Resident Evil Blu-ray Review
PictureThe first Resident Evil instalment comes kicking and biting to Blu-ray with a superior 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The detail level is consistently good throughout the film, with sharpness also top notch, and even a bit of 3D quality. There is little unintentional grain, noticeable during the few moments of head-mounted digital video footage during the fights, or during one or two of the desaturated sequences, but this appears to be the desired effect (there are a couple of moments when the power is first restarted but this is easily forgiveable). There is also no noticeable edge enhancement or digital artefacting. The quality is pretty amazing good, never betraying the fact that the movie is now seven years old, nor the fact that it was made on a relatively low budget. The colour range is fairly wide, with plenty of clinical lab-based sequences, and the whites are bright and almost blinding, whilst the blacks are deep and dark and solid, indicating decent contrast and allowing for some nice shadowing.
SoundTo accompany the movie we get a Dolby TrueHD track that sounds excellent. The dialogue - from the initial screams to the tactical orders and zombie moans - all comes across well, clearly and coherently, predominantly from across the fronts and centre channels. Effects are also presented excellently, the affair fully dynamic, with helicopters whizzing around, birds scattering, and - of course - those ever important gunfights, where bullets thunder around your living room. The score is probably the most distinctive element, a superb effort from none other than Marilyn Manson (with a brief contribution from the ever-excellent Nine Inch Nails), who pulls out all the stops to give you a suitably disturbing and unpredictable accompaniment for this tense zombie actioner. Bass comes into play for shock value and during the louder confrontations, and overall it is a superior track for this movie.
ExtrasResident Evil originally had two DVD releases, the first with several extras and then a polished up Deluxe Edition with even more, so it is quite nice to have all of the extras ported over here, even if we don't get anything new. First up there's an Audio Commentary by the Cast and Crew, with Director Paul W.S. Anderson, Producer Jeremy Bolt and Actor Jason Isaacs paired up with Actresses Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez, both of whom appear to be drunk and - at times - even a little obnoxious. It's an odd track, with Jovovich particularly loud and often irritating, which will probably come as a bit of a shock to those who adore her. Still, the end result is sometimes amusing and at the very least honest, with the Director and Producer trying to keep a handle on things while the girls run a little wild. The second track is a Visual Effects Commentary by the Director and the Visual Effects Supervisor, Richard Yuricich. It is a much more dry - and sober - affair, but that comes as something of a relief after the other debacle, as at least you are likely to learn a thing or two about the production.
There are no less than 12 Featurettes, varying in length and content. Playing Dead: Resident Evil from Game to Screen is a quarter of an hour long and looks at the origins of the franchise - in its game form - with the Director on hand to talk about his ideas for where to take the story (ostensibly a prequel, in his eyes, to the games), also making reference to his previous experience at a game adaptation, Mortal Kombat. The Making of Resident Evil is nearly half an hour, but a lot more promotional, with plenty of unnecessary plot and character discussion and simply nothing that you would not already know from having seen the movie. Still it's probably worth persisting because the Featurette eventually evolves into something better, with a look at the gun and fight training and effects done for the production.
Scoring Resident Evil is split between the two collaborators Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson and has them both contribute comments about their work on the score and how they hoped to - and succeeded in - enhancing the story and visuals, and even the tension. Storyboarding Resident Evil has the Director dissecting a few key scenes with the use of storyboards. The remaining Featurettes are all fairly self-explanatory in name and last but a few minutes (some little over 60 seconds) - Costumes, Set Design, and then key scenes/concepts: The Creature, The Elevator, The Laser, The Train, Zombie Dogs and Zombies, all looking at the various miniatures, models, CGI and so forth used to bring the ideas to life.
The Alternate Ending comes complete with a Video Introduction from the Director himself, and is certainly worth checking out. Sure, it would not have really fit the theme of the movie, even if they had completed all of the effects shots for it, but it still gives you an idea of where they wanted to go with the subsequent more action-orientated affairs. It effectively replaces the post-climax coda, seeing Milla's Alice returning to Umbrella to unleash her wrath.
We also get the “My Plague” Music Video by Slipknot - which I did not like when compared with Manson's effective score, as well as Previews for the classic Close Encounters, the stylish but shallow 30 days of Night, the convoluted The Company, the action packed second Resident Evil sequel - Extinction, Dragon Wars, the style with no substance Ultraviolet, the decent first Underworld instalment and the lame werewolf movie Blood and Chocolate.
It's worth noting that this Blu-ray release does come complete with that weird gimmick that allows you to select and watch the extras all in one go. It's not exactly much of a step up from the old function that allows you to bookmark chapters and it's a little pointless really.
VerdictAn underdressed kick-ass Milla Jovovich, zombies, a disposable tactical unit and plenty of blood all combine to make this an interesting, fairly low-budget (not that you'd notice) zombie take on Aliens. Although it may not be everybody's cup of tea, I personally thoroughly enjoyed this stylish, atmospheric zombie flick. It is sometimes little more than a guilty pleasure, but has enough surprises, novel set-pieces and tense, action-packed moments to keep you entertained throughout. On Blu-ray, we get decent video, superior audio, and the extras from the previous DVD incarnations ported over here in their entirety. Overall it's a superb package and will come as a must-have for fans. If you're new to the whole Resident Evil thing - if that's even possible - then this is where it all began. Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.97
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