Resident Evil is a 2002 action horror film written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and produced by Bernd Eichinger and Jeremy Bolt. The film stars Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez. It is the first installment in the Resident Evil film series, which is loosely based on the video game series of the same name. It also stars Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, and Colin Salmon.
Borrowing elements from the video games Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, the film follows amnesiac heroine Alice and a band of Umbrella Corporation commandos as they attempt to contain the outbreak of the T-virus at a secret underground facility. The film received mixed reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing more than $100 million worldwide.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul W. S. Anderson|
|Written by||Paul W. S. Anderson|
|Edited by||Alexander Berner|
Constantin Film (Germany)|
Pathé (United Kingdom)
|Box office||$103 million|
Underneath Raccoon City exists a genetic research facility called the Hive, owned by the Umbrella Corporation. A thief steals the genetically engineered T-virus and contaminates the Hive with it. In response, the facility's artificial intelligence, the Red Queen, seals the Hive and kills everyone inside.
Alice awakens in the bathroom of a deserted mansion with temporary amnesia, caused by the Red Queen having flooded the mansion with gas. She dresses, checks the mansion, and is subdued by an unknown person. A group of commandos led by James Shade breaks into the mansion and arrests Matt Addison, who just transferred as a cop in Raccoon P.D. The group boards a train under the mansion that takes them to the Hive, where they find Spence. The commandos explain that everyone in the group except Matt is an employee of the Umbrella Corporation, and Alice and her partner Spence are security guards for a Hive entrance under the disguise of a couple living in the mansion.
At the Red Queen's chamber, a laser defense system kills Shade and three more commandos. Despite the Red Queen's urgent pleas for the group to leave, Kaplan disables it, causing the power to fail and all of the doors in the Hive to open. This releases the zombified staff and containment units containing Lickers, creatures created through experimentation with the T-virus. When everyone regroups, they are ambushed by a horde of zombies and a gunfight ensues. J.D. perishes as the group is overwhelmed. A bitten Rain retreats with Kaplan and Spence; Matt becomes separated from Alice, who starts regaining her memories.
Matt looks for information about his sister, Lisa, and finds her zombified. Alice saves him, and Matt explains he and Lisa were environmental activists, and Lisa infiltrated Umbrella to smuggle out the evidence of illegal experiments. Alice remembers she was Lisa's contact in the Hive but does not tell Matt. The survivors reunite at the Red Queen's chamber, and the commandos explain they have one hour before the Hive traps them inside automatically. Alice and Kaplan activate the Red Queen to find an exit. To force her cooperation, they rig a remote shutdown. As they escape through maintenance tunnels, zombies ambush them, and a reanimated J.D. bites Rain before getting killed. They all reach safety except Kaplan, who is bitten and separated from the group.
Alice remembers that an anti-virus is in the lab, but they find it missing. Spence remembers he stole and released the T-virus, and hid it and anti-virus on the train. He turns against the others but is bitten by a zombie, which he kills before trapping the survivors in the lab. Spence retrieves the anti-virus, but is then killed by a Licker. The Red Queen offers to spare Alice and Matt if they kill Rain, whose health is fading and who has been infected too long for the anti-virus to work reliably. As the Licker attempts to reach them, a power outage occurs. The lab door opens to reveal that a still-alive Kaplan shut down the Red Queen to open the door. The group heads to the train, where Alice retrieves the T-virus and kills a reanimated Spence before escaping with the others.
On the train, they inject Rain and Kaplan with the anti-virus. However, the Licker is hiding on the train and attacks them, clawing Matt and killing Kaplan. In the ensuing battle, Alice subdues the Licker before Matt is attacked by a now-zombified Rain. He shoots Rain dead, causing her head to hit a trapdoor button, opening it and dropping the Licker under the train, which kills it. At the mansion, Matt's wound begins mutating. Before Alice can give him the anti-virus, the mansion doors burst open and a group of Umbrella scientists seizes them. They subdue Alice and take Matt away, revealing he is to be put into the Nemesis Program, and that the Hive is to be re-opened for investigation into the incident.
Some time later, Alice awakens at the Raccoon City Hospital strapped to an examination table, with no memory of what happened since her capture. After escaping, she goes outside to find Raccoon City deserted and in ruins.
German production company Constantin Film bought the film rights for Resident Evil in January 1997, and they hired screenwriter Alan B. McElroy to write the script. The May 1998 issue of PlayStation magazine (PSN) published an article titled Resident Evil: The Movie, about McElroy's script. Described as being action and horror packed, and also very violent, the script was similar to the original game. Some changes were made, for example there was no mention of the Umbrella Corporation or STARS. Instead the plot was about a special forces team sent by the government to rescue scientists from the mansion laboratory. The special forces team included all the characters from the game. The script also included all the game's monsters, and the team would have to fight each of them. McElroy's script was rejected.
