Thursday, November 8, 2012

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

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


Jack Thursby said...

Yeah, Apocalypse is probably my least favourite of the series (though I haven't seen Retribution yet). I thought the way Alice's "powers" were introduced was kind of clumsy and the action got a little bit too silly at times.

It also wasn't as memorable as the original movie. I wish Anderson had stayed behind the camera.

I appreciate they translated Nemesis exactly from the video games but I thought the design was very unintimidating with his big clomping platform boots.

Still as a bit of switch-your-brain-off entertainment you can do far worse.

Kev D. said...

This gets a bad wrap, but I thought it was entertaining as Hell.

Franco Macabro said...

I used to think the same way, but for some reason, this recent viewing turned me around, I think I enjoyed the little amount of CGI in the film.

The action was none stop though, loved that shot of Alice walking down the building...pretty cool stuff, and the scenes of Alice crashing her bike through the church windows.

Agree, the first is still the best, but of the rest, I have to say this one rocks, this of course comes from a guy who's enjoyed this whole series of films, even the last one which I thought was kind of thin.

Nemesis was cool in my book, I loved everything about the character...

Agree, this whole series has never been too intelligent, its just stylish mindless zombie fun, and as such Apocalypse did alright in my book.

Kev D: Right? I mean I suddenly realized I was actually enjoying this movie that I remembered loathing before? Weird..

SFF said...


So glad to see a reassessment by you on this. We are very much in line on it.

I'm not sure if the film simply didn't deliver for you after seeing the original against your expectations or if it was something else entirely, but I have ALWAYS, ALWAYS been an advocate for this film as a solid entry [as you read over my way as well].

I am right there with you on Nemesis. A Brilliant interpretation of the creature straight from the video game as well as Milla running as she is fired upon by the choppers - all right from the game.

I completely understand Jack T's point and agree with him to a certain degree that the "powers" introduction is a bit clumsy.

Otherwise, it's a refreshingly good picture with real action and hand made effects apart from those lickers.

I do think NEMESIS really is a terrific creation and he is a big part of why I enjoyed the picture so much.

The whole Alice versus Nemesis thread is just a little different from the other pictures. Though Extinction and the Axe Man from Afterlife have their moments.

JUst good solid horror and zombie fun, but I still give the original the edge. Nevertheless, Apocalypse gets an unfairly bad wrap [just as Kev D noted] and I stand by the picture as a solid installment of these first four films.

SO nice to see how you had a change of heart on this from your original viewing. Interesting.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to perform every sex-act in the known universe on Milla Jovovich (as the bird was in 1993 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously).

jimmie t. murakami said...

As far as i`m concerned every film in the Resident Evil series has been superb, none of them have been disapointing in any way.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

The stunningly gorgeous Sienna Guillory was born in the same year as Milla Jovovich (1975), and guess what...thats guessed it...first time: I want to bugger Sienna Guillory (as the bird was in 1993 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously).

Franco Macabro said...

Sci-Fi Fanatic: After I saw the first Resident Evil, the ending just left me with my jaw dropped open, I was expecting for the sequel to continue with something more along the lines of Romero's Day of the Dead...I mean that whole scene with Racoon City looking so desolate...I thought it would be a more post apocalyptic film, I think this is what initially dissapointed me.

But this is something that Anderson does a lot, he writes these endings that leave you wanting more...then when he starts the next film, it could go in ANY direction; leas of all what you'd expect.

But yeah, I guess putting all that aside, I just enjoyed the movie for what it was, without any expectations and found it to be a decent RE film.

Agree with you and Kev D., this one gets a bad rap, and it doesnt deserve it. I think people will continue to notice this as time goes by, the more recent films will no doubt make people re-visit Apocalypse.

Jimmie t. murakami: I hear ya, to me they are all great fun, flaws and all.

Unknown said...

Alto, I haven't seen RETRIBUTION yet, APOCALYPSE is probably my least fave of the series. That being said, I do enjoy it quite a bit just not as much. I do really like the look of APOCALYPSE which is pretty distinctive from the others in the series.

Franco Macabro said...

It's true what you say about the look of Apocalypse J.D., Apocalypse is a lot bleaker, as opposed to the other films which have an "eye candy" quality to them. In comparison, Apocalypse is a lot darker.


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