Saturday, October 27, 2012

Resident Evil: Apocalypse - 2004

"Resident Evil: Apocalypse" - 2004
Dir. by Alexander Witt - 1 hr. 34 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

Stage two: escape the city.  Now, I don't hold it against a film that's based on a video game franchise that it plays out like a video game.  That's actually a positive, all things considered.  But if the first "Resident Evil's" objective was to escape The Hive, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse's" objective is to escape the city.  Unfortunately, this is a much less interesting level than the first.

"RE:A" overlaps with the end of the first film (even recycling some footage).  At the end of the first installment, Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes in a lab, hooked up to wires, and stumbles out of a hospital to find Hell on Earth.  To begin, we rewind a little bit, and discover that the T-Virus (a virus that reanimates dead tissue, which means yes, zombies) had not been contained within The Hive.  Once loose in Raccoon City, we get zombies roaming a reproducing by putting their mouths on whatever they can.  The Umbrella Corporation acts quickly, sealing off the city in an attempt to contain the effects of the T-Virus to the city.  This leaves both the infected and the uninfected trapped.  There is a way out for a few people though.  The Umbrella Corporation botched an early extraction of a scientist's daughter, and he strikes a deal with whomever he can to get her out of the city in exchange for passage out of the doomed city.

While the first film had the claustrophobic underground setting to tease tension out of, "RE:A" comes off like a shitty 1980s low-budget horror film.  On what looks like a studio back-out, zombified Raccoon City denizens shuffle and shamble around cars that are on fire and broken storefronts.  There are the big special-effect monsters, which kind of look like syphilitic cock-monsters with embedded eyes, and they must of course die.  The school where the scientist's daughter is hunkered down in isn't nearly as good of a locale for terror as The Hive was, but at least the film had the good sense to bring the meat dogs back for another go-around.  There's the evil Umbrella Corporation employee with a weird accent (Thomas Kretschmann), the good scientist with a weird accent (Jared Harris), the S.T.A.R.S. infantryman with a weird accent (Oded Fehr); it seems like half the lines delivered in this film were done so by people who might not speak English as a first language.  But that, along with the meat dogs, is appealing.

There are huge problems with the film, mainly that it's so predictable.  Of course the reporter chick has to die, because she's so annoying.  Nemesis, one of the aforementioned cock-monsters (and has his origins in the first installment), has to die because he's so ugly.  The evil Umbrella Corp employee has to die because he's such a dick about everything.  And beyond that, there are basic, unaddressed points within the story itself.  First off, why would anyone live in a walled city?  Surely The Umbrella Corporation didn't erect a wall around Raccoon City upon discovering that the T-Virus hadn't been contained.  There are scenes shown in the city itself where it appears to be your average suburban community.  Wouldn't you be a little curious as to why there were already walls built around the entire city?  And secondly, the outfit worn by one of the main female characters, Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory).  If you were in a city overrun by zombies, where an errant scratch or bite could mean your fate, how you choose to dress?  Personally, I'd favor something like a Ghostbusters outfit, but Ms. Valentine went with a tube top, mini-skirt, and boots (just in case you might confuse her for a hooker).  That's an awfully generous amount of flesh to bare in that scenario, but somehow she survives the film.

This is just a poor film at every turn.  Milla Jovovich's role seems to be minimized in favor of Sienna Guillory's, and that's not to anyone's benefit.  Mike Epps shows up to do what Mike Epps does, which is mostly talk loudly and deliver bad dialogue.  The setting isn't interesting, the story isn't interesting, the monsters (save for the meat dogs) aren't interesting, the film isn't interesting.  Arguably, this film would have been better on a shoe-string budget and with all the money for CG effects instead earmarked for cheesy prosthetics and matte paintings; at least that would have yielded an "I can't believe they actually cobbled together a finished film" sense of bewildered amusement that those sort of films can offer.

1 / 5 - DVD

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