"What if he's watching us on those cameras, like this
is some sort of game?" — Jill Valentine, halfway through
I'm a zombie fanboy. I will watch just about any flick with
zombies in it, no matter how bad. So it should come as no surprise
that I'm a fan of the Resident Evil PlayStation games.
I love the first two; have two Lickers and a Nemesis figure
on my computer desk and the Resident Evil sticker that
came with the Nemesis on my monitor. Keep all this in mind as
you read further.
I really liked the first Resident Evil movie. It wasn't
a great film, but it was very enjoyable. It had cool music,
cool effects, lots of zombies, a few "real" shock moments, a
few scant peeks of nudity and a stand-out performance by Michelle
Rodriguez as Rain. The main problem was that as a zombie film,
it was pretty bloodless.
There are a few bites and icky creatures, but the zombies really
didn't tear into anyone. The new Dawn of the Dead was
a lot bloodier. It was really frustrating because Resident
Evil was an R-rated movie, so it's not like they had to
preserve their PG-13 and had to hold back. You're doing a zombie
movie, go all out!
This movie is a bit more of the same. And that's its biggest
problem. We have a few bits of "more" in places. More zombies.
More action. More complex stunts. But once again, it's pretty
bloodless for a zombie flick. Most of the deaths happen just
after a quick cut away, then a shot of the aftermath a few moments
later. The film is an R mainly for nudity and kung fu or gun
violence. I don't know, maybe the original Dawn ruined
me, but I want my zombies to really CHEW on people.
Plot-wise, the movie is a mixed bag. Paul W. S. Anderson wrote
the script for this one and the first one, but this time he
was too busy with Alien vs. Predator to direct. The
film is much more "video game"-based than the first one was,
to its detriment.
As you watch, you can practically see the "LOADING —
PLEASE WAIT" between scenes. Thoughts like "OK, in this level
I have to cross the bridge, watch the cut scene, then fight
the Nemesis," leap to mind as the action unfolds.
The story picks up around the end of the first film with a
decent recap sequence, where it's explained how the evil Umbrella
(boo! hiss!) Corporation was testing bio-weapons in a secret
lab under Raccoon City.
Of course things go Horribly Wrong, and the T-Virus, which
makes zombies, is unleashed, turning the helpless workers into
a horde o' zombies. Now the facility has been re-opened and
the virus has spread into the city, which is promptly overrun
by the zombie hordes.
After that recap, we're introduced to our leads Alice (Milla
"Big ba-da-BOOM" Jovovich), who survived the first film but
is now not all together human; police officer Jill Valentine
(Sienna "sexy gal with a gun" Guillory); and Umbrella Spec-Op
Carlos Olivera (Oded "best thing in the Mummy movies"
They and a gaggle of mostly disposable side characters (most
of whom you know are destined to be Zombie Chow when you see
them) are trying to make their way out of the city before Umbrella
"sanitizes" the city.
The standout side character is Mike Epps as LJ, a street-smart,
small-time cook. He's well played, for what's really just a
1970s-style urban caricature. I expected him to punctuate every
other line with "honky," but he's fun.
Meanwhile evil Umbrella scientist Dr. Isaacs (Iain "I was bad
in Tomb Raider" Glen) decides this is the perfect time
to test the Nemesis program and sics said monster on our team.
So there is lots of running, shooting, kung fu and other such
Resident Evil 2 is definitely more of an action flick
than a horror movie; it's just got zombies instead of car chases.
The main problem is that the direction of the fight scenes is
jumbled with lots of quick cuts, jerky filming, and weird blurry
slo-mo at times, which makes some of the action hard to follow.
After Spider-Man 2, which had frantic but clear fights
between Doc Ock and Spidey, I'm getting spoiled. The rest of
the direction is nicely done, but then Witt has worked for both
Ridley Scott and Gore Verbinski, so he's bound to have picked
up a few good pointers.
The effects and makeup are nicely done, but most of the movie
takes place at night in a city without power, so that darkness
covers a lot of errors. The Nemesis, however, is just about
perfect. It's like someone blew up the figure on my desktop
to full size and set it loose. My kudos to the makeup team for
the work they did on him. The zombies are also well done, and
the cool zombie dogs return as do the Lickers via CG, but only
in one scene.
There are a few standout scenes: the Umbrella Spec-Ops and
cops' last stand against the zombie horde; watching Alice beat
up zombies and goons; Oded rappeling down from a chopper with
two guns blazing to try and save a woman in distress; any scene
with the Nemesis, and the gaggles of zombies, especially in
We have even more nudity in this film, provided by some undead
strippers and Milla, who is once again naked at the end of the
movie. Milla being nude at the end of Resident Evil films
might be a theme for her in these flicks, we'll know for sure
when the third one comes out. And since in three days this one
grossed more than its budget, you know there will be a third
Overall, Resident Evil 2 is decent but it doesn't
put in enough effort to be great. It just coasts into average.
If they had gone all-out with the zombies, I'd rate it higher;
I still don't understand why they hold back on the zombie action.
The unclear fights, jumpy plot, lack of real zombie carnage
and thumbnail characters really hold it back.