Friday, 6 December 2013

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)



I very much enjoyed the first Resident Evil film, finding it a thoroughly entertaining blend of zombie menace and over the top martial arts and gun play. So when the first sequel hit cinemas back in 2004 I headed along to see it. And I was pretty disappointed.

Now this disappointment wasn't due to any particular love of the Resident Evil series of computer games, on which the movies are at least nominally based. I've never played any of them, and know very little about them beyond what I've picked up from gaming geek osmosis. This is more or less "they're shooters where you fight zombies, and they've tended to be more and more action-oriented and less and less horror games as the series continues". Which if true, maps pretty well onto the movies as a whole.

The problem in Apocalypse is two-fold, I think. First, they tried to squeeze in a lot of new characters, not an easy task when you only have 85 minutes to play with, and the eventual fate of most of those characters is pretty obvious from the moment you meet them: you know Jill Valentine (played by the woefully miscast Sienna Guillory) will survive, for instance, while the glory-hungry reporter cannot help but be zombie chow. Second, they focused on major action set pieces, dropping any real sense of tension or danger in favour of martial arts fights and explosions. If these were more interesting, the film would probably work better than it does, but they're generally not especially exciting, and the chief 'monster' of the film is a clunky, rather stiff looking brute that fails to generate any sense of menace. I supect this design is a call-back to a creature in the games, and if so, I hope it worked better as pixels and bytes than it does here.

So should you watch this? Well, probably only if you plan to watch the entire franchise. Otherwise, I'd just limit yourself to the original entry in the series.

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