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HTF REVIEW: Resident Evil: Deluxe Edition



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#1 of 36 OFFLINE   Nestor_Ramos

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Posted September 07 2004 - 07:25 PM

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Resident Evil: Deluxe Edition


Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Year: 2002
Rated: R
Film Length: 101 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio: DD 5.1
Color/B&W: color
Languages: English, French, Portugese
Subtitles: English, French, Portugese, Spanish
MSRP: $19.94
Release Date: September 7


The Feature
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Movies based on video games have a mostly deserved reputation for being brainless and deafening, and director Paul W.S. Anderson (not to be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson, director of “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights,” among others) is the unquestioned maestro of this dubious art form. Anderson directed both “Mortal Kombat,” a box office success and critical disaster, and “Alien Vs. Predator,” unseen by me.

Resident evil is a step up from “Mortal Kombat,” to be certain. It’s actually far closer in tone and subject matter to another Anderson film, “Event Horizon,” the 1997 “Solaris” (Tarkovsky, not Soderbergh) knockoff that has to be one of the most unpleasant cinematic experiences of my life. I like a good scare as much as the next guy, but I don’t need a tired plot and a few deeply, deeply disturbing images to haunt my every waking hour for weeks.

Where was I? Oh, right, “Resident Evil.” True to form, ‘RE’ is mostly baffling and noisy, but it’s not without its charms. Unlike his work in “Event Horizon,” Anderson here seems willing to find the limit to the horrors herein, and just put a toe across the line, instead of leaping over it and shaking a chainsaw at you.

Also, and this is certainly one of the film’s most endearing qualities, it’s extremely well shot. Great attention is paid to composition, and if a few of the action sequences dissolves into a tangle of arms and legs, that’s par for the course.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around an expedition into a subterranean research facility (the Hive) cum mass grave. Milla Jovovich, coming dangerously close to reprising her role in “The Fifth Element,” seems to have an intense connection with the place, but is suffering from acute memory loss (ha!). Getting into the Hive, as it turns out, is the easy part. Getting out? Not so much.

Though I’m only vaguely familiar with the video game, I can tell you that this film is presented as a prequel to the original Resident Evil game. Whereas “Mortal Kombat” had essentially no storyline – a fighting tournament between weird muscle-bound guys is about as bare-bones as you can get – the Resident Evil games provide ample source material for a film (or, as it turns out, a series of films). Hardcore fans of the games will get a great deal more out of this than newcomers, but because it’s a prequel, the learning curve isn’t too steep.

Video
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Aside from a few dark scenes that lack in shadow detail – and only a very few – this is a nearly flawless transfer. I was expecting more compression artifacts because of the sheer amount of material on the disc, but was pleasantly surprised. The quality of the transfer stands out in sharpness – look for the extreme close-ups of Jovovich’s eye at the beginning and end of the film. Stunning.

Audio
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The surround field is suitably three dimensional for most of the film, though a bit more in the LFE channel would’ve been appreciated. Great attention is paid to the score – a score I found to be one of the most unpleasant in recent memory, and painfully bad in comparison to Philip Glass’s score for Candyman, which I recently reviewed. Also, at one crucial scene, the dialogue becomes almost unintelligibly soft. You’ll know it when you get there.


Special Features
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All features are 4:3 and stereo

The Alternate Ending, a major selling point on the disc’s packaging, is a bit of disappointment. I won’t divulge the content of that ending, except to say that Anderson pops in to tell you how cool the special effects shot that would’ve ended the film would’ve been if they’d ever actually shot it.

In the alternate ending a voice over by Jovovich, informs us that it’s now six months later and, having recovered from the events of the film, she is out to find the only other survivor. She walks into the headquarters of the Umbrella Corp in a “new costume,” and then Anderson describes the effects shot that would’ve ended the film. The bit where she emerges to a devastated city is cut entirely. It’s a more “up” ending, says Anderson.


Playing Dead: Resident Evil From Game to Screen interviews Anderson, Jovovich, co-star Michelle Rodriguez and numerous producers, video game nerds and anyone else who happened to be wandering around the Sony studio that day. Anderson, it turns out, has great affection for the video game, and had long dreamed of filming it. Good on ya, P.W.S.A. It includes numerous game clips, intercut with shots from the film. It also contains this gem, from a producer comparing “Resident Evil” to other video game movies (apparently, nobody told him this was Anderson’s genre): “It’s not impersonal, like it is in those driving games, where you’re just trashing cars.” I don’t know about you, but I find driving a car somewhat more relatable than shooting a mutant zombie in the head with a shotgun. I guess I’ve led a sheltered life.

Scoring “Resident Evil” interviews Marilyn Manson, who, along with Marco Beltrami, crafted the aforementioned score. Blech.

Story Boarding “Resident Evil” is a fairly typical story board to screen montage. The drawings aren’t particularly well rendered, and the feature seems tacked on.

