September 13, 2012



Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Director: Alexander Witt
Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson

1.5 / 5 zedheads


You know those dogs you sometimes meet that strike you as extraordinarily dumb? I mean the kind of big, slobbering, dumb brutes that run around the room for no reason, bark at nothing, scare themselves with their own shadows, and get so excited they're liable to pee all over the floor for no reason. Resident Evil: Apocalypse is that kind of dog.

Some weeks ago, in preparation for the release of Resident Evil: Retribution, I began revisiting the Resident Evil film franchise. Much to my surprise, I found myself appreciating the first film in the franchise more than I did the first time I watched it. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about the stiff, bone-headed, and insufferably ridiculous orgy of Matrix-inspired action that is the sequel: Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

An apocalypse of backlit zombies!
Umbrella takes branding to the next level
 Following the events of Resident Evil, Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakens in an abandoned lab where the Umbrella corporation has been experimenting on her. When she ventures out into Raccoon City, she discovers that the T-virus has turned into a city-wide outbreak. Inexplicably gifted with ambiguously defined superpowers, Alice ceases to become the character she was developing into in Resident Evil and instead becomes a walking, talking, motorcycle-jumping, wall-running action movie cliche. To escape Raccoon City before the Umbrella corporation destroys it with a nuclear bomb, Alice must find the missing daughter of an Umbrella scientist. Along for the ride is a hot cop named Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), Carlos (Oded Fehr) an Umbrella soldier, and a surprisingly racist stereotype of urban black men  (Mike Epps). They are pursued by a hulking rubber monster in a trench coat codenamed Nemesis which Umbrella has designed as a counterpart to Alice. Using the urban chaos of Racoon City as a staging ground, nefarious Umbrella supervisor Timothy Cain (Thomas Kretschmann) pits Alice and Nemesis against each other to determine who is the most effective bio-engineered killing machine.

School's been blown to pieces
Resident Evil: Apocalypse is straight up a dumb-ass movie. It's got so many plot holes and inane contrivances that you have to be craving escapism like an addict craves heroin in order not to notice the extreme leaps in logic this film is shakily built upon. Take for instance the outbreak of the T-virus. Remember in the first film how The Red Queen computer system was programmed to seal off the Hive and kill thousands of employees in order to prevent any of the T-virus or Umbrella's bio-engineered monsters from escaping the confines of the lab? Well, Resident Evil: Apocalypse begins with a team of Umbrella investigators doing what amounts to walking up to the Hive and just leaving the door wide open. You mean to tell me Umbrella doesn't have a more secure plan for entering a compromised area than, "Let's just open'er up and take a looksee?"

Jill Valentine can read me my rights anytime
What's an Resident Evil movie without dobermans?
Things happen in Resident Evil: Apocalypse because the filmmakers want them too, not because they make any sense. Zombie corpses erupt for the ground of a Church cemetery when prior to this we've only seen the T-virus reanimate the recently living, not years-old corpses. How did the T-virus reanimate these dead piles of bones? Because it looks cool. 

While Valentine and others hunker down in a Church fighting Lickers, Alice flies her motorbike through a stained glass window and lands on one of the creatures. How did she know the survivors were in there, why did she choose to help them instead of any other survivors she may have seen, and how did she know when to come through that window in order to take out the mutant creatures she couldn't see inside? Because that's sweet, man. 

You get the idea, right? Alice running down the side of a skyscraper, Umbrella managing to convince the whole world a city was destroyed by a nuclear meltdown instead of a nuclear attack despite the fact that nuclear meltdowns can't cause mushroom clouds, and Alice's bewildering escape from Umbrella at the end despite every reason to the contrary why it shouldn't happen -- all these things happen for the sake of happening. Any explanation is steamrolled over in order to get to the next lame joke or unimaginative action sequence.

The Tears of a Nemesis
For horror fans, Resident Evil: Apocalypse offers some moments of dread, atmosphere, and zombie chills -- especially during a scene that takes place at a ravaged school with undead children -- but these horror elements are just padding in an already over-stuffed orgy of fist-pumping yet shallow action set pieces. Don't even get me started on the ending. Is Alice dead? Is she a clone? What the hell is going on except a hamfisted attempt at extending the story for a sequel?

Gives me flashbacks to Alien Resurrection. That's a good sign, right?
With too many characters, too many plot holes, and straight-to-video acting, Resident Evil: Apocalypse isn't even so dumb you feel sorry for it. You just shake your head in befuddlement and watch it eat its own barf as it pisses on the floor.