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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Science Fiction > Action > Zombies > Resident Evil (Blu-ray) + Resident Evil: Extinction (Blu-ray + DVD-Video)

Resident Evil (Blu-ray) + Resident Evil: Extinction (Blu-ray + DVD-Video)


Picture: B/B/B-     Sound: B/A-/B-     Extras: C-      Films: C-/C



Originally set up for George Romero to direct, the videogame Resident Evil remains popular and one of the most recognized names in the business (including under the name Biohazard, its alternate name) and considering it is about zombies that seemed like a great match.  But the producers wanted a commercial film and Romero wanted to do another one of his zombie films.  He moved on to do more sequels to his classic Night Of The Living Dead and Paul W.S. Anderson (Event Horizon, Soldier) took over the series, resulting in the desired hit.


While Romero is on four zombie films, this series has three of them and Sony has issued them all in their new Blu-ray format with the expected results: degraded videogame-like picture as see in theaters and overly-punchy sound now more dated and punch than ever.


The twist here is that the evil Umbrella Corporation has brainwashed the human race as much as possible while toxins they helped to make poison people turning them into half-living beings.  Milla Jovovich plays Alice, an ironic name as the “matrix” of falsely generated images are those she must battle against, taking on both the robo-corporations and their unwilling populace of victims whose lives they could care less they ruin.


This always involves action and layers of special effects, often digital and often tired, but the first film from 2002 instantly loses the edge and interesting quirks Anderson brought to his previous forays into the genre.  Michelle Rodriguez and Eric Mabius are not bad, while the film is about to gain new interest as co-star James Purefoy becomes the new Simon Templar in a British TV revival of The Saint that hopes to wash away the unfortunate U.S. film version with a highly miscast Val Kilmer in the title role.


We’ll get to the second Blu-ray whenever we get it, but know that all three films are in a trilogy and apparently sold separately.


The third film arrived with limited fanfare in 2007 under the title Resident Evil: Extinction, but even Anderson knew when to quit and though he was a producer, he turned the film over to director Russell Mulcahy and the result is the most interesting film in the series by default.  Mulcahy had not directed a major Hollywood film since The Shadow in 1994, though he had done many B-movies since and besides being one of the most important of all Music Video directors, is still in the mind of genre fandom with the original Highlander.


Ashanti showing up would usually be a bad sign after all the junk she signed on for over the years while trying to stretch from her day job as a viable singer, but the biggest problem here is that anything this franchise had to offer is played out and/or outclassed by similar fare.  While Romero’s fourth zombie fest Land Of The Dead (reviewed elsewhere on this site in HD-DVD) was a mixed affair, at least it was ambitiously attempting to be about something.


The biological idea for this trilogy and the videogame really are from the 1971 classic Omega Man (also reviewed elsewhere on this site in HD-DVD and available in Blu-ray) where a biological war turns the population dead or into zombies.  Unfortunately for this trilogy, that Charlton Heston film has just been remade with Will Smith as the huge blockbuster I Am Legend, the third official incarnation of that book despite leaning on Omega Man’s screenplay heavily.  Sure, that was more commercial and takes several illogical turns, so you could say these films are more realistic and have more edge.


Besides that being ludicrous, 28 Weeks Later (also 2007, reviewed elsewhere on this site in Blu-ray) was far more realistic, graphic, intense and the true successor to the Romero legacy.  Only the second film in that franchise, these films should have been what that series has turned out to be so far.  Instead, they are barely above the awful remakes of the Romero films that keep getting made.  To her credit, Jovovich is better here than in the previous films and has grown into the role despite almost spending her credibility in the same role with the dreadful Ultraviolet.



The 1080p digital High Definition image has two different aspect ratios.  Like the Back To The Future films, the first is 1.85 X 1, while the sequels are Super 35mm shot 2.35 X 1 productions, though all the films in this series have too many degraded images and digital effects that date immediately as they hit the screen.  Needless to say the third has the best CG and is a little more creative with it, but sacrifices non-GC fidelity with its degraded look.  The Third on DVD-Video is not as bad as expected, yet is not as good as the Blu-ray despite its issues.  Unlike the second film, the first and third happen to share the same cinematographer, Director of Photography David Johnson, B.S.C.  He lensed the first Alien Vs. Predator (reviewed elsewhere on this site on Blu-ray) and can produce an interesting, distinct genre look.  Too bad the films he keeps shooting have limited scripts.


These discs have Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks that outdo the Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes easily (also included) as well as the 5.1 Dolby on the DVD of the third film, but all the mixes are too showy, flashy, screwy and though not as boring as the usually tired 5.1 mixes we get in the genre these days, simply cannot compete with the best such mixes in or out of the genres these films embody.  The Marco Beltrami/Marilyn Manson score for the first film never worked that well, while Charlie Clouser’s score for the third is not bad, but nothing groundbreaking.


Extras on both releases include Blu-Wizard 2.0 function to allow better control of the viewing, a bunch of featurettes for each (12 on the first, 4 on the second) and audio commentaries with Anderson and company on both.  Mulcahy and Producer Jeremy Bolt join him on the third for the most interesting of the two.  The first film also offers an alternate ending with Anderson’s video introduction, visual effects commentary and Rock band Slipknot singing “My Plague” in Music Video form.  The third adds deleted scenes, a sneak peak of the feature length video game prequel and Blu-wizard adding a picture-in-picture feature Under The Umbrella, but your machine has to be capable and updated to activate it.


That will keep fans pleased, especially those of Blu-ray if they have a PS3.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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