Costumes (apparently someone got tired of writing real titles for these featurettes) is much cooler than the story boards, and contains both cast and production design interviews and a montage of really excellent drawings and their eventual realized copies.

Set Design interviews the very same production designer (couldn’t these have been one feature?) and discusses the architecture and ideas that went into designing the Hive.

Effects Featurettes Six separate effects projects or sequences get their own short (between two and five minutes) breakdown.

The Resident Evil: Apocalypse Preview gives viewers a peek at the upcoming sequel. FYI: inexplicably, the preview contains more nudity than the entire first film, in case you’re watching with your kids around.

There are two Commentaries, one featuring Anderson, Jovovich, Rodriguez and producer Jeremy Bolt, and the other a special effects crew commentary. The former is of the “put everyone in a room and watch the movie together” variety, which would’ve been fun if I liked the movie as much as they did. Rodriguez is the gem, smart and funny and talking over everyone else – including teasing Jovovich during an early near-nude scene. The effects commentary is about what you’d expect – technical jargon punctuated with “that was cool!”

Filmographies

[b]Theatrical Trailer


[b]Conclusion

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You don’t read Louid L’Amour for nuanced thoughts on the state of Native American relations in the American West, and you don’t pick up movies based on video games for character development and brilliant dialogue. With that in mind, Resident Evil, the film, is an above average action thriller, with enough tension, fright and violence to thoroughly satisfy its target audience. This is spectacular delivery of the film, from the stellar transfer to the voluminous special features. I’m not familiar with the first DVD edition of this film (or the superbit edition), but if you’re a fan who doesn’t own this title, this is a strong buy. To sweeten the pot, the disc comes with a free ticket for the sequel.

#2 of 36 OFFLINE   dan fritzen

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Posted September 08 2004 - 05:19 AM

How about a spoiler tag with the alternate ending please?

I wonder how this transfer compares to the superbit.
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#3 of 36 OFFLINE   Nestor_Ramos

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Posted September 08 2004 - 07:19 AM

Spoiler: Done.

I haven't seen the superbit -- this was my first time seeing this film -- but if it's a better transfer than this, it must be pretty stunning. As I said, I think some lack of shadow detail was my only gripe.


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#4 of 36 OFFLINE   Travis W.

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Posted September 08 2004 - 07:31 AM

Being a huge fan of the RE video game series I always found Anderson's film to be disappointing and seeminly made by someone who was not a fan of the game (as Anderson claims). But the more and more I watch this I begin to seperate the film from the video game timeline. The film is a seperate thing...much like how Super Mario Bros. the film was seperate from the video game...maybe that's too extreme Posted Image .

#5 of 36 OFFLINE   Chad E

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Posted September 08 2004 - 01:45 PM

I thought I remember reading back when the first SE came out that Anderson had said they had filmed a bunch of material for a big uber-edition. Is this that uber-edition? The feautures here only seem to be a minor step up from the previous edition... in fact, another review I read said that a ~30 minute making-of from the first edition was dropped for this one! (You'd think that with an extra disc to play with, they could have fit it in... Posted Image )

Anyway, I don't mind waiting another two years or so for a real uber-edition, but that CA$16.99 price point is really tempting! Does anyone have any info on whether we'll be getting another, better, edition down the road, or is this pretty much it?

Thanks for any info!

#6 of 36 OFFLINE   SteveCallas

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Posted September 08 2004 - 03:58 PM

I remember being one of the few (I guess) who liked this movie when it came out, but man, I bought this deluxe edition and watched it for only the second time tonight and it is MUCH BETTER than I ever remembered!

I could care less about any of the reviews or people who say it doesn't follow the video games, this movie is AWESOME. I have played and beaten almost all of the games and this movie follows them enough for my liking. Don't get me wrong, this isn't one of the best movies I have ever seen, but it stands on its own as a great movie in my book. It had some good old fashion scares in it and the surround sound track is spectacular.

After seeing this for the 2nd time and recently having seen Alien vs Predator, I really don't see why Anderson gets such a bum rap.

#7 of 36 OFFLINE   Matt Butler

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Posted September 09 2004 - 03:27 AM

Ive seen RE once and think its a sweet flick. I am intersted in picking it up but am wondering if I should get this one or the SB.

Are there any comparisons to the Superbit?
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#8 of 36 OFFLINE   Jeff Adams

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Posted September 09 2004 - 04:27 AM

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I remember being one of the few (I guess) who liked this movie when it came out,


I am there with you Steve. I really do not know why people did not like this movie. I thought it was a great horror/action film. Very entertaining and creepy.

Quote:
I could care less about any of the reviews or people who say it doesn't follow the video games, this movie is AWESOME. I have played and beaten almost all of the games and this movie follows them enough for my liking. Don't get me wrong, this isn't one of the best movies I have ever seen, but it stands on its own as a great movie in my book. It had some good old fashion scares in it and the surround sound track is spectacular.


Agree with you again. I don't care at all that it didn't follow the video game. It took parts of the video games and put them into the movie. I have played a lot of the RE video games and did find myself flashing back to parts of the video game during the movie. I thought that was pretty cool.

