PictureThis film has an anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is a clear and vibrant transfer. The whole film has a high-tech sheen that gives the on-screen action a great deal of clarity. The film is set at night but the darker scenes have no intrusive grain or artifacting. The movie is made up mainly of blue and grey tones but when you see primary colours onscreen they come out bright and rich. Black levels are good, with just the right amount of detail in the shadows giving the right atmosphere for a movie of this type. There's little evidence of edge enhancement or noise throughout and this is one transfer that has no serious problems to report. Top quality!
SoundOn the audio front everything is also excellent. This disc features a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation (one in English and one in Japanese) as well as DTS. The Dolby and DTS mixes are all first class. The use of the surrounds and subwoofer during the various action sequences almost makes up for the clumsy way in which they are shot. The rear speakers are used to carry the musical score, which has a heavy, techno-flavoured intensity that permeates the whole film. They also get extensive use during the many, many firefights. The whole film is a very immersive audio experience with fantastic use of panning between speakers - helicopters were made for this! The dialogue remains distinct despite competition from the explosions and gunfire. There are no problems at all with distortion and this is simply a great audio presentation.
ExtrasOn both discs the menus are in Japanese so it takes a bit of trial and error to reach the feature you want (unless you can read Japanese, of course.) Once you get used to navigating it, you find the actual features are in English with Japanese subtitles that you can switch off. There's certainly no end of extras. No less than three commentaries are on the first disc. The first is by director Alexander Witt, producer Jeremy Bolt and executive producer Robert Kulzer and is informative without being too dry; the second is by the actors Jovovich, Fehr and Guillory and is good fun, although Guillory was obviously recorded separately and spliced in rather ineptly. The third is by the writer Paul WS Anderson and the producer Jeremy Bolt, and it touches upon a lot that was covered in the first commentary but is still entertaining. Some trailers for upcoming releases and a promo for the latest video game finish off the disc in a good manner. The second disc is devoted to more extras and contains no end of of features about the film. If only all films were lavished this way. There's an extensive making off documentary split into six parts which covers practically everything you would want to know about the film. One of the features explains how they choreographed the extras and taught them how to walk like a zombie. Yep, a zombie school! Shame all that was wasted in the film as the cutting and photography doesn't let you see anything. What's staggering about these featurettes is how seriously everyone took what they were doing, especially the actors, and how much effort was put in. How sad, that was the absolute best they could do and this cheesy pile of pants was the result. And while watching an interview with the executive producer I almost spluttered my coffee all over the screen when he announced, with no hint of irony, that the first Resident Evil was an example of 'guerilla' filmmaking. Yeah, right. Next he'll be telling us it was a Dogme film shot on DV for a couple of grand. There's a few other watchable mini features about women in action films, special effects, video games, and the real world similarities of the fictional corporation in the film. There's several deleted scenes but nothing stands out as essential viewing, and their removal probably helped the pacing of the film. A hit and miss series of outtakes and a poster gallery rounds everything off. A nice package.
VerdictIt's a mediocre film, and contains no shocks or real thrills, but it does have plenty of action and at least the budget looks as if it is all up onscreen rather than in a big shot actor's pocket. A film like this has a built in fanbase so will fly off the shelves, and this 2-disc deluxe package is certainly substantial enough for any serious fans. As a Japanese import it'll be pricy though.
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