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DVD Review: Resident Evil – Apocalypse

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If a video game movie is decent, at least enough to earn sufficient cash at the box office 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 any plot of its own. Apocalypse starts and ends with fighting. While there are some superb moments of homage 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 back-story. 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 that fans will mercifully forget if they’re smart.

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 two-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.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    I don’t know if I would call the movie quite that bad. It delivers what I would expect – hordes of zombies, impossible action, leggy heroines and poor dialogue. It’s not Citizen Kane but what is nowadays (other than…well, Citizen Kane, I mean.)

    Lastly I kind of get a kick out of watching them nuke Toronto… sorry it’s actually “Raccoon City”, my mistake.

  • Matt Aron

    I think this and the first film are both excellent. The story is excellent and Nemesis looks great. The overall feel of the film is great aswell. Overall great great great. I can’t wait for the third movie.

  • http://www.communistvampires.com/author.htm Thomas M. Sipos

    Matt: “This is one video game fans will mercifully forget if they’re smart.”

    Guess that means I’m smart, :-)

    I have forgotten the sequel, except that I was bored by it and hated it to the point that I’ll avoid any more films in this franchise

  • Matt Aron

    Matt: “This is one video game fans will mercifully forget if they’re smart.”

    I’m a fan of the games and see them both as seperate from one another. The films are good. Zombie action at it’s best unlike that extremely dull dawn of the dead remake or the annoying Land of the Dead Note. Zombies shouldn’t have any intelligence, it ruins the whole zombie theme.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    See, everyon says “they’re seperate,” and to that I say why are they named the same? If its based off the game, then it should be the game. Giant snakes, spiders, and various other nasty beasties should be in the movie, and they weren’t. All we’re left with is a pale imitation that takes some ideas and does whatever it wants to with the rest.

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason

    For anyone who tries to justify the bastardizations known as the Resident Evil movie i suggest you try reading this first. It’s the unproduced Resident Evil script penned by the lord god almighty, George A. Romero.

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    It was turned down in favour of the one Paul W.S. Anderson penned himself in order to get his wife a role.