Resident Evil: Apocalypse Movie Review
Milla Jovovich reprises her role as zombie ass-kicker Alice in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the sequel to the hit video game adaptation. This time around, Alice befriends a new group of people that will slowly get picked off one by one.
When we last saw Alice, she had just emerged from the Raccoon City Hospital after waking up on a bed full of wires. When she stepped outside, she realized that the entire city had been overrun with zombies. Resident Evil 2 starts off at that spot, essentially, explaining quickly how the virus got into the city and so on and so forth. You see, the Umbrella Corporation, which essentially owns the city, is curious as to what happened in the Hive, so they reopen its doors with just a few scientists with guns to guard the entrance. It is never clear whether Umbrella wanted the virus to get out or not, but regardless, the beginning is rushed and unsatisfying.
Now that zombies are terrorizing the city, the movie quickly dumps a lot of characters on us, from a number of S.T.A.R. soldiers (including Oded Fehr) to some random black guy (Mike Epps) to Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), the main character from the video games. Little back story is explained for any of them, and while we really shouldn't care, it would have at least been nice to learn more about Valentine. She just shows up and starts shooting zombies instantly and that's all of the character development we get out of her.
Anyway, the various soon-to-be victims eventually team up to battle their way out of Raccoon City as they have learned that a low-yield nuclear device will be launched at sunset to cover up any evidence of the disease. Alice has been genetically reengineered by Umbrella to be a badass and she'll need every ounce of that modification since there's a new monster on the loose by the name of Nemesis. He's a badass as well.
Basically, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a movie that never lives up to its full potential, at least in terms of plot. The first half of the movie has absolutely no plot and a lot of cheesy moments as the characters shoot zombies and various other creatures. There are a lot of stupid things like Alice crashing through church windows on a motorcycle and the characters saying such bad lines like, "We're expendable assets - and we've just been expended." By the way, Oded Fehr is really bad in this movie. I don't know what happened, but he is bad (perhaps the poor screenplay has something to do with it).
The second half of the movie is surprisingly decent as it steers away from zombies and takes a closer look at the genetic engineering and the ruthlessness of the Umbrella Corporation. Things get slightly more complex and the action more entertaining, but what's frustrating is that writer Paul W.S. Anderson (director of the first movie) is sitting on an explosive plot - the evil of Umbrella - and never takes advantage of it. Instead, he and director Alexander Witt just throw a bunch of action scenes at us.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse has its moments and the second half is definitely better than the first half, but by the time we get there we already feel distanced. The zombies are better than they were in the original, but the movie is hardly as scary - a lot more horror would have been nice. With the right director and screenwriter the Resident Evil franchise does have the potential to flex its muscles, but with the current behind-the-camera talent evolved, it can't get any better. For those of you looking for a good and recent zombie movie, the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead is definitely the way to go.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.