I’ve long been a fan of certain horror genre movies and games; as far as games, Silent Hill and Resident Evil stand out for me, though I stopped playing both years ago. But then I started watching movies based on those two games and, to be frank, I liked them—up to a certain point. Like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser movies, the idea of coexisting with a dimension that could grab you at any time gave me a chill, a frisson if you will. The ending of the first Silent Hill movie was so sad and scary; and the idea that the Cenobites could get you and make you love pain was… indescribably scary. And Resident Evil’s T-virus, airborne, that could cross species barriers, well—like in the Walking Dead, these guys could get you with a bite or scratch.
Being scared is such fun, don’t you think?
The first few Resident Evil movies, though they diverged a lot from the game, starred Milla Jovovich (with Michelle Rodriguez in several) who, when she was younger, was to me quite attractive—and she liked getting naked in movies, which was a plus for the guys. Besides that, she was as good an actor as the role needed (which doesn’t mean Academy Award good, but pretty good nonetheless). If you listen to the commentary on the first movie’s extras, you’ll hear Milla and Michelle having fun as only two young women can with their roles in the movie. Plus the visuals were excellent. (One comment about these movies—how freakin’ long does it take for someone to learn that only a headshot will kill most zombies? Sheesh!)
The movies (and game?) are apparently known as Biohazard movies as well (Figure 2), though I think I missed both game and movie(s). At any rate, I think the live-action ones got quite inventive at times, though one of them stole from Silent Hill—until they jumped the shark. (Not literally until this one.) I mean, they went several movies past where they made any sense at all, though poor Milla did the best she could with what she had. She moved on to other genre movies with Hellboy (not as good as the Ron Perlman ones) and Monster Hunter (with Tony Jaa as costar). But the animated movies (doing a little research, it seems I’ve missed a Netflix mini-series), of which I’ve seen a bunch, appear to be more linked to the game than the live-action movies.
Characters from the game appear in RE: Death Island; for example Leon S. Kennedy (he’s the one with the hair always falling across his face), Jill Valentine (they both appeared in the first RE movie—I think—after a few years, all the live-action movies tended to blur together). Also Chris Redfield and his sister Claire, and S.T.A.R.S.* Bravo Team survivor Rebecca Chambers. Albert Wesker, though he hung on through most of the movies, does not appear in this movie as far as I know.
*Special Tactics And Rescue Squad. This group, comprising Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine (can’t remember if Claire was part), and others, was involved in the Raccoon City disaster. In the movies, it spread to the whole world, in the games, not so much. Leon was not part of S.T.A.R.S., and Claire, I think, now works for an eco-friendly group called SaveEarth (which appears kinda militant). And before I go too far into this, I should mention S.D. (Stephanie) Perry’s tie-in and original paperbacks, of which I have two, I discovered. The ones I have are more or less sequels, taking place after the Raccoon City disaster (see the first movie for details). Pretty well written, and you get to know the characters fairly well.
A comment on the graphics. Though they’ve long since mastered light, shadow, fog, textures (including skin) and materials, the 3D animation still has a tendency to look rather Poser-ish at times. That does tend to take one out of the scene a bit, because the human eye is very good at seeing what is almost human. The hair, too,tends to be a bit off, moving in bunches where real hair wouldn’t—but that might be because it would take some very intensive computer time to render it perfectly. There’s also a bit of incorrect field of view, where the focus is too perfect on near or far objects. But those are, for me, minor quibbles. We’ve come amazingly far in our ability to make and animate realistic people, animals (and monsters!) and scenes.
The story is simple: the S.T.A.R.S. (well, ex-S.T.A.R.S., possibly; I wasn’t paying that much attention), along with Leon (working for a different group) and Rebecca, have to go find out what’s making fishermen disappear. Turns out (surprise!) there’s a biologist (an insane one, obviously) making monsters and zombies in the San Franciso area, near the Farallon Islands (been there many times while in the Navy). They ultimately find out they need to go to Alcatraz, which is now deserted. (Well, except for the bad guy/guys and the monsters.) Oh, and about jumping the shark? Well, it’s kind of a giant mutated whale/shark thingy with, er, tentacles.
Fairly standard action, some amusing parts, good voice acting. I think The B&T Lynne, who’s not a fan of the horror genre, enjoyed it too. It’s a Japanese production, with typical Japanese attention to detail; I recommend it especially for those who have played the game, though if you haven’t that’s not a stopper. Give it a shot!
I’d appreciate any comments, if you’d care to leave one. You can comment here or on Facebook, or even by email (stevefah at hotmail dot com). All comments are welcome, as long as you’re polite. My opinion is, as always, my own, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories or its owner, editor, publisher or other columnists. See you next time!