hellraiser touches while cribbing the plot from Aliens couldn't honestly be categorized as "good" in any capacity. Resident Evil is a retread of that same tired plot, stolen from Aliens and aped badly, with a military force invading an abandoned and desolate installation, looking for survivors and to understand the events that caused a catastrophe; of course, things go to shit and most everyone dies horribly at the hands of monsters and misfortune. It's a good thing Anderson doesn't have to come up with a new plot, because I'm not sure he could manage it.
So we get an uneven, ugly-looking mess that, while made in the early 2000's, feels 5 years older than it actually is. The CGI is terrible and the overall effects are rather poor, the whole thing looking oddly dated and even more cheap than its $20-something million budget would imply.
The acting is actully one of the more reasonable parts of the film, as a good enough cast was assembled, but unfortunately they were put through the paces of a Paul W.S. Anderson plot, which involves spouting semi-moronic lines between bouts of people inexplicably doing stupid things before another fight scene is wedged in.
Of course, the plot is beyond contempt. Anderson tries to fit in some references to the games, which probably doesn't benefit anyone; those who like the games will undoubtedly not like the movies for reasons I probably can't understand, as the games are beneath contempt, and movie-viewers will find the whole of it to be sub-literate trash, not even making an attempt to deliver something interesting. Nothing translates to film quite like a series based around old adventure game keyhunt formulas of finding the right thing to get to the next part to find another thing to get to another place. The events of the games are nothing more than a Rube Goldberg device to get the cipher-like characters to a boss battle at the completion of a thin, nonsensical plot. The movie instead fills the time with fight scenes that aren't particularly interesting. But at least it doesn't attempt to imply a "horror" in "survival horror" that has always been non-existent in that genre.
Ultimately, the movie ended up being a bit more watchable than I remembered based solely on the fact that it was blessedly short and it spent so little time trying to provide background or personalities for the characters that I couldn't be too annoyed by how idiotic it was. It didn't start making me want to beat my own head in until near the end when I was forced to take laughably bad CGI monsters seriously. And I did enjoy a good part of Marilyn Manson's score, which often worked in places when it was sticking to dark, moody atmospherics and not throwing in out-of-place loops of guitar from Nine Inch Nails' "Wish".
Still, the poorly-plotted, cheap-looking, badly-paced, predictable, dated, silly, cliched mess created no new love for Anderson and only continued to detract from my opinion of anyone who can sit through these fourth-rate monstrosities with anything resembling a straight face or a belief that what they're watching is enjoyable.