RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE
*** (out of 5)
September 10, 2004
Milla Jovovich as ALICE
Sienna Guillory as JILL VALENTINE
Sandrine Holt as TERI MORALES
Oded Fehr as CARLOS OLIVERA
Thomas Kretschmann as MAJOR CAIN
Sophie Vavasseur as ANGIE ASHFORD
Jared Harris as DR. ASHFORD
Mike Epps as L.J.
Directed by: Alexander Witt
BY KEVIN CARR
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There’s a certain nostalgia that I felt in watching “Resident Evil: Apocalypse.” And it didn’t just come from the not-so-subtle homage to George Romero’s “Dead” films, like the newspaper headline reading “The Dead Walk” and the zombies breaking through a row of glass doors as they did in the shopping mall in “Dawn of the Dead.”
There’s also a nostalgia that throws back to the schlockier films of the 1980s. Films like “Night of the Demons” and “Return of the Living Dead.” These are hardly necessarily elements of great movie making, but for a long-time horror fan for myself, they gave me a small warm fuzzy inside.
I guess that’s about the read you can get from this film. If you’re a long-time horror fan who watched even the crummy direct-to-video releases in the 1980s and 1990s, you’re definitely gonna find something to love in “Resident Evil: Apocalypse.” If you have no love for these kind of movies, you’re gonna find the moviegoing experience excruciating.
“Resident Evil: Apocalypse” takes up after the first film, in which the T virus was released during an accident in a secret underground lab. This virus reanimates anyone who died in the accident, a team of security officers were sent in, and the underground hive was eventually sealed before the T virus could leak out. Now, the Umbrella Corporation has reopened the hive and infected the city above.
At first, I thought this was going to deteriorate into a standard zombie flick. The appeal of the first film was it was a different take on a zombie movie. Even though I am a self-admitted horror fan, I always felt the well was pretty dry when it came to zombies. In the past few years, movies like “28 Days Later” and even the “Dawn of the Dead” remake tapped into a new source for these films.
The first film basically took a zombie movie and mixed it with a haunted house movie, similar to how “Alien” mixed space travel with a haunted house movie. This gave the first film a slightly different spin on the old-fashioned zombie movies. But moving the zombies to the surface put the filmmakers in just another rehash of the Romero “Dead” films. However, there was enough other things going on here that kept it from fresh – at least fresh for a genre full of schlock.
First, the survivors are trying to save the little girl of one of the scientists who created the T virus. They’re armed to the hilt, and that makes them able to have a little more confidence to move through the city rather than holing up in a shopping mall or underground bunker. Second, there’s a side story in which the Umbrella Corporation has unleashed a breed of genetically engineered bio-weapons to dispatch the zombies.
One of these weapons is the Nemesis project, which ties up the fate of one of the characters from the first film. This superhuman killing machine is virtually indestructible and carries weapons like shoulder rockets and the highest caliber machine gun I’ve ever seen.
It’s been several years since I saw the first “Resident Evil,” and I’ve never played the video game, but it wasn’t too hard to follow the story. Director Alexander Witt and writer Paul W.S. Anderson bring things into focus pretty nicely by recapping what’s happened before and how all of these things work together. It is definitely a direct sequel to the first film, but the viewer doesn’t feel left out if he or she doesn’t remember what happened first.
Oh, the film is not without its faults. There are plenty. Primarily, the characters fall to a whole laundry list of classic horror film mistakes, like choosing to split up a group of four characters while searching a school. Additionally, even though the entire city is overrun with zombies, people seem to forget that they’re not alone after killing only one or two, and they decide to have a long, drawn-out conversation before being jumped by another group of bad guys.
Still, when the biggest leap of faith you’ll have to make is the fact that the city where this happens is called “Raccoon City,” things are okay. The ending of the film is a bit confusing, like the writers had an idea of what they wanted to do for a sequel but didn’t bother explaining anything to the audience, but at least you get to see Milla Jovovich naked in a medical tank.
So, if you’re into horror-action films, this is a good bet. If you’re into cerebral movies about the human condition, you’ll want to find another way to spend a couple hours.