Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

*. I began my notes on Resident Evil by remarking that I thought I’d seen it before but that I was mistaken. I’d actually seen this movie before. The only reason I know this is because I remembered the final battle at Toronto’s City Hall. Otherwise I had forgotten everything about this movie. The plot, the characters, the monsters, everything.
*. I don’t think it’s as good as Resident Evil. I thought Milla Jovovich was great in the previous film but there’s less of her here. Instead they decided to double-up on the Lara Croft figure, giving Alice (Jovovich) a partner in the figure of Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). The plot is even more fragmented than this implies, though with the same device of a countdown to a bomb going off as used in Resident Evil.
*. It’s more of a traditional zombie apocalypse movie, though again they’re not calling those infected with the T-virus zombies. But that’s what they are. The basic idea is the reverse siege, where the heroes are trapped inside with the monsters.
*. Despite the table being set several times, the traditional zombie feast is eschewed and it’s not a gory film. Which makes the nudity surprising.
*. Directed by Alexander Witt, not Paul W. S. Anderson (who wrote the screenplay). I would defy anyone to be able to tell the difference.
*. Most fans consider it to be the worst of the series, though that’s not a universally held opinion. Roger Ebert (who was not a fan): “The movie is an utterly meaningless waste of time. There was no reason to produce it, except to make money, and there is no reason to see it, except to spend money. It is a dead zone, a film without interest, wit, imagination or even entertaining violence and special effects.” That’s pretty bad. But it still got half a star!
*. Personally, ranking the Resident Evil movies seems to me like an exercise even more pointless than ranking the films in the Saw franchise. I mean, they really are pretty much the same.
*. For a 2004 movie, the second instalment in a series that had several more episodes to run, perhaps the thing that strikes me the most about it is the curious ’80s vibe. Maybe it’s the way the Nemesis creature reminded me of the Toxic Avenger. Maybe it’s those triple spinning back kicks Alice does that look so much like Jean-Claude Van Damme’s finishing move. Maybe it’s the changes in film speed (which are irritating), or the shattered choreography of the fight scenes. I don’t know. But everything here seems like a throwback.
*. I can’t think of much else to say. I don’t think it’s aged well, but it’s cheesy and fun if you’re not too picky. The gang play better than the first time around, and the ending made it clear that the Alice Project was going to be a long haul. But who was counting the sequels? No matter their number, I’ll soon have forgotten all about this film, again.

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