Review

Resident Evil: Apocalypse Review

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Sep 10, 2004 | 12:26pm EDT

Apocalypse pretty much picks up where Resident Evil left off. Alice (Milla Jovovich) the heroine from the original who escaped the Umbrella Corp.'s underground "Hive" and its zombie denizens awakens in a cold laboratory to find herself alone in a ravaged Raccoon City. Apparently the T-cell virus that destroyed the Hive has been unleashed on the city turning the metropolis into Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. On a more positive note Alice has also somehow been genetically altered and now possesses superhuman strengths senses and dexterity--which is nice. Her skills comes in handy when she joins up with a rag-tag group of uninfected survivors including Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) a member of the Umbrella Corp.'s elite Special Tactics and Rescue Services (meaning she's excellent at shooting guns); Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) a biohazard countermeasure force leader (he's not too bad at the gun thing either); Teri Morales (Sandrine Holt) a journalist trying to get the "real" story and L.J. (Mike Epps) a wisecracking civilian caught up in the mayhem. But in order to get out of Dodge Alice and the gang need to wade their way through the relentless onslaught of the ravenous undead as well as the malevolent Umbrella forces and bio-engineered weapons. Yeah and you thought going to work on Mondays was bad.

Just by looking at the petite Milla Jovovich one wouldn't imagine the sort of physical prowess she possesses; she can really pull off this action-heroine stuff. Not like that's a big surprise. Ever since The Fifth Element and the original Resident Evil Jovovich has easily convinced us she is more than capable of kicking the bejeezus out of the nasty baddies she encounters while also managing to convey some genuine human emotion. Yet Apocalypse has an extra bonus because not only is there one kick-ass female but two which thankfully makes Apocalypse much more exciting than say the incredibly boring Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. British actress Guillory plays the sexy Jill Valentine a popular character from the video game (who of course is scantily clad in a tube top short skirt and big black boots) who has the same steely self-control as Alice firing off her weapons with aplomb. Although prickly at first the two gain some hard-earned respect. As the only male zombie-kicker Fehr (The Mummy) complements the ladies nicely with his handy dandy knife-throwing and well-choreographed moves while Epps (The Fighting Temptations) offers appropriate comic relief without being too obnoxious about it.

The first two Resident Evil installments is reminiscent of the first two installments in the Alien series. Differing from Alien only in the fact it was already a well-known video game the original Resident Evil kept things contained and creepy as a small band of soldiers investigate what happened in the Hive as did Alien. Then when it came time for the sequels both franchises decided to come out like gangbusters with more guns more monsters and more explosions. The formula works. First-time director Alexander Witt who worked with the original Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson as an assistant director gets the hang of things pretty quickly inundating audiences with eye-popping thrills and Matrix-esque action sequences. Witt also brings back some favorites from the original including the undead Dobermans who look like they've been turned inside out; and the Lickers those lovely biochemical experiments with long-whipping tongues they use to snatch their prey. The problem is the film's flow; it simply is too much like a video game. While the individual segments are seat-grabbing the overall cohesiveness gets lost at times even if the ending leaves things wide open for a third film.

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