Sunday, July 02, 2017
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
DIRECTOR: Alexander Witt
WRITER: Paul W.S. Anderson
Matthew G. Taylor
After the tragic events that took place in The Hive. Alice now awakens to find that the T-Virus has escaped the underground facility and been unleashed upon Raccoon City. The military is quickly sent in to try and contain the zombie epidemic. The Umbrella Corp. also has their own sinister plans to stop the virus spreading by wiping Raccoon City off the map. A group of survivors must band together and escape from Raccoon City before it's too late. Little do they realise that they've also activated the Nemesis program which is sent into eliminate Alice.
When the first Resident Evil closes with the character of Matt being dragged away by the Umbrella Corp. and taken into the Nemesis Program. I was so hyped to see what they would eventually do with the character. Nemesis is one of those big baddies that feels almost undefeatable in the video game. It was an excellent way to keep fans like myself excited about the future of the film series, and I was looking forward to seeing what they would do with the next movie in the franchise.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse is where the film franchise distances itself away from the more horror elements of the games and heads into a more action orientated setting. Apocalypse is really the catalyst for the series turning away from horror into a vastly more action sort of feel. A sequel was always going to be bigger and more epic as the virus is no longer contained. This is clear from the final scene in the first film. Moving out of The Hive and onto the streets of Raccoon City really does lessen all the tension.
After rewatching Resident Evil: Apocalypse for the first time in years, I can't say that my experience was a positive one. While not the worst film in the Resident Evil series, this is a far cry from the first film. The sequel has a lot of stuff to enjoy about it, but you can see where the sequel falls short. Apocalypse has a lot of problems, and this falls back on both the choices of replacement director Alexander Witt and Paul W.S. Anderson's writing. I'm sure Paul W.S. Anderson had a lot of input while on set, but this is one messy movie.
What Apocalypse gets right is that after the modest success of the first Resident Evil film, a lot of the movie is vastly improved on a visual effects level. Where Paul W.S. Anderson may have been restricted by budget constraints on the first film. This can clearly be seen in the creature effects, Apocalypse is vastly superior. The Lickers look much better, Nemesis looks fantastic, the zombie Doberman's are also improved, and we have a lot more special effects being used to enhance some of the massive set-pieces. The city being wiped out by a nuclear missile is a standout moment.
Another element of the film that is still solid is Milla Jovovich as Alice. Being that this franchise revolves around her character, she is still the heart of the film series. I love seeing Alice take on Nemesis. A big nostalgic element for me is seeing Nemesis in his full get up, blasting away at S.T.A.R.S members which never gets old. Both elements, though, feel like a double-edge-sword in the sequel. While they are a lot of fun and a high-point of the second entry, they also bring into question a few negatives about the sequel.
With Alice being front and centre, this limits the character time of Jill Valentine. While we get to witness Jill Valentine being handy with a gun, her character sadly feels like she is given less screen time and moments to really shine here. All the moments she has, see's Alice come in and save her. Jill Valentine is one of the major players from the games and sadly, Sienna Guillory is left to stand on the sidelines so Milla Jovovich can be the star. I'd have loved to see Jill Valentine be a major player as her character is an integral part of the video games.
Having one of the scariest and most unstoppable villains like Nemesis in the movie, I wanted to see him as the major threat. While he has a few scenes within the sequel where he poses a threat to Alice, he really is underused. He gets limited screen time and basically turns good towards the end of the film. This is not what I wanted to see as a fan of the game. A wasted opportunity. Where the Silent Hill film adaptation had turned Pyramid Head into a completely scary and menacing figure who tore the flesh off people, Nemesis was sadly almost comic by comparison.
Alexander Witt who takes over the directing duties from Paul W.S. Anderson is a solid and capable action director who can clearly do big-budget action movies. Early on in the sequel, I was enjoying some of the cinematography and camera work here, but this quickly descends into some extremely terrible choices by him. There is polished camera work in the bigger set-pieces, but his choice to go and use that awful blurry and disjointed 'Zombie POV' during all the attack scenes was horrible. The editing is so frantic as well. It made a lot of the fight scenes feel unfocused and choppy.
Lastly, the gore scares, and tension are basically non-existent in the sequel. We have a few sequences that hint at what could've been, but I feel maybe the producers and studio wanted to see the movie make big bucks, so they toned down a lot of the gore. Compared to the first film, you can feel that this movie is cut in a way that makes the violence and blood, less impactful. The movie also suffers from being scare-free. This movie doesn't have an ounce of tension or suspense. With a major villain like Nemesis in the movie, the sequel should've been terrifying.
DEATH TOLL: 120 (Estimated)
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A Licker attacks a scientist who is entering The Hive.
- Two guards are killed in a car accident.
- News footage of zombie attacks.
- Zombies are shot in the head in a police station.
- A woman is bitten by a zombie and jumps off a building.
- Hordes of zombies are shot.
- A lot of people are bitten by zombies.
- Lots of zombies necks are broken in a graveyard.
- A zombie is hit by a car.
- Nemesis is crushed by a fiery helicopter crash.
- A Licker is blown up by a motorcycle.
- Someone is eaten by a Licker.
- A priest is feeding his zombie sister human remains.
- A Licker is shot in the head with a shotgun.
- Twelve S.T.A.R.S members are mowed down by Nemesis.
- An entire city is wiped out by a nuclear bomb.
- Many people are eaten by zombies.
- Nemesis is impaled on a piece of metal.
- Lots of soldiers are shot.
- Zombie Dobermans are blown up.
- A zombie cook has it's neck broken.
- A soldier has his neck torn out by zombie Dobermans.
- Someone is electrocuted.
- Someone is thrown out of a helicopter and breaks their ankles.
- Someone is impaled by flying shrapnel.
- A weather lady is eaten by zombie school children.
- Someone breaks their finger back into place.
- Nemesis has his ankles shot out.
- Someone is seen bleeding out of their eyes and nose.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse has some moments. The sequel is bigger, the action set-pieces are grand, and we have a lot more creature feature effects. Milla Jovovich is still the standout and holds the story together. Sadly, with all those elements, they aren't enough to drag this movie into fresh territory for me. Some terrible directing choices made by Alexander Witt, not enough Jill Valentine or Nemesis and Mike Epps playing the worst character in the entire series makes this sequel feel very inferior to the original.