Title: Resident Evil Apocalypse (2004)
Director: Alexander Witt
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Sienna Guillory, Jared Harris, Mike Epps
Halloween 2012 was all about zombies here on The Film Connoisseur, hope you guys enjoyed it! I’m currently still in a zombie hangover…which means, I’m still watching and reviewing zombie movies for the next couple of days, so look forward to that! I’d been meaning to review Resident Evil Apocalypse for a while now because my initial reaction to this film was not a good one. I wanted to know if I still disliked it as much as I did when I first saw it. Re-watching this second installment in the Resident Evil long running franchise, it suddenly dawned upon me that I needed to do a reassessment of the film; I ended up enjoying it a lot! I guess after having seen six of these Resident Evil films at the hands of various directors, I could see this one and compare it against all the other ones in the franchise, and guess what, this one has come out on top as a very well made entry into this franchise, not the best movie ever made, but certainly better than other films in the franchise in many ways.
The film picks up exactly where the first one left off, with zombies escaping the Umbrella Corporations Racoon City facilities. The undead have spread all throughout the city infecting more civilians. The authorities have locked down the city, every citizen quarantined. No one is allowed to escape! If they try, they risk getting shot down by the police. Meanwhile, Dr. Ashford, the creator of the deadly T-Virus has escaped Racoon City. Problem is that his daughter has been left inside! He contacts Alice to rescue his daughter before the authorities blow up Racoon City to smithereens. Will Alice rescue the little girl in time? What tricks does the Umbrella Corporation have under their sleeves this time?
So what made me change my mind so radically? Well, I think it was the fact that I could see this film within the context of all the other ones and it ended up being better then say, Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), a film I personally ended up not loving for many reasons, too numerous to number here. So what did I like about Apocalypse? Well, one of the first things that I immediately noticed was how refreshing it was to see a Resident Evil film that wasn’t 95% computer images. On Apocalypse things are tangible, there’s sets, there’s props, there’s real stunts performed by real stunt men. I mean I loved the fact that director Alexander Witt decided to shoot almost everything practically, on camera. One of the pluses that Apocalypse has is that it was made in a time when CGI had not yet overtaken the film industry as predominantly as it has now, this was a time when films where still real. Sets are built, explosions are real, stunts are designed and pulled off; this element of Apocalypse comes in direct contrast to the more recent Resident Evil films in which practically everything in the background is computer generated. Nope, this film has a tangibility to it that’s missing from the newer films in the franchise and for that I applaud it.
This film is action packed, and that probably has something to do with the fact that director Alexander Witt had been involved as second unit director on many action films like The Bourne Identity (2003) and Black Hawk Down (2001), Twister (1996) and Speed (1994), so he brought that action movie experience to the table, and looking at Apocalypse now, the stunts on this one are more impressive then other Resident Evil films because they were pulled off for real. I mean, these guys went through the effort of planning these stunts so they could be pulled off in front of the cameras and not inside of a computer. So when you see Alice walking down the side of a building, guns a blazing, they did that for real. When we see Alice running through a hallway with every glass window blowing up, for real. When Alice jumps through the air as a cop car explodes into a ball of flames behind her…done for real! When an actor jumps off a helicopter while shooting his guns…for real as well. I mean, kudos to this production for wanting to go that route, it’s a breath of fresh air; because hey, don’t you just hate it when you’re watching an action film and you can just tell its all computer generated? That doesn’t happen here. This is one o the more action packed films in the franchise, guns are shot almost nonstop all throughout, I liked that about it, this is a no holds barred action film through and through; everything culminating in a big showdown between Alice and the Nemesis. There’s always been a physicality to the Alice character played by Milla Jovovich, but on this one she excels in terms of displaying her fighting abilities and shooting all sorts of guns; all the while never losing her sexiness.
Then of course there’s the Nemesis creature, I just loved how it looks practically exactly like the video game. Actually, when we come down to it, this film has so many visual cues that come straight off of the video game. Certain images and moments can be traced down the first Resident Evil games. The filmmakers really made an effort to incorporate stuff from the games, which is something that the newer films kind of forget about sometimes. In conclusion, this is one of the best in the series in my opinion. When compared to all the others, this one stands on solid ground. Its action packed, Alice is kick ass as she’s ever been, this is actually the film in which she becomes more than human. None of these films have ever been deep, or meaningful, they’ve always been fun action packed and stylish and in that department, Apocalypse delivers.
The one thing I do seem to remember hating was the slow motion/blurry effect we see whenever zombies are shown, I could have done without it, why was it used? I don’t know, but it just doesn’t work for me thanks to that ‘effect’ we never really get a good look at the zombies. I remember hating the ‘token black guy’ in the film played by Mike Epps, I used to think he felt totally out of place on this film, but now I see him as just another crazy character we meet along the way. Bottom line? The film has more good things going for it then bad ones. You look at this film and you feel more effort was put into making it than say Resident Evil Retribution simply because most of it was shot practically, and because they went through all this trouble to film things on camera, kind of reminds me of Poltergeist III (1988) in that sense, yet another film in which the director purposely strived away from telling his story through visual effects. I say give this one a second chance, you just might end up enjoying it.
Rating 3 1/2 out of 5