Although the film begins, cryptically, at the start of the original film, the plot soon gathers pace as the concept of the world devastated by the T-Virus outbreak is established and the band of hardy survivors of this New World are introduced: strong women with big guns are paralleled with equally strong men who have as equally big guns. And whilst this all seems perfunctionary for contemporary films of this type, it does lead to some cracking set pieces involving the search of an abandoned hotel, a Birds-esque assault by a mass of infected crows, and a multitude of zombie encounters. Whilst all this is going on above ground, below ground the Umbrella Corporation continues their insane biological experiments in an effort to reverse the effects of their virus. It is here that the quality of the film suffers as this sub plot is strongly reminiscent of Romero’s classic Day of the Dead: an increasingly mad scientist captures zombie specimens, puts them in a corral and then attempts to educate them. All of this is compounded by the fact that the Umbrella facility is basically a huge underground military complex that is not too dissimilar to the underground silo of Romero’s film.
Whilst all this does detract from the overall quality of the film’s sense of originality, it still delivers in spadefuls of action, suspense and gore, as well as in its imagery: Alice attempts to leave the Racoon City mansion are a sterile juxtaposition of cold clean whites and deep blood reds, the darkness of the abandoned hotel punctuated with pockets of gold light and the ariel images of the millions of zombies stumbling through the wastelands all add a classy visual depth to the film. Such a quality is unsurprising as director Russell Mulcahy called the shots on Razorback (1984), Highlander (1986) and The Shadow (1994).
In all, a good little film that certainly delivers as long as you don’t expect too much from the potential the franchise has to offer.