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RESIDENT EVIL: GENESIS test screening review!

Harry here... Given I just subjected myself willingly and at my own expense to THE IMPOSTOR and managed to come out the other end with mild bruises and concussions, I imagine I can survive the next thing that Paul Anderson throws at me. Though I prefer my Zombie action with some meat and guts and gray matter splatter, I suppose in a sanitized world where you can only get your gore in a War film paying tribute to the men dying to protect the United States... because if the exact same gore appears with Zombies or Monsters... well it is unfit for mass consumption as that's just too graphic.... friggin bastards... Well, here ya go...


Saw a test screening of RESIDENT EVIL: GENESIS a few weeks ago and felt compelled to let you and my fellow geeks know what's up, especially after reading Anderson's "NC-17 cut" comments on your site.

I went to the AMC Burbank at 1st and Palm to check it out. Now, here's where I stand on Paul Anderson's work. I think the dude has style and knows how to shoot a pretty picture, but his work is very derivative. I don't harbor any hatred for him or consider him to be the Cinematic Anti-Christ like many others like to either. I only hold SOLDIER against him. I sorta felt the same way about Antoine Fuqua until he kicked ass with TRAINING DAY. I'm still waiting on Anderson to do the same.

So I get there kinda late and pass by Anderson (tall, lanky, young English dude wearing all black), standing in the aisle and talking to who I assume are producers/studio execs. Seems like a very nice guy. Kind of hard to picture him as the same guy who inflicted SOLDIER on us with glee. The crowd was very rowdy and hyped for the movie, 17-25, mostly male. One of the test screening employees told the crowd to stop making loud outbursts. She sounded like she'd give us detention or something if we kept it up. When the lights went down, everyone went ape-shit. Yells and laughs, one person asked out loud "Is this movie scary?" and someone else screamed "EVENT HORIZON!". They were primed for this movie. I tell you this so you can get an idea of what kind of room RESIDENT EVIL: GENESIS was playing to.

So the movie starts and the first thing I notice is that it's shot in 1:85.1 widescreen, like SHOPPING and MORTAL KOMBAT. I was expecting 2:35.1 anamorphic like his last two. I won't spoil the entire movie, but here's the opening ten minutes. There's the opening info crawl (w/ voiceover) about the Umbrella Corporation. Then we are taken inside an Umbrella Corp. facility, where at one lab someone (who we can't see from his biohazard suit) takes a small vial with a blue liquid and tosses it to the ground on purpose. It smashes open and the unknown individual takes off. After that, a Hal-9000 type of computer called the Red Queen (in control of entire building) traps everyone else inside (about 500 people, we're told) and kills them off using different methods: deadly gas, drowning, falling elevators. One unlucky woman tries to crawl out between the elevator doors and gets stuck. Red Queen takes control and brings the elevator down towards the floor and right when we're about to see her get the guillotine treatment we cut to black. Next we're treated to the sight of a slightly nude Milla Jovovich passed out on a shower floor. She wakes up, realizes she's in some creepy mansion and doesn't know how she got there. She gets dressed (in a red dress placed on a bed for her) and does some snooping around until she runs into a plainsclothes police officer. Just when they're barely getting to know each other, a group of military-commando types break in and detain the both of them. From there, they get into a train (located below the mansion!) that takes them straight to "the Hive", an underground research facility. It's the same location from the first scene, and they want to know what went down in there.

There you go. The rest of the movie plays like the Romero DEAD trilogy starring the Marines from ALIENS. You've got the black leader (only he's bald and doesn't smoke a cigar), Vasquez, only here she's called Rain and she's played by Michelle Rodriguez, the Bill Paxton "Game over, man!" we're-all-gonna-die character, etc. It was rare to find a scene that wasn't inspired by another movie. A death scene from CUBE here, a don't-let-me-become-one-of-them speech from DOTD there. We're talking outright theft. But despite being incredibly derivative, it's works. As a fast-paced action-packed zombie movie, it gets the job done. I found it entertaining for the most part, if not entirely original. You see the worst case scenario for me was sitting through THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING, similar in it's homage/ripping off of other movies, except I found it incredibly dull. Anyway, as far as the characters go, Jovovich and especially Rodriguez are good. Someone had posted somewhere about whether or not the chicks were hot. Hell, yeah! Jovovich carrying a automatic weapon, wearing a red dress and black combat boots was quite a sight to behold. Late in the film, there appeared to be a little bit of a bare crotch shot that'll have some DVD owners go crazy with the still frame on the remote. Rodriguez had that Linda Hamilton in T2/Angelina Jolie in TOMB RAIDER thing going on. There are elements of the game in here: zombies, zombie dogs, the Licker, T-virus, Raccoon City and the aforementioned Umbrella Corp. The ending ties in nicely to the games. The only thing that bothered me was while it was obviously a violent movie (they said they were going for an R-rating), it wasn't as gory as I expected, especially since this was a workprint that I assume hasn't gone through MPAA screenings yet. There's decapitations, flesh-munching, head shots, and bullet wounds galore--but it's rather bloodless and/or left to the imagination. One guy gets surrounded by zombies and they begin to feed on him, but we cut away before any actual damage is shown. The gun wounds are mostly just dark bullet holes with no blood. The decapitation is pretty clean. The head shots are only small red dots, no brains or blood to be seen. When someone is attacked by the Licker, we cut away to the reaction of the others, then we cut back to the victim already dead laying in a pool of blood. The games are bloodier. Don't get me wrong, there IS blood. On a sort of related note, there's a very nice scene where Rodriguez is sitting in a safe elevated position above what seems like hundreds of zombies. Her hand is bleeding. She amuses herself by sticking her hand out above them and taunting them by squeezing drops of blood onto them and watching as they work themselves in a frenzy trying to get a taste. I don't see how the MPAA could deny this movie an R because it's not really pushing it. I've seen far worse. I find it very interesting to read on your site that Anderson claims to have an NC-17 cut of the movie at the time and that they're going for a "hard R". Either more gore has been added since the screening I went to, or he must consider movies like AMELIE as worthy of a "hard R". Wait, I forgot about the glimpse of Jovovich's nether regions near the end. Maybe that's what he meant.

The music was a mixture of techno-ish/electronica/metal/Marilyn Manson type of stuff that wasn't bad. I'm not sure if it was a temp track, although at one point they played a track from RUN LOLA RUN that didn't seem out of place with the rest of the music, if you want an idea of how it sounded. A while back on this site people were worried about this movie featuring some Matrix/Crouching Tiger style stuff. Well, it's not really like that and I doubt that it's wire-fu. It's just a couple instances (in the same scene) where Jovovich delivers a jump kick and the movie goes into slow-mo for it. They overused the same technique in THE MUMMY RETURNS. But no bullet time or wire work seemed to be in use. Not much CG used either, so Anderson was telling the truth about that.

It's funny that the producers dropped Romero and went with Anderson instead, since the movie plays very much like a Romero homage. Most of the audience seemed to have fun with it. I did. Didn't think it was great, just a fun, entertaining action/horror flick. Derivative as hell, but fun nonetheless. I don't know what kind of changes/additions/deletions are to be made, and while I don't think this will be the movie to convert the legions of Anderson haters, I would say the movie I saw that day worked and would be worthy of a matinee ticket or video rental.

Terry Tsuguri

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