Game Over Online ~ Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Published: Wednesday, September 15th, 2004 at 07:25 PM
Written By: Thomas Wilde

It appears likely at this point that movies based on video games will continue to suck for the foreseeable future. The best one so far, Mortal Kombat, was an unapologetic clone of Enter the Dragon, and Uwe Boll seems to be in line to utterly destroy anything left of the subgenre.

It's pretty stupid, too. A film adaptation of a video game would theoretically be easy, at least on paper, especially in a day and age where games are deliberately moving as close to film narrative as possible. It's not like somebody's trying to make a gripping sociopolitical drama out of freakin' Minesweeper.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse manages to screw it up, though.

In this movie, Paul Anderson takes the bold step of writing a script that's nearly totally inaccessible for anyone who hasn't played the games, and may actually piss off anyone who has. It's another one of those movies that's racing word of mouth, to see if it can score a couple of $20 million weekends before everyone knows it's awful.

Apocalypse is the story of the fall of Raccoon City, as told in Resident Evil 2, 3, and Outbreak. After the Hive sealed itself off at the end of the last movie, the Umbrella corporation quickly reopens it and in so doing unleashes hell.

With zombies and other monsters spilling into the streets of Raccoon City, a disgraced cop named Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) gathers up a bunch of survivors (another STARS member (Razaaq Adoti), a TV weatherwoman (Sandrine Holt), and a pimp (Mike Epps)) and tries to escape. Because the Umbrella corporation has sealed off all exits from the city, the only way out is for Jill to fight her way across Raccoon and rescue the daughter of one of Umbrella's top scientists. A couple of mercenaries who Umbrella has abandoned, Carlos Oliviera (Oded Fehr) and Nicholai Ginovaef (Zack Ward), are given the same mission.

Meanwhile, in a hospital somewhere, Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up and emerges from the hospital onto the streets of Raccoon. While she's scaring up cool weapons and strange clothes, she realizes that she's been changed somehow; now her skinny little stick arms are packed with superhuman strength.

With Alice awake, the scientists at Umbrella unleash the second survivor of the Hive, whose mutations at the end of the first movie have turned him into an inhuman killing machine: the Nemesis.

Apocalypse, at this point, degenerates into a frenzy of Alice kicking ass--zombies, Lickers, the Nemesis, human guards, etc.--while all of the other characters stand there and look vaguely impressed.

There's a certain fanfictiony reek about this plot. Anderson hasn't just inserted an original character into Resident Evil 3; he's also chucked out most of the cast, changed most of those who're still around, and given them almost nothing to do in the face of Alice's newfound superheroic asskickery.

Alice literally does everything in the movie that's worth doing. She gets cooler guns than Jill, scores most of the quality kills, rescues all of the other characters at least twice, and winds up in a kung-fu deathmatch against the Nemesis.

Really, I'm still trying to figure out why Jill and Carlos are in the movie in the first place. They don't do much. Sienna Guillory's hot and all, and Oded Fahr gives the impression that he'd be the leading badass in any other movie. Here, their role dwindles down to sitting around and watching Alice do weird things, like rip off the opening movie from Code Veronica.

In other words, Alice's been turned into a textbook author-created character: a Mary Sue, for those who know the slang.

If you're not familiar with the games, then that's no big deal, but I am. I know the games to a ridiculous and faintly sad extent. Jill's arguably the single biggest badass in the whole damn survival-horror subgenre (and all her competition's found within the Resident Evil series), and here, she's window dressing. Nicholai goes out like a total punk, Carlos somehow becomes even less likeable, and the film's Nemesis is a total wuss who's wholly absent from most of the movie.

In a way, it's a good thing I know the games. Even if it's making me bitch about minutiae like this, it means I have some idea what the hell is going on. I may have been the only person in the theater who had any idea why Jill knew what was going on with the zombies, or how Umbrella, a pharmaceutical corporation, had the power to seal off the city and declare what looked like martial law.

Just for good measure, there's also a fair amount of good old-fashioned stupidity thrown into the mix. Characters split up like morons to thin out the cast search an area, zombies appear and disappear like ninjas, Jill keeps hold of her pistol even when there are better guns lying right in front of her (that's really an affront to the whole of video gaming right there), the One-Bite-And-You're-Hooked zombification rules of the movie make Jill's outfit look even stupider here than it is in the game, zombies erupt from the ground for no real reason (if there's a viral infection making living humans into undead zombies, how did they get infected?), there's plenty of headache-inducing shaky/blurry-cam, there are constant blurry flashbacks to the first movie or to something you saw about twenty minutes ago (constant clipshows from earlier in the same movie irritate me), and the whole movie gives the impression that about an hour and a half of it was left on the cutting room floor.

About the only thing I liked in the movie was LJ, the aforementioned pimp, who's the film's comedy relief. If your movie's gotta have an amusing caricature of a black guy, LJ's at least a good one. He doesn't sound or look like he's trying to cosplay Chris Tucker.

The Resident Evil series is essentially a bunch of B-movies, starring cops and relatives of cops as they try to take down undead monsters and the agents of a villainous corporation. I can understand that Anderson doesn't just want to remake the games; I wouldn't want to either, as you'd be making a secondhand ripoff of every zombie movie in the last thirty years.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse, though, is a sloppy remake of RE3 for the ADD crowd. If you've played RE3 or ever seen a good zombie movie, you can safely skip it. If you've never played RE3, you're a hardcore Milla Jovovich fanboy, and you're much better than I am at shutting off your brain, then go ahead and see it. You've been warned.

Have you seen Resident Evil: Apocalypse? What are your thoughts of the movie? Talk to us!

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