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Written by Graham Reed  
Monday, 08 November 2004
Like the first. But Crapper. Shoddier. Cheaper. And Rubbish!

The initial Resident Evil movie has a lot to Answer for. Having reanimated the dead zombie movie genre (sorry, UNDEAD) a couple of years ago, then we got the excellent 28 days later, the fantabulous brillance that is the rom-zom-com of Shaun Of the Dead and the Dawn of the Dead Remake, now we get the sequel - Resident Evil:Apocalypse.Which puts the genre back in the ground for good.

For a film that's all about the undead, this one should have firmly stayed Dead. All the good promise of the original film is squandered with illogical plotting, cartoonish monsters, and the only good bits the film has have been taken straight from Robocop 2. Yes, that bad. It plays, feels and looks like a  straight to video sequels with a huge FX budget.

Picking straight up from the setup at the end of Resident Evil 1, 'Resident Evil:Apocalypse' continues on with the same idea, with Raccoon City, owned by the multinational Umbrella Corporation, being home to an underground bioweapons lab called 'the hive'. When A biogenetic weapon virus escapes in The Hive, it reanimates the dead, who then become the traditional slow moving, braindead cliched Romero-esque Zombies. Then it escapes from the Hive into the city, now quarantined away from the rest of the world.

It's at this point that Alice, the only survivor from the hive, awakes. Armed with a gun and some guts, she pledges to escape the zombie-infested city. Obviously, the only way to keep a city of zombies under control is by sending in some heavy weaponry and goons to keep the zombie infested masses in check at the end of a few hundred guns.

So, pretty much, the plot involves secretive and sinister corporations, mad scientists, genetic engineering and conspiracies. The usual  sci-fi computer game plot gubbins. Add in some monsters and a lot of zombies. Yep, the plot of this movie seems to mainly be summed as this: Oh shit! Zombies! Run away! Shoot stuff! Oh shit! Zombies! Run away! Etc.

Love or Hate him, the shadow of pulp sci-fi director Paul W Anderson hangs heavy over this. He specialises in dumb and expensive, expansive sci-fi with no brains or intelligence, all spectacle and CGI, and no profits. He did Event Horizon, Soldier, Aliens V. predator, and Resident Evil. He writes the script this time, and a more illogical, nonsensical load of comic book nonsense I havenít  seen in a long time.

The City is under quarantine, and no mobile phones in sight? But the payphones work fine - and become a very important plot point later? So how the hell do the Umbrella Corporation intend to keep it under wraps eh? Surely people could just ring out to their friends and family.Never mind their (SPOILERS)  idea to nuke the city to keep the infection it and blame it on a reactor meltdown! Reactor meltdowns donít tend to have mushroom clouds or airburst explosions or anything like that. Stupid Stupid. Stupid. And as for the bits with the CGI monsters, purlease, it just looks like ludicrous. The thing it most resmbles is the crap CGI monster at the end of the first one, mixed with the Robot bad guy Cain from RoboCop II.

Though the action scenes are directed with some flair by Alexander Witt - second unit director of Gladiator et al. - and shows some promise, this is undone by choppy illogical editing where it is impossible to follow the choreography of the fight scenes or understand what the hell is happening, unlike the first film. Sure thereís spectacle, but thereís no logic. And it looks, courtesy of excessive CGI and itís night time setting, just like a cheap version of Robocop. Add in a sub plot involving a team of abandoned SWAT cops - they might as well be called Shooty and Bang Bang for all the emotional depth they have - and so forth, that seems extraneous.

Sure, it has some redeeming features - but all the best bits are ripped off the Robocop Series, such as the fake informercial news.  Illogical and illthought out plotting, and senseless cartoonish hyperviolence run rampant. Itís poorly paced - much of the set up at the beginning feels too long, too much like a flashback, to work effectively, slowing the film down. Again, like the first film, the ending is setting up an all too obvious sequel - which this time is utterly unneccassary. The first one had them escape from the hive and hinted at the devastation of what happened when the zombie virus escaped. In the first, it does so quite quickly, and this time, it just starts and keeps on going and going and going.much like the film, which is duck, cover, run, shoot, get bitten by zombie or not. And repeat until dead or undead whichever it may be.

Despite one inventive idea - using the futuristic central plaza of the city for an airburst nuke in which we see the fireball glow intensely before the shockwave kills every one, which to my knowledge we havenít seen on film before - the whole film is creatively and artistically redundant. Sure, the actual fact they could just nuke a city without a second thought to cover up a political fuck up is a chilling one, but is done in such a cartoony way as to remove any serious point it might have been trying to make.

Director Alexander Witt has good ideas but gets them across poorly - on basis of this, he wonít be anything other a competent straight to video director for the next Seagal or van Damme movie, unfortunately. Which is a shame, because thereís so much potential, and so squandered. And its not like I expecting Citizen Kane going in anyway.

The whole point of a film like this is you laugh with the film, not AT the film. Sure, thereís some good dark sarcastic humour in it, but thereís more laughs to be had from the ludicrousness of it. Much like the zombies themselves, what we get instead is brainless mindless violence and gore. Lots of stuff blowing up, lots of loud explosions, zombie dogs,  and thatís all. Its just like a video game on the movie screen. Funny that, eh?

Oh well. Whoever decided this deserved a double disc DVD musta been stupid.As stupid as those damn zombies. This film borders on, when itís not actually crossing over into, the silly and downright absurd. Leave your brain and logic at the door, and just enjoy the CGI monsters and stuff blowing up, and you might enjoy it. But generally I like movies to have a little more than just nonsensical plotting, poor production values, explosions and scantily clad women. But hey, maybe thatís just me.

I presume its called Resident Evil:Apocalypse for a reason. The Apocalypse is the end, the final battle. Hopefully this is the end, the final battle of the Resident Evil franchise. Because if the next movies anything like as bad as this, It should never be made.


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