Turn Back The Clock
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Distributed By: Screen Gems
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Iím not a huge fan of the zombie genre of horror films, but something about the Resident Evil films keeps me coming back for more. Perhaps itís the ways in which they try to stay true to the video game, despite the tweaking of the storylines. Perhaps itís because of the action in the films or the way the writers have made me become vested in the characters in the film. Maybe itís the fact that the zombies in this film are continually evolving. Or maybe itís just that I would like to see the Umbrella Corporation get its just desserts. Either way, I have seen every live action Resident Evil film to date more than once. This time around, Iíd like to discuss the second movie in the Resident Evil franchise, Apocalypse.
Milla Jovovich is back as Alice, a former security employee of the Umbrella Corporation and survivor of the disaster at The Hive, an underground laboratory which did research on the T-Virus, a genetic virus intended for use in the military. The virus infected everyone in The Hive, reanimating the dead and thus, unleashing a zombie horde on the team of commandos sent in to investigate the incident by the Umbrella Corporation. The only two survivors of the incident are Alice and Matt and both are taken to a secret facility in Raccoon City for further research and experimentation. Matt was already infected with the virus on arrival, but the lab techs at the facility purposefully inject the virus into Alice. Somehow the virus bonds with her blood giving her capabilities like super speed and agility, among others.
Meanwhile, another team is sent into The Hive and unfortunately unleashes the T-Virus on the city itself. With the city under siege by the infected, the Umbrella Corporation establishes a security perimeter to maintain safety while extracting some of its more important and influential employees. Police Officer Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and her friend Peyton Welles (Razaaq Adoti) try to leave the city, but are stopped at the bridge as Umbrella imposes the quarantine perimeter. In another part of Raccoon City, a team of Umbrella paramilitary are dropped into the heart of the city with orders to rescue all uninfected citizens. They soon realize that they have been sent on a suicide mission.
This is when Alice finally makes an appearance. While Valentine and Welles, now joined by disgraced reporter Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt) and former street thug L.J. Wayne (Mike Epps), attempt to hold off a scary new T-virus mutation inside a church, Alice comes to their rescue, crashing through a stained glass window on a motorcycle to take out the ďLickersĒ. The group join forces and eventually are approached to conduct a rescue mission. It would seem that the daughter of Dr. Charles Ashford, creator of the T-Virus, is stuck inside of her school. If Alice and her friends help his daughter escape, he will ensure their safe extraction out of Raccoon City, but they have to hurry. Umbrella plans to nuke the city to stop the spread of the virus.
He offers the same deal to the military operatives and the two groups join forces to achieve their goal. The team must take on a whole school of zombies just to get to one little girl who may or may not have become one of them. And they must do this knowing that the Umbrella Corporation has unleashed the Nemesis Project. Formerly known as Matt, Nemesis is a laboratory engineered and controlled bio-organic weapon with orders to kill Alice. Can our heroes find Angela Ashford (Sophie Vavassuer) and get to the rendezvous point without getting bitten by a zombie or killed by Nemesis before the nuke deadline?
The action and drama in Resident Evil: Apocalypse is intense. This film was styled to look a great deal like the video game, with beings of every walk of life roaming the streets as zombies. They come out of nowhere - darkness is a key factor here. And the music lends itself to the intensity of the action. As always, Milla Jovovich is amazing in this film. Her character is one tough cookie, but there is a vulnerability there and Jovovich portrays her perfectly. Sienna Guillory is a great addition to the Resident Evil cast as Jill Valentine, a fan favorite of the Resident Evil games. Having studied the character by playing the games, Guillory has Jill Valentine down from the attitude to the moves.
Oded Fehr is not only nice to look at, but a great addition to the film as Carlos Olivera, yet another character from the games. A member of the Umbrella Corps paramilitary, Oded Fehrís character gets to do some fantastic stunts and play with some terrific weapons. He also doubles as a possible love interest for Alice. Surprisingly, I enjoyed comedian Mike Epps in this film. He provided comic relief in what is otherwise a very intense rollercoaster ride.
There are many gamers out there who scoff at the Resident Evil film franchise, citing that Alice is a created character and that the storyline of the game has been changed for the film. While that is true, the creators of the films do try to maintain some of the integrity of the video game. In Apocalypse, main characters from the games not only make an appearance, but are an integral part of the story. By taking things into Raccoon City, the creators of the film could replicate many scenes from the games themselves. And by activating the Nemesis program, they bring in a favorite among Resident Evil gamers everywhere - one of those extremely difficult to kill creatures that inhabit the realm of the video game.
The storyline of the film does contain a hole or two, but the action is so intense, from the beginning of the film to the end, that one can overlook that. And the holes are small compared to the story at large. I do like the flashbacks to the original movie and the fact that Nemesis has the same color eyes as Matt, reminding you that this was once a human being.
The Special Edition DVD offers up two discs in some pretty neat artistic packaging. The first disc features the film and commentaries by actors, filmmakers and writers. The second disc is packed with bonus features, including twenty deleted scenes, a poster gallery, an outtake reel and numerous featurettes. Game Over: Resident Evil Reanimated is a six-part ďMaking ofĒ documentary which contains quite a bit of interesting information, from the selection of the characters to the film locations to the special effects and story writing. There are a lot of background things to be learned in this documentary, such as the actors tried to do as much of their own stunts as possible, Milla suggested that Raccoon City be in the midst of a heat wave to justify the outfits warn by the characters, the zombie boot camp run by dance choreographers hired to make certain that every zombie in the film moved around the city and interacted with their surroundings in the same way. Corporate Malfeasance is a scary featurette that marks similarities between the Umbrella Corporation and the huge corporations we rely on in the real world. Game Babes is a featurette on the emergence of females in huge action film roles. Symphony of Evil is a featurette about the special effects used in the film. If you are into extras as much as I am, this version of the film on DVD is quite plentiful on that score.
The first time I saw Resident Evil: Apocalypse, I had mixed feelings about the film, but after seeing it a couple of times I realized how this film sought to solidify the tie between the games and the films. I like how the ending of each film in the genre is open ended, pretty much ensuring that there will be a sequel. Alice may be a completely original creation for the films, but the writers and Milla Jovovich have made her someone we can relate to and become vested in. We want her to win and we root for her survival against Umbrella Corp. This second film solidifies her in that role and offers up quite a bit for the nay-saying gamers out there as well. I enjoyed this film so much that, after watching it again to complete my article, I decided I simply had to watch its sequel, Extinction, again. I just couldnít get enough!