Review: Resident Evil (2002)

You’ve never heard of zombies, and you can’t figure it out by seeing them in action? You’ve lost me.

I can suspend disbelief for a wide range of stories, but i’m lost once i’m asked to believe the characters in a zombie movie have never seen or even heard of a zombie movie. Ok, so perhaps in their universe there are no such movies, but then my ability to relate to them as humans becomes infinitely more difficult. I’ve seen more zombie comedies/spoofs than straight-up zombie films, and i know more about zombie conventions than these characters do. So i don’t feel particularly sympathetic toward these fools when, by the time the movie’s reached its halfway point and they still haven’t figured anything out, it takes Exposition Hologram Kid to explain it to them (and, ostensibly, to us).

There’s entirely too much dialogue in this film anyway – and the details in the exposition aren’t interesting or unique enough in content or delivery to justify most of it. The film makers don’t trust the audience, or themselves, enough to just extrapolate the backstory from what we can see, enough to make sense of the world just through action and art direction, enough to just show shit. And for a movie that takes so much from Aliens, how does it not take that lesson from Alien? “Random group of strangers in a mysterious, technologically advanced compound” – that’s really all we need to know to roll with whatever happens next. In fact: yr key players have amnesia, so we can learn with them, by watching. Instead, Exposition Hologram Kid narrates everything in show-and-tell that we’ve already seen… in, once again, Alien.

Science fiction fantasy films have a unique opportunity that other genres perhaps do not: audiences bring a knowledge and understanding of genre, tropes, and complex ideas with them, and are happy to see that knowledge capitalised on. So in these movies, exposition means the film makers have missed that opportunity. Exposition, particularly in science fiction fantasy, is the telltale sign of inferior storytelling and/or world-building. These genres aren’t new, and often neither are the ideas in newer stories – so if the story yr telling is familiar, cash in on that familiarity! Go somewhere else with it, either in content or execution. Who has time for B-grade regurgitation?

… well. I only found out after watching the movie that it’s based on a computer game. And they made a bazillion of these things. So hey, what do I know?