DVD Review: Resident Evil - Apocalypse

If a video game movie is good enough to earn enough to produce a sequel, this is usually the point where you know there's no chance at success. After utter duds like Mortal Kombat Annihilation, Resident Evil Apocalypse unsurprisingly follows suit for gaming movie sequels. The problem is that the original wasn't that great to begin with, and if you haven't seen that, be sure to avoid this on all counts.

While the initial moments are stripped from the first film giving the condensed version of the story, things don't stop to add in a story of any kind. Apocalypse starts and ends with fighting. While there are some superb homage's to the games, all of this intercut action is impossible to follow. There are numerous fights going on, with explosions, gore, and zombies running loose. It's complete chaos for at least 10 minutes, and it gives the viewer nothing to work with.

Only one character returns, again played by Milla Jovovich, only this time she's been infected by the T-Virus. This little doozy of chemical warfare has turned the entire city into the walking dead, but she's been granted super powers. All of this is briefly explained and then forgotten to the action, most of which ends up so over the top, you can only shake your head and wonder why they ever stopped for dialogue.

Given the single character link, it should be expected that the new entrants have some kind of backstory. Instead, gaming fans alone will recognize the Jill Valentine character since the film cuts to a scene of her walking in the middle of a gunfight. There's little sense of flow or pacing, and most of the movie is impossible to follow.

The giant Nemesis, an eerie and creepy hulking monstrosity that made the video game a classic has been tossed into Apocalypse. Here is where being loyal to the game in character design backfires and changing its motives destroys it. What looked stunning on the Playstation and the later ports looks unbelievably cheap on screen. The oversized boots and rocket launcher are hilarious, even though they're accurate. The writers then take this creature and turn him into nothing but a walking ammo case. There's no sense of dread, fear, or power.

Maybe the quick start and action would be ok if it did anything original. As it stands, fights are bland, random, and dull. There's nothing here that hasn't been seen before in countless other zombie movies. As if this wasn't enough, the film plays down to its audience with an impossible number of flashbacks reminding the viewer of a past incident about every 15-minutes.

Resident Evil Apocalypse doesn't fall under the realm of bad movies. It comes close to earning the title of obnoxious, which is one step below annoying. It's not fun or original, and it completely misses the point of the franchise it's based on. This is one video game fans will mercifully forget if they're smart. (* out of *****)

Video quality may seem open to failure here, as the opening and brightly colored scenes turn murky and dark. The same quality is nicely maintained throughout, with this sharp, clean transfer. Compression is well hidden while the scenes that allow color outside of deep blues are gorgeous to look at. (****)

For this all-out action flick, 5.1 audio is pushed, and the surround usage makes the movies only superbly crafted scene inside of an abandoned church better than it actually is. This is definitely one of those movies used to show off some new speakers, while the subwoofer is left behind. A few explosions lack the punch they should have, but the ensuing debris makes fine work of the sound field. (****)

This review is based on the first DVD release of this movie, while a separate 2-disc edition provides far more. The only additions on this release are three separate commentary tracks covering the main parts of the production. The director Paul Anderson and crew start things off, the actors take over the second time out, and the writers attempt to save face in the third. Skip this set and pick up the two-disc set, which contains outtakes, even though the movie feels like a full-length one itself. (**)

Considering this sequel proved successful (especially in the home market), we'll be on the receiving end of a sequel in 2007. With a working title of Resident Evil: Extinction, we can only hope that one lives up to its name. If that's what it takes to prevent this from ever happening again, so be it.

Comments (2)

Hey you forgot that it did have one small redeeming scene. Everything that happened in the church was priceless.

Surrounded by lurkers, no ammo, Jill in a blue top, everything was great right up to the point where that stupid bitch came flying through the window.

Mr. Anderson take some advice, if your wife ain't screwing you don't make a shitty movie like this starring her just to put her in the mood.

I saw this with friends while it was still in theatres, and I think you hit it right on the head with this review. It took itself too seriously, when it should have just given up and gone for the campy dialogue.

The theatre owner wasn't too happy to have 10 college kids laughing through what was supposed to be his most profitable movie of the fall :(.

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