To finish up the week, we have a special treat for you.
Earlier this week we had a review of a George Romero's Resident Evil
script, click here to read it. Today, we have a review of director Paul
Anderson' screenplay for the movie he recently finished shooting. Do not
worry, after the weekend break we will be back with more script reviews then
you can imagine...
Resident Evil Script Review
I have with me the script to Resident Evil: Ground
Zero, second draft, written by director Paul Anderson, and it's not bad.
Some elements of the script are genuinely well written, a few fall flat, one
or two are actually scary, but most of the film is simply... not bad. Again,
this is an early draft, so the final version may not only be better, but
also drastically different from this one, but I will give my thoughts on
where the series seems to be headed.
The very best sequence in this draft is clearly the opening
- a surprisingly well-paced piece of genuine horror. Although integral to
the plot, the terror that slowly evolves from an average day at the office
seems completely unrelated to the average Resident Evil premise (you
know... zombies). On its own, this sequence deserves no small amount of
praise, and if given a talented editor could genuinely become a genre
classic. Though perhaps not completely original in concept, it rips off the
page. It's somewhat downhill from there, unfortunately.
The next shot reveals Alice (Milla Jovovich). Naked. And
believe you me, there is nothing wrong with seeing Milla Jovovich
naked, but it feels obligatory... like it was just thrown in to give the
movie a little bit of. Regardless, she finds herself in a great big creepy
mansion, all alone, and - get this - with amnesia. Memory loss is a clichéd
plot device and plays out as such here. There are a few cute ideas resulting
in the premise - everyone claiming she owes them money, a plot twist in the
third act - but ultimately it just seems like she suffers from amnesia so
all the other characters will feel the need to explain things to her (and
thusly, the audience). This is not a horrible screenwriting sin, but it
seems unnecessary when there is another character that, even WITH his
memory, genuinely is out of the loop and could serve the same expository
Oh well. Said character is Matt, a security guard Alice
meets on the grounds who has a secret or two of his own. Shortly thereafter,
twelve heavily armed commandos join them as well, and they proceed to
investigate the strange occurrences of the first scene.
Paul Anderson clearly did his homework with claustrophobic
action/horror films, and all the tricks are used here. To his credit,
mostly to their full effect. The typical commando banter plays off well, the
action scenes tend to work, and the characters that actually live long
enough to have personalities are reasonably strong, as is typical with an
Anderson action film. Like his previous movies, the character development is
extremely familiar (nothing wrong with that), but motivations seem thin, and
not everyone gets the pay off their development seems to warrant.
Ironically, the most complicated character is actually the most
two-dimensional... but I won't elaborate any further than that.
Similarly, Anderson also recognized that in most great
horror films, the horror comes from lack of action - waiting for the scares,
not the scares themselves. In the script, however, these setups don't always
seem to work - even though the payoffs almost always do. With some strong
editing and cinematography, however, these scenes could end up just
The first page of the screenplay rather boldly states that,
"IF THE SUSPENSE DOESN'T KILL YOU SOMETHING ELSE WILL," but apart from a
strong opening and, conversely, a weak ending, this draft of the script is
pretty much your standard action-horror fare. It could have been improved
since this draft, but judging from the storyline they have chosen to work
with, I think that it will be the direction that truly makes or breaks
Resident Evil: Ground Zero.
And of course, the director is Paul Anderson.
Now I myself am not a card-carrying member of the Paul
Anderson Hate Club. The man is not a horrible filmmaker. His films, like a
few other directors in Hollywood, are perfectly fine on the surface, but if
you look anywhere beneath that you find that they tend to have no substance,
no heart, and certainly no evident passion. And this is the inherent flaw in
all of his films - they all behave like no one cared about them; children
who received a perfectly good upbringing, but were never truly loved. They
have nothing to complain about, certainly, but also not much to praise. For
semi-pointless action movies like Soldier and Mortal Kombat,
this is a somewhat forgivable sin. We watch them, are entertained (at least
I was), and then forget that they were ever made. But for a horror
movie... well, let's just say that I consider Event Horizon to be one
of the worst horror movies of the 1990s. Horror films don't need great
scripts. Hell, some of the greatest ones ever have genuinely BAD scripts.
Horror films need great directors: people with passion and vision who love
and know how to manipulate audiences. Paul Anderson has never shown himself
to be the man who can effectively do that.
But that doesn't mean he can't. Judging from this draft, it
is clear the man is genuinely trying to create a damn good horror film, and
if given the right kind of support he could be well on his way to creating
one. If Anderson manages to give Resident Evil: Ground Zero just a
LITTLE bit of the passion that the rest of his oeuvre is lacking, this could
be end up being his best film. (Yeah, yeah... Insert obvious joke here.) At
the very least, however, we can expect business as usual from the Anderson
camp: solid, glossy genre work. Not a classic, but not a waste of a matinee
What do you think? Talk about it on the Forums
That's all folks...
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Jean-François Allaire (aka DeadPool)
Questions, comments, praises etc. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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