Title: Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Director: Alexander Witt
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Jared Harris, Mike Epps, Mathew G. Taylor
Plot: Following on from the events of the first film Alice (Jovovich) awakens to find herself in Racoon City which has now been ravaged by the T-Virus which the Umbrella Corporation are now moving to cover up. Joining up with suspended police officer Jill Valentine, Alice and a small group of uninfected survivors must attempt to escape the city.
Review: Despite the fact the original film hardly reciving glowing praise from the critics and audiences alike it looked doubtful that Paul W.S Anderson would get to make good on the cliffhanger he ended the first film on with a post coma Alice waking up with a ravaged Racoon City. Still when you deliver a $102.4 million box office on a budget of $35 Million it was kind of inevitable that the studio would push for a follow up. Anderson however would not return for this first sequel other than to produce and write the script as at the time he was busy giving the world his sterile take on both the Alien and Predator franchises with the flacid “Alien Vs. Predator” and leaving second unit director Alexander Witt to instead helm the film which remains his sole credit as a director and having seen the film its not hard to see why.
While the first film might have drawn its inspirations from the first game, this time round its the turn of “Resident Evil 2” and “Resident Evil: Nemesis” both which took place in Racoon City before the series headed off for more exotic locales in the games which followed. However like the first film they are merely just the foundations for another original script from Anderson who despite not being in the directors chair is still keep the build on the world he established in the first film in particular the evolution of Alice as a character.
This time Alice has her memory back while thanks to some tinkering by the Umbrella scientists she now has superhuman strength and agility which from the writing perspective means that Anderson is able to work more than a few OTT scenes into the film such as her introduction to the films main group of survivors which sees her crashing through a church stain glass window riding a motorcycle before blasting the hell out of a group of lickers. For some reason she also seems to be obsessed with sharing her back story whenever given a chance regardless of if characters have heard it before so if you didn’t know that she is an ex-security officer you’ll certainly know by the fifth time she’s told the group. In this instalment we do get to atleast know alittle more history behind the T-Virus and how it relates to Alice through the introduction of the Virus’s creator Dr. Ashford whose daughter Angela, Alice has to rescue from her school in order to get out of the city. The plot for the most part is frustratingly plodding and really only picks up when there’s a big set piece to work in.
From this film we really start to see Alice as the superhero style asskicker with the genetic tampering of her DNA now being used as blank check to work in any ludicrous idea that Anderson can think of and seemingly being all the justification we are supposed to need to understand her evolution from slaying Zombies in a pretty red dress to here being more military in her clothing choice let alone her suddenly being an expert in combat and military tactics which enable her to evade helicopters and repel down the sides of buildings.
The group this time round are a pretty unlikeable bunch with the exception of Sienna Guillory’s Jill Valentine who is a perfect feisty counterpart to Alice as she is introduced shooting zombies in the head which for some reason seem to be of little concern to anyone else in the police station let alone the fact that she is blasting away in such a crowded setting. Also in this group is Jill’s fellow S.T.A.R.S team member Peyton (Adoti), former umbrella soldier Carlos (Fehr) who was also a character introduced in “Resident Evil: Nemesis”. The most irritating though is the motormouthed L.J (Epps) who was originally supposed to be played by Snoop Dog until he dropped out during pre-production and I can’t help but feel that this character would have been less irritating had he still played him.
Our big evil this time is Major Cain (Kretschmann) whose heading up Umbrella’s containment operation and from his introduction its clear that he cares little for the citizens of Racoon city with his concerns instead lying purely with covering up the outbreak by any means possible. This includes sealing the Racoon City residents in the city aswell as releasing Nemesis to kill off the remaining members of S.T.A.R.S
Nemesis is unquestionably one of the strongest aspects of this film and is perfectly transferred from the game where like he is here a towering monster who also happens to weld a minigun and rocket launcher, both which while might have seemed overkill in the game here actually work for the character. Credit also has to be given to Mathew G. Taylor for making this character work especially when the suit weighed around 60 pounds limiting him to shooting in 15 min bursts or risk the heat of the suit overcoming him though to make matters worse the Minigun also added an addition 60 pounds for him to carry. Yes the character might be limited to slowly plodding around the city, but like in the game this really only adds to the daunting presence of this monster.
The downside of this character however comes when it comes to him doing anything other than shooting his weapons which becomes only the more obvious when we get the scenes of Alice fighting Nemesis with a pair of police batons. Due to the restrictive movement of Taylor wearing the suit the whole fight sequence just ends up coming off clumsy for the parts we do get to see with director Witt insisting on shooting the action almost ontop of the actors its often hard to figure out what is supposed to be happening let alone feel any kind of engagement with these fight sequences.
As with the first film this is still a sterile zombie movie with none of the gore we’d expect from the genre, though this time we have to contend with this weird half speed effect that Witt seems to be obsessed with using throughout the film. At the same time he constantly insists on shooting the zombie scenes almost on top of the actors making it often hard to figure out what is supposed to happening and often leaving scenes feeling a lot more chaotic than they should be. We do however get a few decent scenes in the film such as one of the group being overcome by a group of zombie school children aswell as another fun scene with the zombie dogs who make a return here.
A step down from the first film which seeing how that film lingered around the ass end of okay, really doesn’t say much for this film, more so when the ending is dragged out an additional fifteen minutes so that Alice’s character can become even more powered up than before. As such its doubtful that you will return to it after your initial viewing leaving it one for the completionists.