Strolled down the Champs-Elysee? Sipped Bellinis on the Piazza San Marco? Well, you haven't really lived till you've seen a mini-skirted Milla Jovovich kick-box the living daylights out of a pack of rabid dogs slathered in barbecue sauce.
Technically speaking, the dogs aren't alive. They are among the walking undead who roam the underbelly of Raccoon City in search of human flesh. There are hundreds of them, undead dogs and undead people, popping out from dark corners all over the place. We're talking a major shipment of barbecue sauce.
Makeup artists, 14-year-old boys and camp aficionados live for moments like this. And there are a ton of them in "Resident Evil," a ditsy and dizzying spook-house thriller in high-tech, high-hemline gear. Along with Jovovich, it features Michelle Rodriguez, a tough-talking, attitude-throwing veteran of "The Fast and the Furious" who is working overtime for the title of the 21st century's first true B-movie queen.
Direct from that new Great White Way for culturally bereft Hollywood producers, best-selling computer games, "Resident Evil" is easily as mindless as last year's drag-racing sleeper and at least as much guilt-ridden fun.
Much of it takes place in the steel-and-glass subterranean catacombs of the Umbrella Corp., a mega-scientific conglomerate doing secret, illegal viral and genetic research. To judge from its fabulous employees, none of whom look old enough to pass as a convincing authority figure without a machine gun in hand, the Umbrella Corp. is organized by the same human resources department that staffs Ian Shrager's hotels.
When most of them are wiped out by an artificial intelligence hissy-fit, a squad of suitably sexy in-house cops led by Jovovich, Rodriguez, Eric Mabius and Martin Crewes attempts an escape. There are nasty obstacles at every turn--this was a computer game, after all--and people die fantastically graphic deaths that may make the older members of the audience faintly nostalgic for the primitive innocence of Pac-Man.
There is a lot of loud, sullen grunge rock on the soundtrack and a nihilistic open-ended climax to ensure Jovovich's future employment. Co-star Mabius has enough Albee, Beckett and Chekhov on his resume to ensure his as well. There may not be life after Raccoon City, but there will always be regional theater.
MPAA rating: R, for strong sci-fi/horror violence, language and brief sexuality/nudity. Times guidelines: The film is too violent for children.
Jan Stuart is a film critic for Newsday, a Tribune company.
Screen Gems, Constantin Films and Davis Films present a Constantin Film / New Legacy Film / Davis Film production, in association with Impact Pictures, distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. Director Paul W.S. Anderson. Producer Bernd Eichinger, Samuel Hadida, Jeremy Bolt, Paul W.S. Anderson. Screenplay by Paul W.S. Anderson; story by Alan McElroy, Paul W.S. Anderson. Cinematographer David Johnson. Editor Alexander Berner. Production and costume designer Richard Bridgland. Music Marco Beltrami, Marilyn Manson. Art director Jorg Baumgarten. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.
In general release.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times