Review: “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” (Film)

Well, I thought that I’d take another look at a film that I really enjoyed when I was a teenager. I am, of course, talking about a film from 2004 called “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”.

Back then, I’d really been looking forward to this film because, although the previous “Resident Evil” film was different to what I’d expected, this sequel looked like it would be more faithful to the source material. Needless to say, I ended up seeing it at the cinema and it really knocked my socks off 🙂 So much so that I actually ended up getting it on DVD a year or two later.

But, now that I’m somewhat older, I began to wonder if the film was as good as I remembered. So, I thought that I’d take another look at it.

Needless to say, this review may contain some SPOILERS. Likewise, the film itself contains some FLICKERING LIGHTS/IMAGES (but I don’t know if they’re fast or intense enough to cause problems).

“Resident Evil: Apocalypse” is a sci-fi/action/horror movie that is both a sequel to 2002’s “Resident Evil” and a partial adaptation of an amazing 1990s videogame called “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis“. Although it can be watched as a stand-alone film (since it contains a recap at the beginning), it is best watched after seeing/playing the two things I mentioned earlier.

The events of “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” are set into motion when a team of scientists from the nefarious Umbrella Corporation make the questionable decision to re-open the sealed underground bunker from the first film. Needless to say, a horde of zombies pour out and – within hours – Racoon City is in the middle of a full-blown zombie apocalypse.

Hmm… It’s probably because the science team’s budget was spent on silly wrist-mounted computers rather than on some kind of rudimentary zombie-proof barrier.

After evacuating some of their key scientists, Umbrella decides to seal off the town. Unfortunately for the zombies, elite police officer Jill Valentine is stranded inside the town with a reporter and another elite officer called Peyton.

The zombies really don’t stand a chance…

Meanwhile, some of Umbrella’s elite private troops, led by the rugged Carlos Olivera, realise that the company has deserted them. Whilst all of this is going on, the automated systems in the city hospital release Alice (from the first film) from stasis.

Cue a vaguely “28 Days Later” – like scene (that re-uses some footage from the previous film)

And, if that wasn’t enough, one of the evacuated scientists realises that his daughter has been stranded inside the city. Hacking into the city’s CCTV and phone network, he contacts the survivors and offers them a deal. He’ll guide them out of the city, if they rescue his daughter….

One of the first things that I will say about this film is that it is best watched when you are a teenager. It is pretty much the textbook definition of a silly, cheesy “so bad that it’s good” action movie. But, even so, what a silly film this is!

Fun fact: This melodramatic explosion comes from an airbourne motorbike that has been machine-gunned after a monster has climbed onto it in mid-air.

Everything from the brilliantly cheesy dialogue to the ludicrous action sequences to the ridiculously rapid-fire editing is totally and utterly silly. Yet, it still works! Although there’s a bit of suspense, characterisation and backstory – most of the film just consists of the characters fighting zombies and monsters in a variety of creatively melodramatic ways.

And, yes, this is one of the more boring combat scenes in the film!

Occasionally, the film shakes things up by having the characters fight evil henchmen too.

And, yet, this works! Although the film tries to have a few serious dramatic moments, it really doesn’t take itself ultra-seriously. It’s a silly, mindless action movie that knows that it’s a silly, mindless action movie.

In other words, it’s pretty much a parody of the genre. All of the characters can shoot with pinpoint accuracy, there’s never a shortage of guns, the laws of physics are more like suggested guidelines, there’s at least one explosion every 10-20 minutes or so and there are plenty of “badass” one-liners too.

This film is gloriously immature and doesn’t have an original bone in it’s body. But, this doesn’t matter, because it is fun.

Like this melodramatic headline. Somehow, despite a full-blown zombie apocalypse, the local newspaper still has time to print an extra edition..

Or this “totally not influenced by ‘The Matrix’ ” choice of weapons. And the “I can’t believe it isn’t ‘The Matrix’ ” slow-motion bullet scene in another part of the film. But, well, wouldn’t “The Matrix” be cooler if there were zombies?

In many ways, this film is both similar to and different from the action movies of the 1990s. Whilst it includes more of a 1990s-style focus on team-based storytelling, the team in question contains several cynical, near-immortal, individualistic warriors.

