September 16, 2004

Movie Review: Resident Evil Apocalypse

Could have been worse. This is, right from the start, not a good film, very far from it in fact. Bad acting, bad script, some silly visuals, flat out ridiculous setup. Despite all this, I found myself enjoying it, and having a good time. There is no way I can defend this as a good movie, and most serious movie fans will probably tear it to shreds, I know I can. I just choose not to take that route, it is the kind of silly brain numbing cinema that we all need once in awhile.

Apocalypse picks up right where the first one ended. The infection is spreading and the people of Raccoon City are trying to get out, the only problem is that the evil Umbrella Corporation won't let them out. People are turning into zombies, the city is closed off, it is now up to a small group of survivors to fight their way out of the city. There are armies of zombies, the Umbrella security staff, and the latest Umbrella creation, Nemesis.

As a sequel it works well, although this one seems to be much more disjointed, yet at the same time has a lot more video game spirit than the first. More of an action film than horror, we are given lots of shootouts and fist fights. Bullets fly slowly through the air, zombies collapse, people get bit. The plot is secondary as no characters really get all that much development.

The story jumps and leaps through so many hoops and stretches, I'm not sure what a lot of the motivations were, and didn't care so long as things kept blowing up! That is not normally a sentiment I have regarding movies, but this was so stupid I had to shut down a bit if I expected to enjoy it. We do get the zombie dogs from the first movie back this time, I always get a kick out of them.

My enjoyment is completely illogical. The heroic band stops every once in awhile for some spotty exposition, or when they have to add a member, or subtract one. We don't get any real reasons why Umbrella is interested in this project, they do reopen the Hive from the first film to find out what happened, but they don't stay down there for very long, making the expedition rather pointless, just an excuse to get the virus topside. The timing between this movie and the first don't make sense, within the first few minutes the virus is running rampant, people are panicked, and we see Alice wandering through empty streets. Again, I'm applying too much logic which does not really apply here. Before long, Alice is teamed up with Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillroy), a character from the game series, as well as a reporter, and a civilian whose only purpose is comic relief. A few fights later they are joined by an Umbrella security man played by Oded Fehr (The Mummy Returns). Together they go on a mission to save a scientists daughter, who is also hiding a secret.

What we needed here is more of the creatures, The "lickers" reappear in this movie and are only around for a few minutes. Likewise the Nemesis creature, gets a decent story, but is also one of the goofiest things I've seen this year. On top of that, our human cast spends more time posing and posturing than they do telling us a story.

Milla Jovovich slips right back into Alice, a role she appears to enjoy playing. She gives us a tough, sexy heroine with very little depth. In that sexy heroine role, we get a second helping this time around with Sienna Guilroy's Jill Valentine, can't bea t a girl in a skirt with a gun belt wrapped around her thigh. The rest of the cast is pretty much interchangeable, although I did enjoy seeing Oded Fehr in a movie again, he is a good actor who injects his character with a little more humanity than would be expected. Zack Ward is also in this movie, probably best known for being the bully in A Christmas Story, playing a security member here, who for some reason has a Russian accent, sounded a little funny coming from him.

Alexander Witt makes his directorial debut here, after replacing Paul WS Anderson when he left the project to make Alien vs Predator. It is my understanding that Anderson had actually filmed a lot of this movie, so I am not sure how much of the finished product may be his, but the film definitely has his fingerprints on it. Witt picked up where Anderson left off giving us a highly visual work that is inspired by all the other genre films that have come before it. Anderson is credited with the screenplay, and that does provide a bridge to the story of the first by including at least part of the creative team.

Bottomline. If you liked the first, you probably like this. Just do not expect anything terribly intellectual from it. This jumps up on my guilty pleasure list, but won't be in my top ten list. I cannot in good conscience recommend this as a good film, but it is a decent time waster.

Mildly Recommended.


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