Review: Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Directed by: Alexander Witt | 94 minutes | action, horror, thriller, science fiction | Actors: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Sophie Vavasseur, Razaaq Adoti, Jared Harris, Mike Epps, Geoffrey Pounsett, Zack Ward, Iain Glen, Dave Nichols, Stefan Hayes, Matthew G. Taylor, Megan Fahlenbock

Gorgeous women, an arsenal of weapons that would make the Terminator jealous and a hard-hitting metal soundtrack: that’s ‘Resident Evil: Apocalypse’. In this murdered teenage dream, the screeching testosterone is almost tangible. Unfortunately, the makers of this product forgot to provide all this with a storyline. Ah yes, mistake.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse is the second installment in the zombie series. The film series is based on the video game series of the same name, which now consists of four parts. The computer games are inspired by zombie films by directors such as Lucio Fulci and George A. Romero. Are you still there?

In ‘Apocalypse’ the story continues. In part one, we saw how heroine Alice was left alone in the small town of Raccoon City. The town is crawling with zombies and it’s up to Alice and her new allies, including game icon Claire Redfield (Guillory), to stop the undead. To make matters worse, ‘Nemesis’, a trigger-happy super zombie, is after Alice’s blood.

You don’t have to expect intellectual considerations and literary dialogues in this pumped-up zombie film. What these movies are all about is action. And there’s plenty of action in ‘Resident Evil 2’. Unfortunately, the stunts are portrayed in such a bad way that even inveterate action freaks can’t get much pleasure from this film.

Somehow director Alexander Witt thought it would be stylish to frame the spectacle with dynamic camera angles. Unfortunately, the best man has gone a bit too far in that regard. The consequence? A swishing camera that makes the violent scenes seem quite chaotic and messy. The metal soundtrack should accompany the visuals, but instead of becoming an entertaining action movie, the production gets bogged down in an ADHD-esque music video. It looks suspiciously like the cameraman is having a good time pogoing along to the hard rock songs.

In between the muddled violence, Witt tries to tell another story. A story bursting with plot holes, illogical situations and wafer-thin characters. The story may not have much to say, but a slightly tighter direction would have done the film no harm. Scenes don’t align and character development is questionable to say the least. The protagonists single-handedly slaughter a village, which leaves them completely cold. Only when a close colleague turns into a zombie do the ladies thaw.

The typical ‘larger than life’ characters are not even the problem of this film. It is the effect of it that irritates. The cast lacks the talent to make anything of their one-dimensional roles. Okay, fashion models Milla Jovovich and Sienna Guillory are a joy to watch, but they have the charisma of a sack of potatoes. The one-liners the ladies fire at you lack panache and spunk.

To interrupt the action, B actor Mike Epps has been brought in to provide a comedic touch. Epps plays a bluffing wanabe gangster with a big mouth, but a small heart. In short: the stereotypical image of the African-American is once again being used. Epps causes quite a bit of irritation with his weak playing and lame one-liners. The humor doesn’t show itself well and quickly gets on your nerves, because concepts like ‘comedic timing’ and ‘enthusiasm’ do not appear in this action hiccup.

In addition to the humor, the zombies also come off rather poorly. The stumbling undead play second fiddle. The majority of the film consists of brawls with a gang of mercenaries targeting Alice and her companions. In between you can also see how ‘Nemesis’ trudges along after Alice, occasionally bombarding her with rockets and bullets. However, it never gets exciting, because you feel left out by the cold and distant way in which Witt presents his film to you.

Not that the distant appearance of the film matters much: the story is so cliché that it leaves you cold. Genetic manipulations, implemented viruses and mutants: all the chewed-up plot elements from just about the entire horror and science fiction history are shown. In addition, you can already count in advance which characters you will see again in the sequel. There is no doubt that there will be a third part.

Is there nothing positive to say about ‘Resident Evil: Apocalypse’? Frankly not. Okay, actress Guillory looks a lot like Claire Redfield you know from the video games. ‘Nemesis’ also looks believable and closely resembles its digital counterpart. And if we are looking for positive points in this disastrous film, then the metal soundtrack should not go unmentioned. Hard-hitting acts such as Slipknot, Rammstein and Rob Zombie provide an adrenaline-pumping musical accompaniment.

But only some nice pictures and a strong soundtrack don’t make a good film. Something that Witt didn’t understand. ‘Resident Evil: Apocalypse’ is not a movie about zombies, but for zombies. And that could never have been the intention, could it?

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