A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie Project 377 – Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Resident Evil: Apocalypse – March 12th, 2011

Today we had to watch our movie first thing in the morning as this is our longest convention day of the weekend. And to be honest, I’m really glad we got it out of the way. It’s not the issue of nightmares, which I will get to eventually, so much as it’s the issue of time. I like having it done and over. Now, some movies I wouldn’t say that about and it sort of makes it sound like I don’t want to be watching movies. I do want to be watching movies, I swear! It’s just that some days it’s a little more difficult and some movies just aren’t that interesting. And this is one of those movies.

I would not call this a horrible movie. It has redeeming features and all. But I also wouldn’t call it a good movie. I wouldn’t call it a good movie if you paid me (no one’s paying me). It’s a stupid movie that’s very pretty. It’s got good action and fun special effects and Alice is every bit the bad ass I want her to be, and we have the bonus bad assedness of Jill Valentine. But while I enjoy seeing these ladies and the men who are with them do the immense amounts of damage that they do, there’s no point to it all. It’s an empty movie playing a vehicle for shooting and explosions. That’s all.

The plot is only barely present. There’s a pretense to a plot but it’s flimsy at best. Following on the heels of the first movie, Alice has escaped from the hospital in Raccoon City, where she’s been experimented upon. And then the movie jumps 12 hours, I think? I lost track. The timeline here is fuzzy at best and only when all the characters meet up is it clear who’s doing what, when. So scientists have been evacuated, Alice is loose, so is another creature the Umbrella folks have made, there’s a little girl named Angela – the daughter of one of Umbrella’s scientists – missing in the city, and the city has been walled in and locked up to contain the T-Virus. The scientist manages to reach Alice as well as a couple of S.T.A.R.S. soldiers (S.T.A.R.S. is straight out of the games, being the elite military taskforce that some of the PCs in the games are members of) to tell them to get his daughter from her school and he’ll help them escape. And that? That right there is the plot. It’s a rescue mission and what should be a fairly simple one at that.

Most of the movie involves two groups of survivors – Jill Valentine (a character from the games) and some folks she’s found and then a small group of S.T.A.R.S. soldiers who were left behind – running from place to place, getting attacked, and then running some more. Alice meets up with Jill’s group and helps them out and you know, that’s cool. Alice kicks ass. But lest you think that these people are actually trained and know what the hell they’re doing let me point out that during an outbreak of a virus that reanimates the dead, which can change its transmission type depending on its environment (see, last night’s movie gave info!) Alice and Jill head their group into a cemetery to rest. You can probably imagine how well that goes.

Eventually they get the girl, after some attacks in the school from a bunch of zombified grade schoolers and a lunch lady and oh yes, some doberman pinschers. Okay, I get it. The damn dogs are all over the place in the games and they’re a gigantic pain in the tush. But come on. Why are they at the school, of all places? The answer is, they’re there because it makes for a more invigorating action sequence. So, Angela saved, it’s time for our surviving leads to head off to meet the helicopter the scientist is sending. Oh wait, I mean it’s time for a boss fight with “Nemesis”. Which is what Matt from the last movie now is. Cue what I totally thought was the climactic action sequence. Except it just wouldn’t end! The movie kept reaching perfectly reasonable end points and then having another scene that would lead to another end point.

It is a thoroughly ridiculous zombie action party and while such movies have their places, I’ve got better things to do today than watch a movie that’s really just a prolonged lead-in to a boss fight. And a boss fight with a thoroughly predictable ending, at that. There was nothing surprising in this movie. Even the supposed-to-be-shocking reveal about Angela wasn’t shocking. Instead of going “Oh my god, really?!” I went “Oh. Huh. Okay.” Shock didn’t even enter into it. Which is how this whole movie was. Which is nice when it comes to my dreams, but doesn’t make for a very good zombie movie.

March 12, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

March 12, 2011

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Today represents our second of Alice’s adventures in Umbrella-land. The first Resident Evil movie ended with a clear lead-in to the inevitable sequel, and I’ll admit that I was curious to see where they would go with the series after its promising start. On the whole I’m a little disappointed, but I think that if you turn your expectations down low enough and can get over some casual racism then this movie can be amusing. Not that I said “if” there.

