Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

I was taken aback at how much I liked the original Resident Evil film when I first saw it. I had heard about the plot and thought it sounded like crap, read about the casting decisions and disagreed with them, then heard it was going to be PG-13 and more action than horror. I like Paul Anderson's movies, but come on! Then I saw the trailer and changed my tune, and the movie ended up being pretty cool. Not all that gory, but there were clever nods to the game, even though it didn't follow the plot of it at all it was fast paced, suspenseful and fun (and the music rocked!). It also had this whole Alice in Wonderland theme going on that I really ate up.

I was eagerly anticipating this sequel after the ending of the first movie leaves you begging for more, even more so after that awesome teaser trailer that played before Underworld. Too bad it is a total letdown. Paul Anderson wrote the screenplay (in what seemed like a week, the same with AvP), but turned the directorial duties over to Alexander Witt, who is a second unit director. The movie was rushed into production (it shows) and its release date was constantly changing.
Anyway, the movie picks up right where the original left off. Alice is alone in Raccoon City and it appears that everyone is dead. Not so. When the Umbrella Corporation re-opened the Hive the zombies escaped and the T-Virus began to spread like wildfire through the city. People not infected were allowed to leave the city, but some were left behind when Umbrella blocked off the only exit to safety. One is the beautiful dishonored cop Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), a few S.T.A.R.S. officers (the town's SWAT team), a reporter, a young schoolgirl and a jive talking hustler with twin golden guns (from Code: Veronica). Oh yeah, and don't forget about poor old Alice who is now infected with the virus and has randomly turned into a superhero. They must find a way to escape the city while avoiding the living dead as well as the Nemesis, Umbrella's new secret weapon.

The film starts off pretty cool, interweaving footage from the ending of the first film with new footage to show off what happened on the surface while the first movie was taking place. We are rapidly introduced to the characters, the story is set up and what followed should have been an all out zombiethon.
Nope, we get the occasional zombie gang getting their asses whooped by the heroes, but you wouldn't know that because the action is in such extreme close-up that you can't see anything that's happening. Plus there is no blood in this movie at all. While some were miffed by the tameness of the first one, they did show gore. This movie is as dry as the Mojave Desert.

Character's motives and backgrounds are never explained (like what exactly Jill did to get fired from the police force), characters contradict themselves (like one saying “Don't split up”, then leaves the group to check out a room alone), the dialogue is insipid, the characters dim-witted and everything comes off as lame. And what's worse is that out of the myriad of characters featured in this film not one is developed in the slightest, not even Alice. It's just bang bang, run and maybe get some random exposition thrown at you if you're lucky. I didn't care about a single person in this mess, and that includes the main character.

And then there's the ending which is just another set up for a sequel. I don't know what direction these films are going, but it looks like it's the wrong one.
Not to say there isn't some cool stuff. Some of the action scenes are decent (when you can see them) and there are a few suspenseful moments (the school), but it just seems like it's a rush job. Alexander Witt was clearly not the person for this job because it seems like he was totally overwhelmed with the scope of the movie and just couldn't pull it off at all. An experienced action/horror director could have turned this script into a pretty cool movie with a little effort. Besides, this story was prime material to continue that Alice in Wonderland” theme. Alice has gone beyond the looking glass, and what she found there has spread to the real world. But nope, theme gone. So sad.  And the limply shocking twist regarding the Nemesis character is dumb.

Flat, uninvolving and overly stupid, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a true disappointment. It had potential, but it missed the mark on most counts. I will go see the third and final film, Resident Evil: Extinction, just to see where they take the characters, but I'm not expecting to like it.

1 of 5

*written 9/10/04

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