Before we begin, it’s worth noting that Paul W.S. Anderson is no genius, but he also gets a lot of crap, much of which can be a bit unfair. So, with the fifth Resident Evil movie, his latest directorial effort, coming out tomorrow, I thought I’d take a moment to write up why this guy doesn’t get a fair shake… and why he deserves one.
He Can Actually Make a Good Movie
First and foremost, hack or not, the guy has an ability to make a movie that’s at least worth watching once. Soldier features a fairly creative script that Hollywood just wouldn’t produce anymore, and Anderson wisely getting out of Kurt Russell’s way so he can act. Mortal Kombat is a goofy early-’90s kung-fu movie that wouldn’t seem out of place among similar efforts from Hong Kong at the time and still holds up. I even have a soft spot for Alien Vs. Predator, even if it’s a lesser entry in both franchises, just because it’s zippy, it’s not terribly self-serious, and there are little nods to the comic books all throughout. Also plot holes you could drive a Mack truck through, but hey, at least he cares. Speaking of which…
He Actually Cares About This Stuff
So, so many video game adaptations fail because, pure and simple, nobody cares. The fan base is taken for granted, or dismissed. Anderson actually enjoys making these movies and works really hard to make them the best possible movies they can be. Something as simple as caring can show through and vastly improve a movie.
And if you think not caring doesn’t matter that much? Sit through a Uwe Boll movie, and then we’ll talk.
He’ll Actively Try To Please The Fans
I’m not saying he succeeds, necessarily. His name is mud among many nerds for a wide variety of reasons. But no matter how creative the profanity gets, no matter how cruel the reviews are, he keeps reading the comics, looking at the forum posts, and genuinely making an effort to make the movies he thinks the fans want.
He’s Made The Only Remotely Watchable Movies Based on Video Games
Granted, there’s no way to write that without viewing it as a backhanded compliment, especially considering his competition is movies like Double Dragon and Super Mario Bros.
On the other hand, Mortal Kombat was a game with an incredibly stupid plot that Anderson turned into a fairly entertaining movie, which only seems easy until you look at how many have failed. Similarly, Resident Evil doesn’t have much to do with the games, but the series as a whole is largely at least tolerable.
Compare this to, say, Hitman, Street Fighter, or even worse Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, which is possibly the worst punch to the groin ever delivered to a fan base. How hard can it be to make a Street Fighter movie? Hollywood made movies about colorful characters fighting in tournaments all the time for about ten years. It’s not a hard formula. It’s a boxing movie. It tells you how bottom of the barrel Hollywood views video games that they can’t even be bothered to rip off Rocky to make one.
Should we demand better? Yes. And eventually, there will be a movie based on a video game that stands on its own merits as a film, that even critics will take seriously. But for that to happen, first Hollywood has to believe there’s money in it.
Like it or not, Anderson is going to be the pair of shoulders that boosts that director up, the one making the movies that earn the money that get the attention of the executives and make that future critical and commercial hit possible.
So, really, let’s cut the guy some slack.