Resident Evil appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For the most part, Evil provided a good picture, but it didn’t seem to be a terrific one.
Sharpness usually appeared solid. Most of the movie looked nicely crisp and distinct. At times, some wide shots were slightly soft, but those occasions didn’t happen with great frequency; the majority of the flick came across as well defined and accurate. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but I did discern a little light edge enhancement on occasion. In regard to print flaws, I saw a few specks, but grain created the most intrusive presence. Some scenes showed a moderate amount of grain, and those examples didn’t make much sense from a stylistic point of view. The grain likely always existed in the film - I didn’t think it related from this particular transfer - but it seemed odd and slightly distracting.
As with most edgy movies of this sort, Evil featured a very stylized palette and tended toward fairly cool colors. A dark film, it kept the hues pretty subdued most of the time. The colors seemed well reproduced and appropriately saturated, without any problems on display. Black levels also came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly thick. Ultimately, Resident Evil presented a fairly positive picture, but it fell short of greatness.
On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Resident Evil suffered from virtually no flaws. The soundfield presented a very lively and involving affair that really helped make the movie creepier and more effective. All five channels worked actively through most of the film. The elements blended together well and panned efficiently across the speakers, and the surrounds contributed lots of unique audio. The Red Queen’s voice panned neatly across all five channels, and the rear speakers added some very useful spooky effects.
Audio quality seemed positive as well. Speech sounded natural and warm, and I noticed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music seemed clear and lively, as the rough-edged score presented the right level of crunch and fuzz. Effects appeared distinct and accurate and packed a solid punch as well. The movie presented very solid dynamics, with clean highs and some powerful but tight bass. The soundtrack of Resident Evil provided a fine complement for the action that accentuated the material.
On this special edition release of Resident Evil, we find a nice array of supplements. These start with an audio commentary from director Paul W.S. Anderson, producer Jeremy Bolt, and actors Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez. All four sat together for this running, screen-specific track. If you’re looking for scads of specific information about the making of the movie, you’ll probably feel disappointed. If you’re looking for a rollicking and amusing piece, then this is the commentary for you.
The women dominate the track, as they offer sassy and uncensored comments. They talk about the movie, their commentary companions, their co-workers, and pretty much whatever else comes to mind. This occasionally possesses the potential to become annoying, but it never quite does. Instead, their attitude makes the program a nice change of pace.
As for the men, it’s very tough to tell which Brit is which, and they definitely take a backseat to the women. Nonetheless, they add a fair amount of useful information, and they help ground the track. They get into the impertinent spirit of the women, but they do so in a more restrained English manner; they seem content to act as straight men for the women’s wild musings. A few moderate gaps appear during the piece, but these don’t become too onerous. You won’t get much insight into the creation of Evil during this track, but you probably won’t care.
Oddly, the commentary refers to a second technical track. We hear that we can also listen to a piece with visual effects supervisor Richard Yuricich. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear on the DVD. Some other useful bits - like an alternate ending the participants briefly discuss - also fail to show up on this disc.
Within the “Featurettes” domain, we discover five different programs. The Making of Resident Evil runs 27 minutes and 18 seconds as it covers a mix of topics. It combines movie snippets, behind the scenes material, and interviews with principals. In the latter domain, we hear from director Paul W.S. Anderson, producers Bernd Eichinger, Samuel Hadida, and Jeremy Bolt, Capcom Head of Production Yoshiki Okamoto, fight coordinator Jaymes Butler, production designer Richard Bridgland, visual effects supervisor Richard Yuricich, special effects makeup supervisor Pauline Fowler, and actors Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, Eric Mabius and Colin Salmon.
”Making” generally offers a fairly standard promotional piece, but it seems better than average. While it tells us of the plot and the characters, it also delves into various technical realms pretty nicely. In the best parts, we see some shots of the actors’ training and also effects and makeup images; I especially like the bits where they turn the Dobermans into zombies. “Making” isn’t a great documentary, but it includes enough worthwhile material to merit a look.
Scoring Resident Evil lasts 11 minutes and seven seconds. Unsurprisingly, it concentrates on the music of the film, as we get comments from director Anderson plus composers Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson. Overall, they provide a solid little chat about the score. Manson particularly offers some good information about what he wanted to do with the music, and the program seems generally compelling.
In Costumes, we get a quick look at the garb seen in the movie. The three-minute and 26-second piece mixes visuals from the film and interviews with production designer Richard Bridgland, director Anderson and actors Jovovich and Rodriguez. The program provides a little useful insight about the rationale behind the outfits, but overall it seems too brief and superficial. The program presents some good comments but includes little depth.
The piece that examines Set Design follows the same formula. The four-minute and six-second featurette shows movie bits, design plans and interviews with Bridgland. I feel exactly the same way toward “Set Design” as I do “Costumes”. The show includes some decent tidbits but remains too superficial to be worth much.
Not really a featurette, Zombie Make-up Tests lasts 61 seconds. It simply shows shots of those early stabs at the make-up. These seem appropriately disgusting and are moderately interesting to see.
Less entertaining is the music video for “My Plague” by Slipknot. Using the “sajl” mix, this video lasts three minutes and five seconds, and it also includes a separate 30-second soundtrack advertisement after it ends. The video uses the timeworn combination of movie clips and lip-synched performance footage. It cuts between these with frightening rapidity and seems even more hyper and vapid than most videos. Slipknot do little for me as well. I like some aggressive music, but their stuff feels very generic, and their silly stage act makes them come across as nothing more than a 21st century rip-off of KISS.
In the Filmographies area, we get listings for a few participants. This domain includes entries for director Paul W.S. Anderson plus actors Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, and James Purefoy.
Lastly, we get a selection of trailers. In addition to the ad for Resident Evil we get promos for XXX, Men In Black II, Spider-Man, Formula 51, and fellow video game adaptation Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. All the trailers appear in anamorphic 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Oddly, the trailers are found through a page accessed through the main menu, not within the “Special Features” area. Disney does that with their “Sneak Peeks”, but not many other studios provide a similar presentation.
If you desire an original and totally creative experience, Resident Evil probably won’t do much for you. If you think you’d enjoy a lively video game come to life, then Resident Evil should prove to offer a lot of fun. Though not a great flick, it offered enough spark and life to make it enjoyable and entertaining. The DVD provided good picture along with excellent audio and a decent roster of extras highlighted by a wild audio commentary. Action fans should get a kick out of Resident Evil.
Note: as I write this in July 2002, I’ve heard rumors that a 2-DVD special edition of Resident Evil will come out at some point in the future. Fans of the film may want to consider that possibility before they purchase this set.