The first Resident Evil film was based on a popular video game of the same name. The video game featured assorted characters running around firing weapons into unending hoards of undead zombies. The movie was pretty much the same thing. Nonetheless, it came across as decent B-movie fun thanks to a simple script, a bit of visual flair from director W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Alien vs. Predator) and a seriously sexy turn by star Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc). Since the video game spawned a series of sequels, it was only natural that the movie would follow suit. Hence, two years on down the line, we are faced with the horrors of Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
In the first film, an amnesiac security specialist named Alice (Jovovich) found herself trapped inside a secret underground lab run by the greedy global Umbrella Corporation. As luck would have it, there was also a nasty virus running loose that turned people into flesh-hungry zombies. You pretty much know the results: People got bitten, zombies got shot, we all had a good time.
With RE: Apocalypse, Alice has escaped from the lab to find surrounding Raccoon City (don't ask) similarly overrun with zombie legions. Seems that the corporate overlords of Umbrella, who make Ken Lay look like Michael Moore, have sealed off the city and intend to cover up their little boo-boo with a tactical nuclear strike come dawn. (Which is as good an argument as any for not allowing Halliburton anywhere near the military.)
With the help of a sexy female cop (Sienna Guillory, Love Actually), a sexy male cop (Oded Fehr, The Mummy) and a wisecracking black guy (Mike Epps, Next Friday), Alice formulates a plan to blast her way out of the embattled Raccoon City. Naturally, Umbrella doesn't like this idea and sends a giant mutated supersoldier (which they, conveniently, have handy) to take Alice out once and for all.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse isn't the most user-friendly of films. It doesn't bother with such niceties as plot and character. Basically, things just start happening and don't friggin' stop for an hour and a half. Bullets whiz, buildings explode, fists fly, zombies attack, weird monsters appear out of nowhere. It certainly gives viewers their money's worth in terms of bombastic, speaker-rattling action, but it's a shame no one involved in making the film seemed to understand the word “pacing.” You can't build a roller coaster with all downhill slopes. Apocalypse is all furious action without so much as a breather to put it all in perspective. “What the hell is happening and why?” you ask between fistfuls of popcorn. “Shut up and watch the hot girl in the miniskirt shoot the machine gun!” replies the film.
At least initially, director Alexander Witt (a first-timer used to doing second unit directing) seems to infuse the film with an interesting visual style. The film has a high-tech multimedia look to it, incorporating video footage, surveillance cameras, computer screens and more to capture the feel of the film's digital source material. For a while, it works. In the end, though, Witt surrenders to it all in a fit of spastic stylistics. The final battle scene between Alice and that monstrous supersoldier with the S&M fashion sense and the mashed potatoes for a face is nothing more than an incomprehensible blur of color. I have no idea what happened in that scene. Was it two people fighting? Two monkeys humping? A badly filmed presidential debate between George Bush and John Kerry? Your guess is as good as mine.
Diehard fans of the video game series might get a small thrill or two out of seeing assorted locations, characters and beasties that they recognize. Those looking for a solid horror movie (or even the guilty, adrenaline-driven pleasure of the first flick), however, will get nothing more than a headache in exchange for pumping eight dollars in quarters into the box office.
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