In 1998, George A. Romero directed a television commercial for the video game Biohazard 2 (Resident Evil 2). According to Jamie Russell's Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema, the original game's director, Shinji Mikami, was a fan of Romero and had been influenced by his films. The commercial was only shown in Japan, but impressed Sony enough for them to ask him to write and direct Resident Evil. Romero stated in an appearance in Universal Studios' Talk City chatroom that he had his secretary play the entire game through and record the gameplay so he could study it as a resource. Romero's screenplay was based on the first Resident Evil game and included characters from the video games. Chris and Jill were the lead characters, involved in a romantic relationship. Barry, Rebecca, Ada Wong, and Wesker were to also appear. The ending to the film would have been similar to the best ending to the first Resident Evil game. Romero's script was rejected as well.
In 1995, Paul W. S. Anderson's low budget film Mortal Kombat became one of the first commercially successful video game adaptations. After playing Resident Evil, Anderson saw its cinematic potential and wrote a script titled Undead which he described as "a ripoff" of the game. The head of Constantin Film, Bernd Eichinger, was enthusiastic so Anderson developed it into the script for Resident Evil. Anderson explained "What we're trying to do is make a movie that works within the universe of Resident Evil and doesn't contradict it, so you're not just giving the fans the game as a movie, you're giving them a new adventure".
In late 2000, Anderson was announced as director and writer, and Resident Evil re-entered pre-production stages. Anderson stated the film would not include any tie-ins with the video game series as "under-performing movie tie-ins are too common and Resident Evil, of all games, deserved a good celluloid representation".
In early 2001, Michelle Rodriguez, James Purefoy and Milla Jovovich were the first of the cast to be signed on the project. David Boreanaz was intended to portray the male cop lead of Matt Addison; however, he turned down the role to continue work on the WB series Angel. Boreanaz suggested that he was in negotiations to have a smaller role in the film, claiming "Resident Evil is still there, a possibility, So, yeah, I'll see what happens", but he later declined the role. The role of Matt Addison then went to Eric Mabius who was cast in March 2001, along with Heike Makatsch, who was cast as Matt Addison's sister Lisa Addison, an employee working for Umbrella's Hive facility.
In early March 2001, it was announced that half of the film would be shot in Adlershof Studios in Berlin and its surroundings. Principal photography began on March 5, 2001 at numerous locations including the then unfinished station U-Bahnhof Bundestag of the Berlin U-Bahn, Landsberger Allee, Kaserne Krampnitz and the Schloss Linstedt.
The film's score and soundtrack were composed by Clint Mansell, Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson during mid-2001. Manson described the score and soundtrack as being more "electronic" than his other previous work.
The film was originally subtitled as "Resident Evil: Ground Zero" when the movie was considered a prequel to the games, however the subtitle was removed due to the 9/11 attacks. The film's first plot as of March 16, 2001 revealed that Jovovich's Alice and Rodriguez's Rain were the leaders of a commando team sent in to prevent a viral outbreak from spreading to the rest of the world. The character of the Red Queen was added into the film's story as an homage to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
During production, professional dancers were hired to star as zombies as they had better control of their body movements. While computer effects were used on some zombies, much of the undead appearances were accomplished through make-up while their movements were a more laissez-faire approach, as Anderson told the actors to move however they thought a zombie would, given their conditions. Whilst filming, there was a shortage of manpower where the available dancers were not enough to represent the required numbers of undead, however some of Capcom's executives and several of the film producers including Jeremy Bolt agreed to make appearances. The film's stunt coordinator also made an appearance as the dog trainer while Bolt's girlfriend and sister both appeared as zombies.
In March 2001, the official website was set up, which revealed the film's original October 26, 2001 release and a redirect to the film's production company Constantin Film. The website was fully opened in July 2001, and composed of images, plot info, character biographies and downloads. The film was planned to have an R-rated classification which is what Anderson wanted since he knew the film had to be Rated-R in order to capture the horror of the games. In January 2002, the film was officially announced to contain an R rating. According to Fangoria #211, interviews and commentary with Anderson, movie was originally rated NC-17 and he had to make cuts for R rating. It was long rumored, even by Anderson himself, that the uncut version will be released, but it never was.
In May 2001, it was announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment would distribute the film in North America. It was suggested by Capcom executives that the film would not be released in 2001, but rather in 2002, which was later confirmed by Sony in August 2001. The film was set for release on 5 April 2002 before being pushed forward to a 15 March release.
