Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Or: Technically, the apocalypse happens in the next one, but whatever!
The $33 million budgeted Resident Evil grossed a little over $40 million in the U.S. alone, garnering over $100 million in worldwide admissions, an international trend that repeated itself with subsequent entries in the series. Needless to say, a sequel was eagerly fast-tracked and Apocalypse was unleashed in theaters on September 10, 2004.
Easily the worst of the Resident Evil movies, Apocalypse feels rushed, cheap, and amateurishly acted compared to its predecessor. While Paul W.S. Anderson might get a lot of hate mail for turning promising projects into average movies (see: Soldier), the man clearly has a distinct visual and directorial style all his own. Not so for Apocalypse director Alexander Witt, in his one and only directorial achievement.
A capable second unit director on tons of movies, Witt fails to delivery anything out of the ordinary in Apocalypse. He breaks out all the tools of the trade (slow motion, fast motion, zany camera moves), but the entire movie is devoid of any personal touches one might associate with a better director. Truth be told, I’m surprised the series survived beyond this middling second installment.
Apocalypse is a failure almost across the board. Action sequences are filmed in close-up shaky cam to mask the fact that most of the actors have no idea how to throw a punch, every character aside from Alice is a disposable cliché, and knowing winks at the movie’s target audience fail epically. Actress Sienna Guillory, who portrays Jill Valentine, might look the part, but the director’s decision to dress her up in her video game character’s outfit to appease fans clearly didn’t think things through.
Oh, look! It’s tough, no-nonsense police officer with an attitude Barbie!
One piece of Resident Evil lore that survives the trip between genres mostly intact is the beloved Nemesis creature but, then again, a menacing, hulking, silent beast with a rocket launcher doesn’t exactly have a lot of layers to get lost in translation.
“Hey! Words hurt, you know!?”
Story-wise, RE: Apocalypse seemingly takes place during the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3 and this would be the last time the movie franchise tried to fit in with its video game brethren. A now superhuman Alice teams up with a rag-tag bunch of Raccoon City survivors to seek a way out of the town, now completely overrun with undead and worse.
The cast is all over the place, with Jovovich once again shining brightly, Guillory is stiff and clearly out of her element as Jill Valentine, Oded Fehr, best-known for The Mummy movies, is a welcome addition to the series, but Sandrine Holt, as a screechy reporter ruins every scene she’s in and will somebody please get Mike Epps the hell out of my Resident Evil movie?! Please?
No, no, no! The black guy is supposed to die first! Damn it, Resident Evil: Apocalypse!
The Resident Evil franchise couldn’t have gotten any worse than that. What’s next?
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