Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr
Director: Alexander Witt
Running Time: 94 mins
Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a British/French/German film and the sequel to Resident Evil. After surviving the ordeal at The Hive, Alice awakes in Raccoon City, which has become overrun by zombies. Coming across a small group of survivors of the city’s chaos, she works to escape Raccoon City before it is destroyed by a nuclear bomb.
At this rate, these films are quickly becoming real guilty pleasures of mine. Just like its predecessor, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is by no means a great film, due to a ridiculously thin story, iffy directing, and the fact that I’m still not quite sure how serious it is about itself. That said, it’s yet another brilliantly enjoyable popcorn action movie, providing all of the dumb, preposterous stuff that’s enough to make you laugh and smile for its entire duration.
So, much like the first movie, the main reason that I had such a good time with Apocalypse was because of how silly it is. Managing to move from a very contained story to a much wider-scale one, I was impressed to see how this film built on the world built in the first movie, but there’s still nothing better about it than watching Milla Jovovich do backflips and shoot zombies in the head.
If there’s one part of the movie that’s a huge improvement over the first, it’s the production value. Jumping leaps and bounds, the film feels far less dated than its predecessor, despite being only two years newer, and that translates well into providing a more convincing and occasionally less laughable watch, occasionally even providing genuine excitement rather than simple zombie kills.
What’s also impressive is how the film manages to pull off the zombie genre so well. Zombies are easily one of the least threatening and interesting types of villains, and their slow pace is regularly mirrored in countless dull zombie movies. However, just like Resident Evil, Apocalypse too manages to use its fun-loving and light-hearted atmosphere to make the zombies a more entertaining adversary for our characters, rather than trying to be too serious about the threat to their lives.
A real strength of the movie that continues from last time out is the cast. Again assembling a very likable team of characters that I genuinely wanted to see survive, the performances here are pretty good once again. Although there’s the odd laughable moment as usual, new additions Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr and others bring a strong dynamic to the team, whilst Milla Jovovich continues to impress by making the seemingly invincible Alice as human and as interesting as possible, which makes a huge difference to your interest in the story as a whole.
Whilst the film is a delightfully silly watch, there are still numerous problems that I can’t ignore. Although managing to broaden the scope of the world of the Resident Evil series, the story here doesn’t really provide that much intrigue. Save for one completely unexpected and brilliant twist late on, this is a totally bog-standard zombie movie, and doesn’t really ever offer anything deeper to increase your interest.
And then there’s the problem of Alexander Witt’s directing of action. Whilst he does well at establishing the chaos that unfolds across Raccoon City, the action scenes here aren’t quite as entertaining as they were last time out. Again, save for one insane example involving a church, a motorbike, a backflip and an explosion, Witt’s regular use of shaky cam makes it very difficult to see what’s going on in some of the closer fistfights and battles, which disappointed me, as I enjoyed Paul W.S. Anderson’s style in the first film.
Overall, however, I can’t deny that I had a really fun time with Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Its unoriginal and thin story coupled with some poor action directing means that I can’t give it points for cinematic quality, but as far as providing 94 minutes of ridiculous, video game-style popcorn entertainment goes, you can’t really go wrong with this movie, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.8.