US Release Date: 09-10-2004
Directed by: Alexander Witt
- Milla Jovovich, as
- Sienna Guillory, as
- Jill Valentine
- Oded Fehr, as
- Carlos Olivera
- Thomas Kretschmann, as
- Major Cain
- Jared Harris, as
- Dr. Charles Ashford
- Sandrine Holt, as
- Terri Morales
- Razaaq Adoti, as
- Peyton Wells
- Mike Epps, as
- Matthew G. Taylor, as
- Roman Podhora, as
- Leader Umbrella Guard
- Zack Ward as
- Nicholai Ginovaeff
Milla Jovovich as Alice in Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
Movies based on video games are rarely a success. Something about the episodic level structure of a game refuses to lend itself well to a traditional three-act movie. While it's enjoyable in a game to battle hordes of undead monsters in unrealistic proportions, in a movie you need character development and motivations. However, it must be said that of all the video game to movie adaptations, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is one of the most successful.
Taking up directly where the original left off, the story begins with the release of the T-Virus from an underground scientific facility run by the all-powerful Umbrella Corporation, beneath Raccoon City. When the virus becomes unstoppable, the corporation seals off the city, trapping its residents inside with hordes of zombies infected with the virus.
As with all zombie movies, soon there is a motley crew of survivors battling for survival. This group is lead by Alice (Jovovich), one of two survivors from the first film. With augmented powers courtesy of Umbrella, Alice wastes no time in kicking zombie ass. Along for the ride are an ex-female police officer who bears more than a little resemblance to Lara Croft, a special forces operative, a civilian, a newscaster, and the daughter of one of Umbrella's top scientists. The group's one hope for survival comes when the daughter's father contacts them with the promise of escape so long as they keep his daughter from harm.
With the sudden glut of zombie movies lately, it would take something special for a new one to stand out. And while this one doesn't really break new ground, it wisely focuses primarily on the action, and keeps the story moving along at a quick pace. The cast members are all pretty generic, apart from Alice, and the sudden inevitable loss of some of them, doesn't come as a surprise. After 28 Days Later and the more recent Shaun of the Dead, Resident Evil: Apocalypse seems outdated, being more reminiscent of an 80s action movie with Jovovich in the Schwarzenegger role, than a modern horror movie.
Like those movies, the body count is high, although the blood and gore is kept fairly tame. There's nothing close to the laser-slicing device from the original Resident Evil, although the zombie dobermans do reappear.
As a mindless action film, this one satisfies, but disappoints as a horror film, with only a minimum amount of scares. Although fans of the video games and of the original movie will probably be happy, as they should be by the film's ending which leaves plenty of room for another sequel.
Stephen Hayes, Zack Ward and Oded Fehr as guns for hire in Resident Evil: Apocalypse
What I took away from Resident Evil: Apocalypse may not be what everyone else does. As Scott wrote, it focuses on the action, which makes for a mindless piece of celluloid entertainment. A group of gun toting survivors kill any number of zombies and do battle with the hired guns of a huge corporation called Umbrella, that caused the zombie virus outbreak.
Zombie apocalypse movies come and go. I have sat through painfully immature conversations about what someone would do if one ever really happened. It is a pointless conversation as dead tissue, even if re-animated, would have no need to eat. However, with the Umbrella Corporation, the movie brings up a subject worth discussing, especially if you are a conspiracy theorist.
We tend to believe that the governments of the world control everything. They may be the ones who pass the laws, dole out welfare to buy votes and declare war, but governments run on finances that they collect from tax payers, and the largest tax payers are corporations. Thus, is the control of government in the hands of your average voter or large corporations? Which pill do you want to take Neo?
Umbrella seems to have unlimited resources and an army to protect it. In real life we have privately armed security firms like Blackwater, which is a mercenary army that has guarded Western interests in the Middle East and elsewhere. Thus, very wealthy corporations can hire their own army to do their bidding, just as in the movie.
What about the evil medical and scientific experiments Umbrella conducts? Surely, that is all made up. No level headed government would allow such a thing to go on, right? Wrong! The United States has an often unspoken history of medical experiments done to African Americans.
During slavery days, African-Americans were tortured in the name of the advancement of medicine and medical knowledge. Some of the things that were believed to have been done seem akin to the practices of Joseph Mengele and his Nazi scientists. Even if you want to dismiss that as just another unfortunate occurrence during slavery, what excuse is there for the Tuskegee syphilis experiment conducted between 1932 and 1972. The U.S. Public Health Service studied the progression of syphilis by injecting the virus into African American men who thought they were receiving free vaccinations from the U.S. government.
At the end of Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the survivors give a video recording to the media that they show and report to the world. Very quickly the media is told by someone that it was a fabricated hoax and their reports change to reflect that, even though we, the viewers, know it was not. When our embassy in Benghazi was attacked and our ambassador killed, our government fed the media the false story of a video inciting the actions. Reporters on the scene soon told of how that was not true. What should have been one of the biggest stories of the decade quickly got swept under the rug.
Although Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a horror film in which the heroine does battle with zombies, the real threat in the movie, as well as in real life, is from the corporate/government/media complex. They control our safety, medicine, and information. A zombie hardly seems scary once you grasp all of that.
Photos © Copyright Screen Gems (2004)