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Archive for May 24th, 2010

There is a certain school of thought that suggests movies based on video games should be considered similar to those based on comic books, this is a misconception. Comic books are often made up of complex storylines that are developed over months or even years. The characters usually have complete back stories that if the publication lasts long enough will be revealed an “origin” story (only to be rewritten by someone else a few years later). Video games on the other hand are made up of a premise that only needs to be complex or expansive enough to explain the action. That is probably why there are so many great (yes I did say great) comic book movies (The Dark Knight and X-Men 2 to name just two) but no great video game movies. There is one game based movie that actually does work because of its origin rather than despite it. Universally slated on its release the critics were right, it is a poor film but not without merit and charm. I will confess at this point that I don’t own a games console (and never have) so I am far from an expert on them and can’t say how the games and movies compare.

To disguise a break in at an underground facility the thief releases a deadly virus. In response the buildings computer initiates a lockdown. A team of commando’s enters the facility, on the way the pick up three people including Alice (Milla Jovovich) a security operative suffering from amnesia. In the facility known as the hive they find more than the bargained for. As memories return the story unfolds.

Characters in the movie including the leader of the commando group (Colin Salmon) provide explanations regarding what has happened, what will happen, what they need to do and the environment and characters around them, this is very much like the instructions given between levels in a game. Once a goal has been achieved the scenes end abruptly and the movie jumps to the next set piece, again like the levels of a game. The music often appears to be on a loop that lulls and rises with the action both in pace and volume, it also incorporates sound effects to go with the action. All this is tied up with the most game like device, it is against the clock.

Although purists will argue that they aren’t zombies the film does offer a pretty good example of the genre with the small group of characters slowly being overrun by the vast numbers of the mindless walking dead, and killer zombie dogs what a great idea. It is when the zombie attack begins that the action kicks in and it is well handled. Using a combination of running through corridors, choreographed fights and lots of shooting the action is mixed up nicely. Stringing all this together is a thin but workable plot with a few twists and turns but no real surprises.

As previously mentioned the movie is flawed, the dialogue is bad, very bad, the acting isn’t much better. The eerie opening is soon forgotten where it could have been used throughout the movie. It lacks the necessary horror and gore of a zombie movie but that could have given it a box-office destroying certificate. Basically, not a great movie but a better one than you may think.

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