Great action,very creepy scenes,lots of gore and two very hot women with Michelle Rodriguez and Milla Jovovich looking as good as it gets, whats not to like?

Anyway, as far as the dvd itself goes, how does this transfer and audio compare to the Superbit edition? I have the original and am trying to decide if I want to go Superbit or this new Deluxe Edition.
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#9 of 36 OFFLINE   SteveCallas

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Posted September 09 2004 - 06:32 AM

From all the reviews I have read, the Superbit isn't much of an improvement because the original transfer and DD track are great to begin with. Seeing as I didn't own any versions of this movie up until a few days ago, I was also debating which version to get. I got the deluxe version only because this is one of the FEW times that I was actually interested in the special features and because it came with a free ticket to the sequel.

#10 of 36 OFFLINE   Chad Ferguson

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Posted September 09 2004 - 06:51 AM

I personally remember this film having an amazing soundtrack and overall audio presentation. Do my ears deceive me or did they change the track on this edition?
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#11 of 36 OFFLINE   Jeff Adams

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Posted September 09 2004 - 07:11 AM

Quote:
I personally remember this film having an amazing soundtrack and overall audio presentation. Do my ears deceive me or did they change the track on this edition?


So are you saying that the Deluxe Edition audio track is not that good???

Quote:
From all the reviews I have read, the Superbit isn't much of an improvement because the original transfer and DD track are great to begin with.


But the Superbit is somewhat of an improvement for both the audio and video right?

I definitely do not want to downgrade the video or audio of this movie so if the current version that I already have is the best one then I will just keep it.
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#12 of 36 OFFLINE   Nestor_Ramos

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Posted September 09 2004 - 09:37 AM

I didn't think the DD track was anything special, and I found the score annoying and overbearing most of the time ... sort of like a video game. It's not a bad track, but to my ears it wasn't above average. Of course, if it's the same track used on the previous release, then it didn't have the competition it does today (6.1, for example).

#13 of 36 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted September 09 2004 - 09:42 AM

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. . . . another Anderson film, “Event Horizon,” the 1997 “Solaris” (Tarkovsky, not Soderbergh) knockoff that has to be one of the most unpleasant cinematic experiences of my life.

Why will no one listen to my wisdom? Event Horizon couldn't be any more obviously a remake of Disney's The Black Hole without giving the 'gravity drive' buzz-saw arms and painting it red.

Quote:
With that in mind, Resident Evil, the film, is an above average action thriller, with enough tension, fright and violence to thoroughly satisfy its target audience

I agree, this is a fun, mindless way to waste an afternoon, and it also doubles as a good HT demo disk! (if all your friends are tired of Matrix/LOTR demo's). The only real nit-pickery concerns the sub-par computer generated monster, sadly, it looks to be carried over into the sequel (at least we can see in the trailers).
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#14 of 36 OFFLINE   SteveCallas

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Posted September 09 2004 - 09:52 AM

The video transfer and DD track on this one are the same as on the previous special edition. But as it is, it's a great transfer and an awesome DD track.

Nestor_Ramos - Wow, if you didn't think the surround sound in RE was anything special then I'd love to hear the movies you're listening to. This may not be Saving Private Ryan quality, but it is definitely far above average. Plenty use of the surrounds (always appropriate) and lots of LFE.

#15 of 36 OFFLINE   Nestor_Ramos

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Posted September 10 2004 - 03:27 AM

I thought the sound in the surrounds was muddled and fairly pointless, and the crucial moment when the center channel drops to barely audible is unforgivable. Any disc that makes me rewind to catch crucial plot-related dialog has two strikes against it in my book.

#16 of 36 OFFLINE   Skyler

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Posted September 10 2004 - 03:34 AM

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sort of like a video game


Wow, I wonder why. It is a film BASED on a video game. What's funny is the music in the game is better than the music in the movie. Creepy.
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#17 of 36 OFFLINE   Ken Chui

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Posted September 10 2004 - 04:14 AM

Am I the only one who did not receive a free movie ticket for "RE: Apocalypse"? Posted Image

#18 of 36 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted September 10 2004 - 05:57 AM

Any verification of whether any features from the original edition were dropped from this release?

Strangely, this was the first Paul W. S. Anderson movie I saw that didn't suck! (Well, Soldier didn't *suck*, but he sure tried to make it bad. . .)
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#19 of 36 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted September 10 2004 - 07:48 AM

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Any verification of whether any features from the original edition were dropped from this release?

Yeah - I mention it in my review. http://www.dvdmg.com...vildeluxe.shtml
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#20 of 36 OFFLINE   SteveCallas

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Posted September 10 2004 - 12:47 PM

As far as a point in which the dialog becomes "barely audible", I honestly don't know what scene you are talking about. No part of the movie in which there is talking sticks out in my head as being barely audible. Some help?

Surround use pointless? I don't know if we are watching the same dvd.


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