Likewise, whilst the film contains the kind of highly-unrealistic premise that would have been more at home during the more innocent days of the 1990s, the emotional tone of the film is more in keeping with the “serious” mood of the early-mid 2000s.

Yes, it’s a team-based action movie with an unrealistic premise. But it has a gloomier 2000s-style emotional tone and more 2000s-style characters.

Interestingly, this film both is and isn’t faithful to the story of “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis”. Yes, the Nemesis appears – but he has a different origin story (and a slightly different personality). Jill and Carlos also both look a bit like their videogame counterparts, but their personalities are a lot more aggressive and “badass” when compared to the game. There’s also a sequence that has been almost directly lifted from the intro movie from “Resident Evil: Code Veronica” (but with Alice instead of Claire Redfield) too.

Yay! It’s a homage to the real Resident Evil 4 🙂

If anything, this film is more of a sequel to the first “Resident Evil” film than an adaptation of the classic “Resident Evil” videogames. But, unlike the first film, it’s a ridiculously fast-paced “badass” sci-fi action movie rather than a slow-paced, atmospheric and suspenseful horror story.

There’s no need for carefully conserving ammunition, puzzle-solving or methodical exploration here!

Surprisingly, for a film based on a well-known zombie horror franchise, there’s relatively little in the way of gore. Whilst the film certainly isn’t bloodless, there’s more of a focus on fast-paced action than on grisly horror.

Even so, there are still a few grotesque moments here, such as a classroom of zombie children, a decaying skull or a character who has kept one of their zombified relatives alive. But, these are almost the exception rather than the rule.

For example, a classic zombie-movie style scene where a character is devoured by a horde of the undead is almost completely bloodless.

In terms of the characters, Jill and Carlos are just generic “badass” characters a lot of the time. Alice actually gets a bit of characterisation but, for the most part, she’s another “badass” character. The film’s various supporting characters also help to add a bit of individuality, drama, humour and/or suspense to the film too.

In terms of lighting, special effects and set design, this film still stands up reasonably well to this day. Yes, there’s some mildly dated CGI effects in a few of the monster-based scenes. But, many of the effects are timeless practical effects. The pyrotechnics and fight choreography are also really good too. Plus, the Nemesis looks suitably formidable too.

Or, more accurately, he looks a little bit like something from an Iron Maiden album cover. Which is also awesome 🙂

CGI effects aside, the only thing that will really tip you off that this is a film from 14 years ago is the fact that the characters use payphones more often than mobile phones.

Plus, since this is a film in the horror genre, the lighting looks absolutely brilliant too. Likewise, the set design is a videogame-like mixture of realistic and futuristic locations too.

The best lighting in the film has to be the 1980s-style neon lighting here.

The film also makes extensive use of blue/orange lighting too.

However, in terms of editing, this film often uses a ridiculously fast-paced editing style (especially near the beginning), which makes everything seem a little bit trite and abrupt at times. Still, at a lean 90 minutes (approx) in length, this film never gets dull, bloated or boring.

In terms of music, whilst the music in the film wasn’t that memorable, one interesting fact is that the music credits at the end of the film list Cradle Of Filth’s “Nymphetamine” as part of the soundtrack. Although this song is absolutely brilliant, I can’t remember actually hearing it during the film. But, since Cradle’s “Nymphetamine” album came out the same year that the film did (and the soundtrack is apparently from Roadrunner Records), it’s possible that they just added it to the CD soundtrack to promote the album.

It’s cool that “Nymphetamine” is in the credits, but I don’t remember hearing it during the film though 😦

All in all, this is a gloriously silly and wonderfully mindless “so bad that it’s good” action movie that is a lot of fun to watch.

It’s a film sequel that is also an adaptation of a videogame sequel. So, yes, you’ll enjoy this film the most if you are aged between about thirteen and seventeen. But, even if you’re re-watching it as a slightly more cynical and (somehow) more mature adult, then there’s still lots of fun to be had here. If you go into it expecting ninety minutes of thoroughly silly fun, then you won’t be disappointed.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least three and a half.

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