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  Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Year: 2004
Director: Alexander Witt
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Jared Harris, Sophie Vavassuer, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Sandrine Holt, Iain Glen
Genre: Horror, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 6 votes)
Review: Picking up where the first film left off, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is the sequel to Paul W.S. Anderson’s lacklustre adaptation of the undead video game sensation. Alice, the heroine of the first film, has been joined by a number of new characters who must fight their way out of the zombie filled streets of a now quarantined Raccoon City. They also have to seek out a young girl, the daughter of an employee of the evil Umbrella organisation who can help them escape. Unbeknownst to everyone however the latest result of the T virus experiment, Nemesis, has been unleashed into the city and is on their trail.

If you thought that Resident Evil was bad then be prepared, the sequel is even worse! It seems no one learned from the many mistakes of the first film, least of all Paul W.S. Anderson (now only responsible for the script) who makes all the same mistakes he did with the screenplay last time round. The plot is beyond formulaic, the dialogue laughable (not helped by the equally bad actors) and the action set pieces totally uninspired. What may seem like a plus point, a new director, is actually another minus. Alexander Witt is arguably even worse than Anderson. There is no cohesion at all to the proceedings, no depth to the characters, no excitement or feeling of horror. There are badly executed attempts to make cool action sequences and, as with the first film, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is full of scenes that are no more than third rate rip offs of John Carpenter and James Cameron set pieces. There is never a sense that any of the characters are in jeopardy, as a consequence the film is never exciting or scary in any way.

Another addition to the sense of uninvolvement are the zombies themselves. The fun of the games resides in blowing holes in the undead with ever more powerful firearms but none of that has made the transition to the big screen. Fans want to see blood soaked deaths and the undead being gorily dispatched. Alas they won't find any of that here. The zombies are rarely seen in any detail and for some reason Witt has decided to rely on shaky slo mo whenever they shamble onto the screen, making them as threatening as a drunk who’s lost a bet. During the moments that they come into contact with our heroes the results are censor friendly edited affairs. The filmmakers seem to think that what the audience want are poorly executed Kung Fu fight sequences with incompetent choreography and editing. Sequences which induce yawns rather than cheers. When you're not groaning at the sheer ineptitude of the whole affair your being reminded of far better movies such is the derivative nature of the film.

For fans of the game there are a few familiar faces, such as Jill Valentine and the unstoppable monster Nemesis, as well as many other little nods to the games for those in the know to spot. Although the addition of Valentine seems like a good idea she is so similar to Alice, (i.e. another babe who kicks ass and takes no B.S.) that it renders her character redundant, especially when Alice has been augmented by the T virus to become some sort of Buffy style kung fu superhero! They should have either killed off Alice or scrubbed Valentine from the script. Then again, it would take a lot more than that to render this film watchable, maybe a cast of talented actors would have been a good start? Milla Jovovich continues in the same vein she began in the first film. In other words she attempts and fails to create an action heroine along the lines of Ripley that the audience can root for. Why the filmmakers seem so enamoured of her is anyone’s guess. The other strong female character, Jill Valentine is brought to the screen with equal levels of talent by the camera friendly Sienna Guillory.

Amongst the dross there is the vaguest hint of a good idea in the script, but one that is totally wasted. Dr Ashford, the good intentioned creator of the T virus has, with his trusty laptop, been able to track down his daughter and by hacking into the telephones can communicate with the characters stuck in the city. This situation could have been far better exploited, the bulk of the film could have centred on this idea. With the Dr leading the characters through different sections of the city encountering different enemies and obstacles throughout, it could have knowingly played with the conventions of the video game experience. But the film doesn’t have any of this invention, content to meander along to its underwhelming big showdown between the hero and the villain which is, true to form, another piece of badly constructed action.

With zombie movies having something of a revival over the past couple of years exemplified in such enjoyable films as 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead it’s a shame that something more entertaining could not have been made of the Resident Evil franchise. Even the unnecessary Hollywood remake of Dawn of the Dead was better. The original series of games are inherently cinematic, taking inspiration from classic horror movies, most notably the zombie trilogy of George A. Romero. As a consequence it would seem fairly easy for any filmmaker to bring the characters, twisting plotlines and bloody violence of Resident Evil to the big screen. It takes considerable effort to come up with something as bad as this. But the worst aspect of the movie is its epilogue, which rehashes elements from the final scenes of the first film and is nothing more than a ten minute set up for a potential third entry into the franchise. Let’s hope that idea stays dead and buried!
Reviewer: Jason Cook

 

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Alexander Witt  (1952 - )

Chilean-born director who has worked as a second unit cinematographer on many Hollywood blockbusters, including Pirates of the Caribbean, xXx, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator and The Bourne Identity. Made his directing debut with the zombie sequel Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

 
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