Director – Alexander Witt
Cast – Mila Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Sophie Vavasseur, Razaaq Adoti, Jared Harris, Mike Epps, Sandrine Holt, Matthew G. Taylor
Release Year – 2004
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This film is the second installment in the Resident Evil franchise that has starred Milla Jovovich, and brought her to stardom more than any of her other films have. This time Resident Evil director Paul W. S Anderson(whom has since married Milla Jovovich) decided to pass on directing this installment and focused on writing the film instead. I cannot say whether this was really good nor bad, due to the fact that Paul W. S. Anderson has directed some awesome films like Event Horizon, as well as some not-so-awesome films like Mortal Kombat(although I was a huge fan of the game). Anywho, for this film we are given a first-time director named Alexander Witt to helm the film. Mr. Witt has been a director of photography for many big films such as Gladiator, Remember the Titans, Hannibal, and Pirates of the Caribbean (to name a few) yet as of today Resident Evil: Apocalypse still remains the only film he himself has directed.
This film takes begins right where the first film left off. General Cain decides to open the hive in order to figure out what went wrong down there and in doing so…released the undead scientists we were shown in the first film. With Racoon City now becoming a lost cause, General Cain decides to quarantine the city and prepare to have the city destroyed in order to stop the virus, and to cover Umbrella’s tracks. In the meantime Alice(Milla Jovovich) awakes in an empty Umbrella hospital and makes her way into the carnage faster, stronger, and smarter than she was before. Whatever Umbrella has done to her seems to have enhanced her in many ways, although their motives are not pleasant. Alice must join forces with renegade cop Jill Valentine(Sienna Guillory), left-for-dead S.T.A.R operative Carlos Olivera(Oded Fehr) and a bumbling idiot named L.J.(Mike Epps) in order to save a young girl, and fight off Umbrella’s “other” secret project…a genetically enhanced creature by the name of Nemesis.
This sequel benefits in the way that most sequels do…they are able to take off into the carnage and action right from the start. It is almost unfair to the first film in a franchise, given that the first film will naturally be a bit slower due to the development of the plot, however I always give the first film some “cred” for having to go through that. I told myself this several times during the film, and I believe it accurately portrays what this film has to offer, “This film is The Matrix” of horror films. Right from the beginning of the film we are thrown into action scenes that never let up for more than a few minutes at a time. We are shown lots of zombie action, tons of weaponry, “lickers”, the “dogs” from the first film, and of course…Nemesis. It is obvious right from the first movement that this film is going to be 90 percent action, and 10 percent plot and well…quite honestly…I am okay with that. Why is that? Well pretty much because we already know the plot, we already know what is going on thanks to the first film. There are of course going to be additions to the plot such as Nemesis and the use of Dr. Ashford(Jared Harris) but for the most part you should be able to understand what is going on.
I really enjoyed this film and found it to be a very positive addition to the franchise, unlike many other sequels which pretty much should have never been green lighted in the first place. As I mentioned earlier, we are given lots of zombie carnage, which I always enjoy. It was really awesome to see so many zombies running around the city biting and infecting the remaining survivors(very 28 Weeks Later feel) and of course I loved the fact that are given a bigger military presence in this film compared to the first installment. I really enjoyed seeing all the battles between the S.T.A.R. operatives and the zombies as they blast the zombies away and give us some pretty cool martial arts scenes as well. One of my favorite scenes had to be the “graveyard” scene in which the dead and buried were becoming zombies and coming out of the ground. The scene really surprised me and gave me the most satisfying smile I’ve had all day, especially with the characters fighting off the zombies using their martial arts training, which reminded me of the ass-kicking priest in Dead Alive. One aspect where this film surpasses it’s predecessor is the use of Nemesis. The first film simply had our crew trying to escape “the hive” and having to fight off a “licker” as the main conflict. This film however finally gave us one of the “bosses” used in the video game series and boy did Nemesis look sweeeeeet! I really loved the iconic shots of Nemesis coming into the scene through smoke and debris, which I personally would have found terrifying had I been there in real life. Thankfully Paul W. S. Anderson decided to write in some of the back-story behind Nemesis, and included clips from the first Resident Evil to explain things. I enjoyed that much better than the notion of just throwing Nemesis in there and letting the audience figure it out, which I personally find to be lazy scriptwriting.
Although this film is “The Matrix of Horror Films”, it does come with some flaws. As I mentioned earlier, this film is all action and little plot. If you are looking to view this film in what I refer to as “Academy Award fashion” then you will find yourself disappointed. This film is all about action and that is that. I also did not like director Witt’s use of the slow and grainy scenes of zombies running near the screen. The first time it happened I was fine with it, however I guess he decided to show off his director-of-photography abilities and go back to that type of cinematography several more times, which I started to find annoying.
Now onto the big question: How does this film compare to it’s predecessor…Resident Evil. Personally, I feel this film compares very favorably and does out do the first film on some levels. However I must say that I do find the first film to outdo this film just a little bit. The first film really had you glued to the screen thanks to the story, which then had the action supplementing the story. I definitely find Resident Evil: Apocalypse to be more “entertaining” and my personal favorite in the series though, mainly because of the more “memorable” characters from the video game such as Jill Valentine, Carlos Olivera and of course…Nemesis. I also liked how Jill Valentine’s attire in the film was the same as in the video game series, nice touch on that Mr. Witt and Mr. Anderson. Winner? Resident Evil > Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Overall, this is a great addition to the Resident Evil series and is a perfect film for a beer and pizza night. If you enjoyed the first film, then you will enjoy this one.