A quickie follow-up to the 2002 surprise hit based on a series of video games, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is silly, disposable and if given an excessive amount of thought, does not really make a lot of sense. But if viewed in the right frame of mind, it is a lot of fun.
It is at least as good as most of the mainstream action films released this past summer, even if it does occasionally borrow too much from The Matrix. It should please fans of zombie violence or those in search of a fast-paced action diversion.
Resident Evil may dissatisfy hardcore fans of the video game. Aside from a few basic plot points and character names, both films have deviated far from the games. But for a horror fan or action movie junkie, there should be more than enough gore and butt kicking.
Indeed, a loose thread of a plot holds this movie together. Alice, the hero from the first movie played by Milla Jovovich, has returned. She narrowly escaped the mob of zombies and the Umbrella Corporation’s underground lab, The Hive, in the first film, and she doesn’t get time to catch her breath before being thrown right back into harm’s way.
The virus has reached the surface of Raccoon City, and the corporation ordered the whole city to be quarantined. Alice meets up with a small group of survivors, and with the assistance of an Umbrella Corporation scientist (Jared Harris), they attempt to make their way out of the city before they become dinner for a growing horde of zombies.
Predictably, those lesser-known actors are gradually picked off one by one. Besides Jovovich, the only performer of any note is Sienna Guillory. Playing Jill Valentine, a character from the video game, Guillory manages to be both tough and exceedingly beautiful. Mike Epps (Next Friday) also has a small part in the movie, sleepwalking through the movie doing his usual shtick, cursing a lot and acting hyper. What is unusual about his appearance is the small size of his role, because next to Jovovich, he is arguably the biggest star in the movie.
Original director Paul W.S. Anderson backed out of this project to do Alien Vs. Predator, although he still gets a writing credit. Stepping in for him is Alexander Witt, a veteran director of photography on many big-budget action films (Pirates of the Caribbean, XXX).
Witt makes his directorial debut with Resident Evil. The two directors seem to have a comparable style, so Witt did no miss a beat. Besides, people do not expect artsy camera angles, they come to see some serious zombie violence and scantily clad heroines. On that front, the movie delivers quite nicely. There are so many big budget action films that despite their $100 million plus budgets, they are still boring. If nothing else, this movie succeeds in that respect. It is never boring, and for those who are not expecting an Academy Award winner, it should be a good time.
Chuck DelRoss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.