Yesterday’s movie did a good job of taking the video game world and translating it for the cinema. I talked about this some in my review of the X-Men movie. The moving picture is a different medium than video games, so you can’t just take the cut scenes and make them into a movie. (Well you can – and Resident Evil: Degeneration pretty much did just that – but it doesn’t necessarily make a great movie.) What I enjoyed about the first Resident Evil movie was that it used plot elements from the games and locations that would be familiar to game players and made them more cinematic. It also had a fairly lucid if shallow plot (whereas the games have convoluted plots involving some kind of evil cult that is using Umbrella to further some vaguely evil scheme or other.) This second movie starts out promisingly enough with Jill Valentine (a heroine from the games) kicking some ass in a police station in Raccoon City (a familiar setting from Resident Evil 2) but very quickly seems to run out of ideas.

The gist of this movie is that the T-Virus has escaped from containment in the hive and has reached the general populace of Raccoon City. Apparently Umbrella Corp has constructed a big honking wall around the city to keep the entire populace trapped inside (and just how did they do that both Amanda and I wondered. You have to assume that the wall existed before the outbreak, which makes you wonder what the general populace thought they needed protection from that they allowed the wall to be constructed int he first place.) Anyhow, everybody in the entire city is becoming corrupted by the virus and converted into ravenous killing machines. There are a very few survivors remaining. There are a couple STARS officers – Nicholai and Carlos. There is a very poorly written pimp who calls himself L.J. There’s a reporter named Terri with her hand held video camera. There’s Jill (also a member of STARS – the Special Tactical and Rescue Squad) who, unlike the swat team in yesterday’s movie, knows exactly how to put down a zombie. And there’s Alice.

One of the major flaws in this movie for me is that they’ve done with the character of Alice. I realize that it’s really Milla’s movie, and she’s what everything’s supposed to be about, but I don’t quite like where they’ve taken things. See, the “plot” of this movie (if you can call it that) is that Umbrella has been experimenting on Alice in an attempt to create a better biological super-soldier. She’s pretty much a female Captain America I suppose. She’s got super strength and speed and reflexes. Which means that there’s not much sense of peril for most of the movie because it’s very quickly shown that she can mop the floor with a pack of zombies using her bare hands now. Her very first appearance involves her dispatching not one but THREE of the hunter beasts from the end of the first movie. When your hero has leveled up to the degree that she can almost without effort wipe out three boss monsters at once then there’s something seriously wrong with your game play mechanics. I’m just saying.

Umbrella is, it is ultimately revealed, has decided that this outbreak is a great time to test the efficacy of Alice as a weapon, and of their other super-soldier creation: Nemesis. Now in the game Nemesis was a hideous experiment gone awry that acted as the final boss for RE:2 (I seem to recall) and he was bad ass. In this movie he’s a Super Mutant from the Fallout series with a mini gun and a rocket launcher. The whole purpose of the movie is to get Alice and Nemesis in a bare knuckle brawl, and the brilliant scheme the madman in charge of Umbrella has to accomplish this? Kidnap Alice’s friends and then tell her “fight him or your friends die.” Apparently the big-wigs at Umbrella are fans of no holds barred cage matches or something. It just feels like this plot would have been more suited for a Hulk Hogan movie than a sci-fi action/horror film.

My other biggest problem with the movie is the character of L.J. – the hip urban pimp. I felt so bad for Mike Epps. If you’ve ever seen the movie Hollywood Shuffle you may recall the advertisement for “black acting school” where they train young black actors how to act like pimps, servants and drug addicts. L.J. was clearly lifted from the black acting school world of racial stereotypes. He’s not excruciatingly unwatchable, but he is kind of wince inducing.

All of that having been said, well, I have to admit that on a fairly puerile level I did enjoy some of the action in this movie. I mean, I gave a mostly positive review to Ultraviolet. I enjoy watching Milla Jovovich kicking ass, and that’s pretty much all that this movie is about. She kicks ass in a church. In a graveyard. In a school. It may be a pretty one-note movie with nothing in the way of suspense or subtlety, but at least that one note is sweet.

March 12, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment