A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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.

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March 12, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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