George Romero's Resident Evil
The horror movie we could've gotten
In 1998, Romero returned to the horror scene, this time with a commercial. He directed the live action commercial shot (promoting the videogame Resident Evil 2) which was shot in Tokyo, Japan. The 30-second advertisement was live action and featured the game's two main characters, Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, fighting a horde of zombies while in Raccoon City's Police Station. The project was a natural for Romero, as the Resident Evil series has been heavily influenced by Romero's "Dead" projects. The commercial was rather popular and was released in the weeks before the game's actual release, although a contract dispute prevented the commercial from being shown outside Japan. Capcom was so impressed with Romero's work, it was strongly indicated that Romero would direct the first Resident Evil film.
He initially declined, stating in an interview, "I don't wanna make another film with zombies in it, and I couldn't make a movie based on something that ain't mine", although in later years he reconsidered and wrote a script for the first movie. While many were impressed with the script (which garnered positive reviews), it was eventually rejected. So he was fired from the project and the studios made the movie more watchable and watered down to appeal to the teenage male audience. So, after firing him they enlisted action director Paul Anderson (Mortal Kombat) to re-write the script and water down the movie. The movie wasn't as good as audiences guessed it would be, and when fans discovered this crime, they instantly protested. Though, George Romero's vision was never given to the American audience, his script still lives on in the internet.
There are a rash of mutilations on farmers in the countryside, when a team of S.T.A.R.S ops go to investigate, they are ambushed by demonic zombie dogs who kill off the entire team except for skilled op Jill Valentine who manages to seek refuge in the deserted mansion where experiments have been run. Along with Chris Redfield, Jill's boyfriend, a new team of Ops must go into the belly of the beast and save Jill along with a scientist who holds the secret to an antidote if the virus contained in the mansion were to ever spread. When they discover the scientist has been turned into a flesh-eating zombie, the mission is altered and everyone (including Jill) must now survive the mansion and escape from the automatic lockdown or they will be stuck in the house with all types of flesh-eating monsters.
I was rather intrigued to discover that stupid studio execs let George Romero, and when I also discovered there was a script available of his vision for the movie, I just had to read it. For the last two days, my eyes were pasted onto the screen as I read Mr. Romero's vision for "Resident Evil". First off, this is probably the first script for a movie where it's almost one-hundred percent accurate to which the property it's based. Usually, feature films based on video games are hardly faithful to the game (i.e. Super Mario: Luigi is a young man, Street Fighter: Guile has short hair) and I can forgive the changes in this. In the script, the changes are rather minimal and they improve the story rather than hurt it. Chris Redfield who is an officer in the original first game, here is Jill's boyfriend who follows the team into the mansion.
He is also part-native American who treasures Raccoon forest and Raccoon city and often disputes the other team member if it should be destroyed. I excused this little character change due to the fact that it not only added well to the story, it also increased character tensions as Chris discovers Jill was with him only as cover for her secret mission. The characters are well represented as we'd want them to be. Chris is a ballsy warrior who often knows what to do and when to do it while Jill provides and excellent double as the gutsy tough soldier she's supposed to be. In the script, Jill and Chris play off well with each other as the tension is noticeable throughout the entire script. We have strong supporting characters we can root for and a villain within the team that makes for great plot twists and turns. Romero has really done his homework on this as the script perfectly mimics the game.
We get the biggest thing like zombies, demon dogs, and large plants all the way down to the assorted color keycards that enable you to move throughout the mansion. I was rather shocked to discover Romero created his own vision for a horror movie while respecting the fans and the game's concept. The script doesn't talk down to us and become condescending as the theatrical movie did. In here there's no karate fighting with dogs, there's no fully-cleaned zombies and there's no two-dimensional characters as the movie had. We also get an excellent sequence in which the team must face off against the bad-ass Tyrant; a bio-organic nearly invincible creature who is bigger and more deadly than anything you can imagine while he destroys everything in his path. In the script there's no annoying Red Queen watching the team yet the entire script leads up to the confrontation with Tyrant the humongous beast.
In the script Romero makes great use of the large mansion in which the story originally takes place and makes use of the laboratory. In the movie you saw, the house was merely suggested to the audience a few times and most of it took place in the chamber below it. In here, the mansion and labs are a character within itself providing obstacles for each of the characters, but don't blame Paul Anderson for the flub that was the Resident Evil movie, you can blame the studio executives for it. Paul Anderson does tend to pay homage to Romero throughout the movie he made: the net like laser that slices the troops in pieces is written in this script and Paul puts it in his movie, the demon dogs shooting scene towards the middle is also in the script. In the script Romero gives us a lot of everything letting fans of the video game feast while giving general audiences a good ol' time.
While the script is practically flawless, there were some aspects in this I wasn't too happy with. First off, each of the character's are interesting, but the dialogue is pretty lame. Maybe this was a fist draft or something but I found myself cringing at some of the dialogue Romero gave us in this. At times some of the supporting characters that provide comedic relief for the movie often provided poorly timed sarcastic comebacks and quips. I was rather disappointed.
So, if you love Resident Evil, didn't like the movie or are curious to see what Romero had in store for us check it out; his script is practically flawless and while the Resident Evil movie we saw in the theater's wasn't exactly terrible, it wasn't as good as the horror movie we could've gotten. We were robbed of Romero's vision folks. Mr. Romero, they have no idea what they've done to us.
If you liked his script allot there is a fan page you might like to join here is the link.
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