lot seems to happen within the confines of "Resident Evil:
Apocalypse", but you'd be hardpressed to figure out what. As loud
music videos in the guise of movies go, "Apocalypse" is pure
popcorn, wallowing happily in its ability to be completely lacking in
anything resembling substance. Not that it matters, mind you. This is not
only a movie adapted from a videogame, but it's a sequel to a movie
adapted from a video game. Doubly worst, you say? Well, not necessarily.
As vacuous and loud Summer Event films go, "Apocalypse" makes no
bones about being nothing more than 90-odd minutes of mindless, frenzied,
and wholly incoherent carnage produced on a Hollywood-sized budget.
Having survived her encounters with the undead in the
franchise's previous installment, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is once again in
search of answers. This time around she has help from disgraced
ex-S.T.A.R.s commando Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). Jill is a super
zombie killer dressed in a hot mini-skirt number. A good thing, too,
because Raccoon City is being overrun by zombies. Apparently the film's
Super Mega Duper Corporation, the innocuously named Umbrella, runs all of
Raccoon, and when the undead surfaces, the unfeeling corporation shuts
down the entire city, chalking up its (one presumes) million or so
residents as an acceptable loss.
It isn't long before Alice hooks up with Jill, and
the duo, along with newswoman Sandrine Holt and left-for-dead Umbrella
commando Oded Fehr, has to battle their way through the city, which is
scheduled for nuclear demolition at sunset. Their goal: locate young Angie
Ashford (Sophie Vavasseur), the daughter of an Umbrella scientist who is
secretly coordinating his daughter's rescue from outside the infected
city. Angie, we come to learn, was the inspiration for the computer
simulation in the first "Resident
Evil". And to make matters worst, a big ugly guy with staples in
his face, and lugging around a rocket launcher and a mini-gun, named
Nemesis has been set loose in the city. His mission: kill Alice!
If it sounds as if "Apocalypse" is hard to
follow, don't get your hopes up. It's a cartoonish film, plotted with
videogame simplicity by Paul Anderson, who helmed the original but has
handed over the directing chores to long-time second banana Alexander
Witt. And apparently Witt isn't very interested in making a good movie,
being that his primary concern seems to be making everything onscreen as
incomprehensible, jumbled, and incoherent as possible. Nice work, Alex. I
couldn't tell what was happening half of the time.
Not surprisingly, action scenes consist of ear
shattering gunfire and blurring bodyparts. Most notable (or, to be more
accurate, most unnoticeable) are the hand-to-hand fights where our
awesome female duo smacks the living dead around with great panache. Mind
you, not that you could tell what the hell they were doing; basically they
move around a lot, whirling and grunting, and then zombies just fall down.
And get this: apparently being undead doesn't necessarily negate these
zombies from getting their necks snapped and thus killed for good. Go
figure. And here I thought losing the usage of some vertebrae wouldn't
really, you know, do much to stop someone who was already undead.
Then again, maybe I'm just thinking too hard.
In any case, "Apocalypse" does earn some
brownie points from the script's uncanny ability to shuffle its
one-dimensional characters from one videogame-inspired set piece to
another. And true to his self-confessed love for the original video games
that inspired the franchise, scriptwriter Anderson adapts a lot of the
second Resident Evil videogame's scenarios into the film. The church, the
dark basement, the police station, a bus in the middle of the street, and
even a cemetery make appearances. For gamers, "Apocalypse"
definitely has more of the "adaptation" feel than even the
Then again, in the hands of a better director, the
mentioned set pieces wouldn't just last 5 minutes and be filled with
frenzied gunfire and indistinguishable action -- essentially "Wham,
bam, what the hell just happened, ma'am?" A better director would
have drawn out the battle with the zombie dogs, for instance. A better
director would have gotten more out of Jill Valentine (who, it should be
noted, is played perfectly by Sienna Guillory, right down to the uniform
and the crouching movements) as she navigates the various dark hallways
And of course it needs to be said that having both
Alice and Jill was a major blunder. The result? The film struggled to find
something for each woman to do. In the end, Alice got to engage in a
hand-to-hand fistfight with Nemesis (I kid you not) while Jill is
relegated to hostage duty. In what should be considered dubious
recognition, at least Paul Anderson seems just as unconcern with dragging
out the film's set-up. The movie hits its stride without a single wasted
filler scene, and for that we can all be thankful. It is just a zombie
film, after all. Joseph Campbell and his mythical "character
arcs" needn't make appearances.