Hideo Bruckheimer

Hideo Bruckheimer
Paul W.S. Anderson: Not as Bad as Uwe Boll

Graeme Virtue | 31 Mar 2009 11:46
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Mortal Kombat (1995)
After his low-budget U.K. debut Shopping (1994), a ram-raiding thriller with a young Jude Law, Anderson was tapped to direct Mortal Kombat, based on the digitized fighting franchise that was still a big deal in the mid-1990s. Anderson lifted the game's goofy gothic backstory about a martial arts tournament between Earthrealm and Outworld and put it front and center. From there, he basically rehashed Enter The Dragon with unsatisfying CGI effects, bucket loads of techno and no recognizable stars save for Christopher Lambert as Raiden (who doesn't even fight!). Though the film was a commercial success, Anderson didn't stick around for the 1997 sequel. (In 2006, though, he was one of the producers on the comparable film version of cheesecake beat-em-up DOA: Dead Or Alive.)

Inner film snob: Unlike the cartoonish Street Fighter: The Movie, there's a unified, stylized, forbidding look to Mortal Kombat, and the sequences in Outworld look fairly convincing. The tournament narrative is a sturdy genre convention, although the fight choreography seems clunky by modern standards. Anderson stages the first of what will be many "shock" endings.

Inner games freak: It takes half an hour to get to the first proper fight, but when the thumping techno - complete with the "Mortal Kombat!" warcry - kicks in, it's pretty exciting. The movie references some of the game's signature moves, notably Liu Kang's mid-air woogly-woogly-woogly attack, but fanboy favorites Sub-Zero and Scorpion fall by the wayside far too soon, and the fatalities are tame compared to the source material. In fairness, Liu Kang's mullet is faithfully rendered.

Resident Evil (2002)
Since the Mortal Kombat series boasts vivid characters but no discernable story, Anderson had relatively free rein when adapting the source material. In contrast, the Resident Evil games have always been cinematic in nature and execution, which is why fanboys were pretty upset when the writer/director/producer created a brand-new character, Alice - played by Milla Jovovich, Anderson's off-screen partner for the past six years - to anchor the movie franchise. The plot lifts various elements from the games but also has its own narrative agenda: Amnesiac Alice accompanies a Special Forces unit to an underground lab to deactivate a rogue A.I. - only to find the facility overrun with zombies, and worse.

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Inner film snob: Though largely studio-bound, Resident Evil has some visual verve and energy, but it's over-stuffed with characters and incoherent flashbacks. After one standout sequence - a corridor booby-trapped with slicey-dicey lasers - the film falls back on typical zombie stand-off tropes. If this is Anderson striking out on his own, he fails to transcend the source material. An apocalyptic teaser ending is surprisingly effective though.

Inner games freak: How can you possibly have a Resident Evil movie without Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Albert Wesker or even Barry Burton? (At least they kept the zombie dogs.) This movie sucks and is disrespectful to the origi- whoa, check out that ending! Just like Resident Evil 2! Paul W.S. Anderson rocks!

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