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flick pick | Resident Evil 2002
Directed + written by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: horror, thriller, action, sci-fi
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  action-packed
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis In futuristic Raccoon City, the all-pervasive Umbrella Corporation has built a top-secret research facility deep underground. Nicknamed "The Hive," the facility serves as home and office to the many folks who work there. The reason for all the secrecy is simple: the main focus of Hive research is developing super-deadly and completely illegal high-tech military weapons, mostly with a biological basis. When an experimental virus is somehow unleashed from containment in one of the research laboratories, the artificial intelligence supercomputer that oversees all aspects of Hive function goes berserk. Sprinkler systems go haywire, elevators shut down mid-stream, rooms get locked-down, and normal operations cease -- trapping the Hive's workers and dooming them to a fate that turns out to be worse than death. Meanwhile, upstairs in the grand mansion that serves as a real world front for the Hive, a woman regains consciousness to find herself collapsed in a tub clutching the shower curtain. She can't remember anything at first, beyond a vague memory of a colored gas seeping in through her showerhead (and in the movie at least, we never learn her name, though in the film credits and presumably the video game, she's named Alice). She's roaming around the mansion trying to regain her bearings when she bumps into a guy named Matt, who says he's a cop. Suddenly, a paramilitary team swoops in, taking the woman and Matt into their custody. The team leader informs them that the Umbrella Corp has realized that the Hive's computer has severely malfunctioned, and that their mission is to investigate the problem and get things back to working order. Things don't turn out to be that simple, however, as the team -- now with Alice, Matt, and another amnesiac named Spence -- descends further into the Hive. They quickly learn that they face a far worse problem than having to repair a computer glitch: the virus has turned all the Hive workers into crazed flesh-eating zombies. Battling zombies, a homicidal supercomputer, and more grave threats, the group now finds itself in a struggle to survive -- with Alice, who's gradually regaining her memory, in control at the helm.

Review I'm such a movie review geek that it's a rare occasion when I actually go into a movie having heard absolutely nothing about it. But perhaps because sci-fi zombie flicks based on violent popular video games have never been an area of even remote interest to me, Resident Evil had somehow managed to escape my review radar when I found myself dragged in to see it at the theaters a few years back by my friend Spencer and the boy. So imagine my amazement when thirty minutes into the movie, I had this sudden realization: I'm having fun! Huh. Writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson actually does a good job of putting us in the same fragmented mindset of the unnamed mystery women at the outset of the movie. We see a little of what's going on at the Hive, a bit of what's happening at the mansion, a snippet of some memory that's just crossed the woman's mind. It's all a little hard to follow, but shot with oodles of atmosphere and accompanied by a thumping soundtrack, the effect is perfect: a little unsettling, a lot intriguing. Most of all, the movie benefits from the presence of Milla Jovovich as Alice, who looks feisty and strong and smart, and is completely believable as a kick-ass action heroine. Resident Evil is by no means a cinematic masterpiece. In some ways, I might even describe it as bad (okay, actually, by many of the standards by which I'd normally judge a film). The plot is only really interesting for the first third or so of the film, after which any semblance of story quickly gives way to fighting one hostile creature after another; the "dialogue" is about as cliché and monosyllabic as you can get; the character development is just shy of nil; the monsters are often just plain silly. My brain knows all this, and yet, I have to admit: on a visceral level, Resident Evil still kinda-sorta makes me go whee! —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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