In December 2001, Sony gave fans a chance to design the film's poster with a prize of an undisclosed amount of cash, a free screening of the film, and with the final design being the film's poster. On February 16, 2002, Nick Des Barres, a 23-year-old aspiring actor and ex-video game magazine designer, was announced as the winner of the competition. The film's trailer and clips were released in late January and early February 2002.
The film opened in 2,528 theaters and grossed $17,707,106 on its opening weekend (March 15–17, 2002). The film grossed $40,119,709 domestically and $102,984,862 worldwide.
After commercial success at the box office, a sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) was released. It was followed by Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016). Anderson did not direct the second or third films due to filming commitments with Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Death Race (2008).
The review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 34% based on 124 critics—a weighted average of 4.5 out of 10 with the consensus, "Like other video game adapations, Resident Evil is loud, violent, formulaic, and cheesy." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Robert K. Elder from the Chicago Tribune stated: the film "updates the zombie genre with an anti-corporate message while still scaring its audience and providing heart-pounding action", while Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly noted: the film is as "impersonal in its relentlessness as the video-game series that inspired it".
Both Resident Evil and the sequel appear on Roger Ebert's most hated films list, published in 2005. In his review, Ebert describes Resident Evil as a zombie movie set in the 21st century, where "large metallic objects make crashing noises just by being looked at", and he criticizes the dialogue for being a series of commands and explanations with no "small talk". The New York Times' Stephen Holden awarded Resident Evil 1.5 stars out of 5 saying that "it has a frantic staccato that is more game-oriented than cinematic".
|29th Saturn Awards||Best Horror Film||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Milla Jovovich|
|German Camera Award||Best Editing-Feature Film||Alexander Berner|
|2004 Golden Trailer Awards||Most Original||Ignition Creative|
Various elements are borrowed from numerous video games including Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, where Alice's character awakes in Raccoon City Hospital with a viral outbreak occurring in the city. There are several references to characters and organizations such as the Umbrella Corporation, the Nemesis program, the underground train bearing the moniker "Alexi-5000" a reference to Code: Veronica's villain Alexia Ashford (the train is from Resident Evil 2, but in the game it reads "Galaxie-5000" instead of "Alexi-5000") and a police cruiser, from which Alice takes out a shotgun, has a "S.T.A.R.S." logo on the hood. Jason Isaacs appears in the film as an uncredited masked surgeon (which is a reference to William Birkin). The character of Dr. Isaacs (played by Iain Glen) in the film's sequels is based on him.
Other references to the first game include Alice examining the mansion by going outside; crows are visible for a moment. Crows are minor enemies that the player encounters throughout each game. Alice finds a picture of her wedding day with Spence, which is the same style as the photos in the first version of the Resident Evil game: in black and white with the foreground image noticeably spliced onto the background. On the newspaper at the end of the film, the words "Horror in Raccoon City! More Victims Dead!" are shown in the upper right corner. This is a reference to the same newspaper in the censored opening of the first Resident Evil game and the prologue chapter for the Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy novel. Near the beginning of the film, Alice examines a statue after the wind blows its cover off. This statue is similar in design to one in the mansion of the first game.
When returning to the Red Queen's chamber, Kaplan points out that the four bodies of the group's dead crew from the Glass Hallway Trap sequence are gone. This is a reference to the games, where the bodies of enemies disappear. When the survivors make their escape from the Hive with a countdown as they fight the final boss, this is a reference to the Resident Evil game which ends with a five-minute countdown, during which the boss must be defeated.
A faux newspaper created by Screen Gems for Apocalypse, The Raccoon City Times, indicates hours after the initial outbreak when creatures began appearing in the Arklay Mountains feasting on victims. This is similar to the opening of the first video game.
Anderson has stated that the film's camera angles and several shots allude to the video game's camera angles, such as the fight between Alice and the security guard. These include a scene near the beginning where there is a close up of Alice's eye. This is a direct reference to the title screen of the first game. In another scene, Alice awakes and hears a creepy sound, which is a reference to the plot of the first game.
Resident Evil was released on VHS and DVD on July 30, 2002 in the United States, April 14, 2003 in the United Kingdom and October 2002 in Australia. It was a special edition release, with a number of documentaries including five featurettes, one of which explained the making of Resident Evil, the film's score composition, costume design, set design, zombie make up tests, and the music video for a remixed version of "My Plague" by Slipknot.
A Deluxe Edition was released on September 7, 2004, which included new special features such as an alternate ending with director Anderson's video introduction, a clip compilation for Apocalypse, From Game to Screen featurette, a storyboarding Resident Evil featurette, and 6 other exclusive featurettes: The Creature, The Elevator, The Train, The Laser, Zombie Dogs and Zombies.