Resident Evil: Apocalypse [retro review]

“S.T.A.R.S.!”

The Scoop: 2004 R, directed by Alexander Witt and starring Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, and Oded Fehr

Tagline: My name is Alice and I remember everything.

Summary Capsule: Zombies throw an all-city rave, Alice grumps her way through some shootouts, and a new freak can’t get any lovin’

Justin’s Rating: The best film I never saw

Justin’s Review: Hi, Hollywood action directors? Could I have the briefest of moment of your time to subtlety knock some sense into your noggins? Pay attention, please. The two most screechingly annoying camera techniques used in modern action films are the following: (1) the blurred motion shot, and (2) the shaky-cam in-your-face battle shot. These are camera tricks of hack action directors who think that by substituting these for harder to set up, yet easier to visually follow action sequences, they can trick the audience into believing that something cool has just happened – even if they weren’t able to see it clearly. There’s really nothing that pisses me off more in an action movie than when a director starts throwing these camera shots into the scenes all willy-nilly, which has the result of irritating me and making me, a guy who’s quite comfortable on a small sea vessel in the middle of a harsh gale, seasick. Battlefield Earth over-relied on these shots, and made a bad movie completely unwatchable; Gladiator did too, and sucked a lot of pure joy out of the battle scenes.

Yes, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a film littered with both of these action camera shots. The first scene that they did it in, I just held my breath in annoyance and figured it might get better. But it mostly doesn’t; seven out of every ten action cuts show in RE:A are either blurred motion or hyperkinetic up close shaky-cams. When it comes to a movie series that doesn’t quite boast a vast literary legacy or any lead character that isn’t a former stick thin model, action’s all they got left. And RE:A blew most of it with editing that will nauseate even the most die-hard fans.

It’s a vast shame, because Resident Evil, while bashed by most critics and a large share of the audiences, is a MRFH underrated favorite. The blending of video game and horror/action made the first zombie flick just different enough to enjoy happily – hey, inside-out zombie dogs never get old – and the final scene where Alice walks out of the hospital into a zombie-ravaged city was a great cliffhanger.

Although the moldy apple metaphor has been used before, I’m dragging it back out of the barrel. While this sequel boasts a lot – a lot – of rotten spots, if you’re careful and nibble around them, there’s enough good bits to keep it from being a complete bust.

With shades of Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later, we begin with the peaceful setting of Raccoon City, the zombie smorgasbord of the Midwest. The evil Umbrella corporation, who accidentally set off a zombie-creating virus in the first film, re-opens the underground base and ends up infecting the entire city. Smart move, Harvard grads. Next, why don’t you start serving radioactive milk to school children to see if it’ll whiten their teeth more?

Quicker than you can say Tron-inspired-graphics, a wall is thrown up around the city and Umbrella leaves all humans locked inside to their grisly fate. One bite, and it’s sweet, sweet craving for brains from here on out. This doesn’t sit well with our Alice and Alice’s groupies, which include a couple characters from the video game and some little freaky girl who I think was the Red Queen from the first film. The A-Team tries to find way out of town before a zombie nuke is tossed in, but first they have to find the green octagon key to open the rooster door and solve the water clock puzzle. Sorry, that’s a bit of video game humor for you. And I don’t even get it.

You’d think it would be fun to watch an entire city become consumed by shuffling no-goodniks, but (like 28 Days Later and DOTD) this juicy morsel of storytelling is pretty much shoved aside for us to imagine how it happened. Pity. The pretty much only grand addition to the Resident Evil movies, and the zombie genre in particular, is the introduction of Nemesis. For fans of Resident Evil 3 (the game), he’s almost a mascot of the series: a giant, hulking uber-zombie that’s larger than five Jason Voorhees combined, who likes to walk through walls as a matter of daily habit, and who boasts both a rocket launcher AND a vulcan minigun. If anything, they really underuse Nemesis in RE:A, but the bits he gets are not too shabby.

Hey, it’s a sequel. It may be even more of a guilty pleasure than the first movie, but time will only tell on that. Just, please, for the love of cashews and small babies, will you filmmakers cut it already with those frustrating camera moves?

Trick or treat, monkeyhuggers!

Intermission!

  • Lots of small references to the games
  • The newspaper with the headline “The Dead Walk!” is an homage to George Romero’s Day of the Dead in which exactly the same newspaper headline was displayed.
  • In the ending fight, the words “Finish him” are used, this is straight from the Mortal Kombat games. Producer Paul Anderson also created the Mortal Kombat movie.
  • When the Umbrella agents pull up to the first house of the people they’re sent to evacuate (the female scientist) the commercial playing on the TV screen in her home is a scene from the movie’s own trailer featuring the “Regenerate” product.
  • Like the first movie, the word “zombie” is never used in the film.
  • Was originally entitled “Resident Evil: Nemesis” after the third game in the Resident Evil game series, of the same name, which had a similar plot. The title was later changed to “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” after the release (and subsequent box-office failure) of “Star Trek: Nemesis”.
  • Star Opal writes in, “Nicholai Ginovaeff is Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story all grown up.”
  • Is It Worth Staying Through End Credits? Just before the scrolling credits start there is an announcement that “this has been a product by the umbrella corporation.”

Groovy Quotes

Alice: My name is Alice and I remember everything.

Nicholai Sokolov: [after shooting Zombie dog] STAY!

Nemesis: S.T.A.R.S.!

Carlos Olivera: We’re assets, Nicholai. Expendable assets… and we’ve just been expended.

Major Cain: I’m suprised there’s anyone left alive.
Tech #1: They’re STARS. Special Tactics and Rescue Squad. They’re the best.
Major Cain: Let’s see how good they really are.

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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Resident Evil: Extinction [retro review] « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  2. Pingback: Eunice does Resident Evil: Afterlife « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  3. Pingback: “Resident Evil” week – “Apocalypse” LOL | Fluffrick

  4. Pingback: Eunice does Resident Evil: Retribution | Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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