Where have you gone, George Romero, as a nation turns its gory eyes to
you? Woo hoo hoo? “Resident Evil 2” has the fortune/misfortune to be
released during what has been dubbed Mega Zombie Love-Fest Weekend 2004.
Currently waiting patiently on my desk are the brand-spanking-new
four-disc “Dawn of the Dead” DVD, and as a sultry companion, the
recently-released 2-disc of Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” (or, to be technical,
“Zombi 2,” an unofficial Italian sequel to “Dawn.”) You could say I’ve
got zombie on the brain (or on the “Brains, brains, brains” if you’re a
“Return of the Living Dead” fan).
But before I get off and running on a contemplation of Ken Foree
compared to Clu Gluger, I’ve come to talk about “Resident Evil 2” and
talk about it I shall. As a film, it is terrible, and as a zombie film,
it is terrible, but as an evening at the movies, you could do a lot
worse. It is never boring, and if the absurdity of the story gets to
you, shame on you for going to see a movie called “Resident Evil 2.”
Sure, Romero can craft an exciting zombie flick that allows for
character development and social commentary, but to expect as much from
Paul W.S. Anderson is kind of like expecting Woody Allen to direct the
Michael-Bay-produced remake of “976-EVIL.” Anderson, who wrote and
directed the original “Resident,” but only wrote this one to give him
time to work on his epic genre cross-over “Alien vs. The Poopsmith” is
more interested in loud monsters and fast cutting than he is in
character, story, and not destroying two beloved horror franchise in one
This effort is directed by Alexander Witt, who has a long
history as a second unit DP on some very good studio fare (such as
“Speed” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”). His direction is easy, and
his only vision seems to be to get the audience to applaud when main
characters do cool things or say awesome one-liners like “You missed one”
after dispatching a particularly deadly un-dead. It’s the sort of movie
you would watch on cable, but not be too upset if you had to stop in the
middle to attend a bar mitzvah or have open-heart surgery. Painless
fun, never-boring, and it veers away from the zombie-horror of the first
film to a more accessible “zombie-actioner.”
“Resident Evil 2” really isn’t that bad, it only suffers from
the comparison to the slight renaissance the walking corpses have had in
the past few years. “28 Days Later,” “Shaun of the Dead,” and even the
it-wasn’t-so-bad remake of “Dawn” have spoiled those of us that thought
“My Boyfriend’s Back” might be the last zombie movie ever made.
Compare it to Uwe Boll’s “House of the Dead,” however, and “RE2” is
“Rosemary’s Baby.” A good comparison may be to “Jason X.” If you
like your horror replete with slo-mo shots of a motorcycle crashing
through a church window, while the rider shoots a sawed-off shotgun, and
you don’t mind hard-rock and CGI, you could do a lot worse.
“RE2” starts off where its predecessor left off, with the
uber-powerful Umbrella Corporation still jacking around with the
T-virus, and making the beautiful Alice (played by the stunning MIlla
Jovovich) into a killing machine. Soon the zombie-making virus leads to
an outbreak, and the Umbrella-controlled Raccoon City must be evacuated.
Of course, Umbrella is willing to kill anyone to prevent further
outbreak, so the evacuation is cut off in the middle. You’d think the
people that got out right before the gate closed would have maybe said
something to the authorities, but, to quote “The Simpsons,” please go
point out your plot holes somewhere else.
Alice teams up with Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory, looking
exactly like her character from the game) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr,
“The Mummy Returns”), as well as a little girl and a spunky reporter,
and a funny, jive-talking black dude (Mike Epps) for comic relief. They
must figure out a way to flee Raccoon City before morning, when of
course the whole city will be nuked. Added to the mix is the Nemesis, a
super-being developed by Umbrella that looks The Chatterer from
“Hellraiser,” after a few days at Vic Tanney. He’s cool to look at,
and the final showdown with Alice is so absurd in set-up and execution,
that it’ll make or break the movie for you. Ridiculous action fun or
lazy scripting, you be the judge.
Remember: When there’s no more room in hell, Paul W.S. Anderson
movies shall walk the Earth.