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PHOTOGRAPHY

DVD Review: RESIDENT EVIL (DELUXE EDITION)

by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 101 minutes, alternate ending (with video introduction), cast commentary and visual effects commentary, 11 featurettes, 3 1/2 minute Resident Evil: Apocalypse clip, filmographies, and trailers.  Free movie ticket to RESIDENT EVIL:  APOCALYPSE.

STUDIO: Screen Gems/Columbia

Starring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Maibus, and Colin Salmon

written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

PLOT: A paramilitary team investigates why one of Umbrella Corporation's bio-labs called The Hive is locked down. They meet two survivors (with no memory) and a local cop before they enter the hive. Once they shut down the supercomputer called The Red Queen, they must face the undead and make sure the virus that made the undead doesn't get out of the Hive. Based on the popular video game series.

ANALYSIS: Paul Anderson loved the video games and wanted to make this movie. RESIDENT EVIL is like an early John Carpenter movie mixed in with some stuff from George Romero's zombie movies and Cube. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I still think it rocks. Milla Jovovich continues to grow in her acting skills. She is a natural in any tough chick role she plays in any sci-fi movie. Despite some people not liking this movie, I think it was the right decision to do a prequel to the games instead of an adaptation of one of the video games.

RESIDENT EVIL is a fast-paced claustrophobic action thriller that never lets up even when it makes you think everything to going to be all right. Paul Anderson gets solid and believable performances out of his actors.

VIDEO/AUDIO: The movie is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreeen. The colors and blacks are great, but the picture is a little soft. No artifacts are visible, and the video is nice and clear.

You can hear the movie in English 5.1, French 5.1, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, and Spanish Dolby Surround. There are English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitle tracks. The music and sound effects are loud. Sometimes they do drown out the dialogue a little bit.

COMMENTARIES: Two commentary tracks are on this DVD. The first one is a commentary track by director Paul W.S. Anderson, producer Jeremy Bolt, Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez. Milla and Michelle take over the commentary track many times, but Milla seems like she wants to be the center of attention. They talk about the video game, the movie (and how some things were done in the production like the flashback sequences were digitally graded by computer), and other movies (like the laser scene is a homage to CUBE). I do wonder who is the biggest geek of them since they are obviously all big geeks in real life. Everyone is at ease with each other and they are having fun. My favorite comment on this commentary track has to be Milla saying she will get breast implants if the DVD sells really well (I think she is joking).

The second commentary is a visual effects commentary with director Paul W.S. Anderson and Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Yuricich. They talk about how they did things to get certain shots, effects, and other things in the movie. Richard even talks about the miniature work in Blade runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Paul said Milla did all her own stunts except one that the insurance company wouldn't allow her to do. The movie had some digital color timing and other things done to some scenes to get the desired effect. The ending was shot after principal photography wrapped. This is a very insightful commentary on how things are done during a movie production and how much work is done to achieve what the viewer sees on screen.

SPECIAL FEATURES: First, the disc has 11 featurettes:

The first featurette (Playing Dead: Resident Evil From Game to Screen) is 15 minutes long as there is talk about the video games and why everyone involved wanted to do a Resident Evil movie (and why the director wanted to do the movie as a prequel to the games and how he structured the movie like the video games).

SCORING RESIDENT EVIL features interviews with Paul W.S. Anderson, Marco Beltrami, and Marilyn Manson. Paul talks about how he wanted a electronic score like in the early films of John Carpenter. Also you hear how Marilyn and Marco approach music differently (Marco approaches music from melodies and themes where Marilyn Manson is like a sound designer), and there is the story of how they were adding the music to the movie (during editing) and how something in the music was driving the editor's poodle crazy.

STORYBOARDING RESIDENT EVIL is 6 1/2 minutes long and compares three scenes to the storyboards. Next up are featurettes on the Costumes and Production Design of RESIDENT EVIL. Milla Jovovich talks about her costume in the movie, the production designer tells how he approached the costumes in the movie. Also you see sketches of the costumes and sets of the movie. They wanted the Hive feel like a labyrinth.

Rounding out the featurettes are featurettes showing how the elevator scene was shot in miniature, mixing a real train in with a miniature train, the laser sequence of the movie (including how they made a full scale dummy of Colim Salmon to pull apart in pieces), how the creature for the movie was created (some footage showing it being made and some production footage of the creature being set up and filmed), how the zombie dogs were done (lots of behind-the-scenes footage of the dogs including make-up being applied to a dog), and the zombies of the movie (footage of the actors being trained to be zombies and make-up being put on to make them look like zombies, but it is freaky seeing a zombie version of Michelle Rodriguez smoking a cigarette and a zombie drinking through a straw).

Other special features include filmographies on the main players of the cast and crew, an alternate ending (that was shot because the director didn't know if he could shoot the original ending with the budget given) with a video introduction by Paul W.S. Anderson, a 3 1/2 minute clip aka the laboratory sequence (from RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE)  in 2.35:1 widescreen that shows Milla Jovovich gives an even better performance in the sequel and you can see some quick flashes of other scenes in the movie (look at it in slow speed), and trailers for RESIDENT EVIL, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE, KINGDOM HOSPITAL, and HELLBOY.    I do wish they included a short featurette on the sequel and the new trailer that premiered on the internet this summer.

Enclosed with the DVD is a free movie ticket to RESIDENT EVIL APOCALYPSE.

MENUS: Nice computer screen feel to the way the menu streams the images from the movie as it looks like they are being loaded up onto the screen.

FINAL ANALYSIS: If you love the movie and don't have the first DVD (and want to bone up on the movie before the sequel), go buy the Deluxe Edition of RESIDENT EVIL..   The movie still rocks with repeated viewings.

this review is (c)8-25-2004 David Blackwell. This review cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com

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This review isn't endorsed by the Umbrella Corporation.