Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes

The first question you have to ask yourself is, "why did they make a sequel to a movie which received, on the average, one star out of four from the critics?"

Good question.

Here's what I wrote about the previous Resident Evil movie:

"If the people who liked the movie said it was brain-dead unoriginal nonsense, you can imagine what the others said. And you can deduce that you will not like it unless you believe that frenetic action, cool sets, and loud noises are enough to make up for incoherence, stupidity, and unoriginality."

You think that was too negative? Turns out I was Mr. Charitable. Tuna took me to task for pussyfooting around and not really telling it like it was:

"Scoopy liked this one rather more than I did. As it was clearly not required of the script to make sense, they had room for infinite creativity, but managed none. To me, it is a slickly made piece of junk. It made me yearn for something much more exciting, like watching my hard drive defrag"

So why a sequel? Well, money of course ...

 ... and I guess maybe they thought this was the time of destiny for zombie movies. After all 2003-2004 has been the golden age of zombie flicks. Before that, I can't remember ever liking any movie featuring people who used to be dead. It was once a fundamental principle of the film universe: Scoopy's Unity of the Undead, aka Unity 17, aka The Captain Corelli rule. "A resurrection is an indication of a bad movie, whether it involves Jesus, zombies, or people presumed dead. There has never been a good movie with more than one resurrection."  This principle includes religious movies, movies in which a character presumed dead is actually alive, or movies with zombies.  Resurrections may have brought life to characters, but they have brought certain death to movies. That was basically true until 2003 came along and turned the universe on its ear. Scoopy's Unity of the Undead is now dead itself, reduced to historical trivia, cast aside as easily as Einstein cast aside the Newtonian world, overthrown in the last year or so by a few decent zombie movies knit together in a tight chronological pattern: Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later.

Yeah, maybe it was pre-ordained that zombie movies should turn the corner in 2003-2004, but Resident Evil: Apocalypse was a notable exception. It's even worse than the original. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Roger Ebert liked this movie any more than I did:

"The movie is an utterly meaningless waste of time. There was no reason to produce it, except to make money, and there is no reason to see it, except to spend money. It is a dead zone, a film without interest, wit, imagination or even entertaining violence and special effects."

Ebert also zoomed in wittily on the quintessential logical fallacy of the film.

"In a scene where several characters are fighting zombies inside a church, the renegade scientist comes to the rescue by crashing her motorcycle through a stained-glass window and landing in the middle of the fight. This inspires the question: How did she know what was on the other side of the window? Was she crashing through the stained glass on spec?"

Roger was not significantly more negative than the other reviewers in America. So maybe they liked it in England? Nah. In fact, the critical reviews in the U.K. are just about the worst I've seen since I started keeping track of such things. The only film in the same league is the earlier Resident Evil movie.

Yet, astoundingly, thanks to some hype and the fact that no top movies opened opposite it, Resident Evil: Apocalypse briefly took the #1 spot in America with an opening weekend of $23 million on its way to a respectable $50 million total.

Whenever the critics and the mass audiences disagree, I almost invariably find myself on the side of the general public. Not this time. This film deserved every bit of the critical savaging, and worse. The box office success is absolutely amazing, because this flick is not just sorta bad, it's an abomination. Watching this movie is exactly the same as watching the screen when other people are playing video games. The MPAA title screen says it is rated "R for non-stop violence." I've never seen them use that verbiage before, but they have a point. The film basically consists of people stalking through dark alleys and corridors, followed by zombies grunting and growling outside of locked doors, followed by armed guys blowing away mass quantities of zombies with automatic weapons. Then we see lots of fires and explosions. Then we see guys looking at computer screens with numbers changing rapidly, possibly to see their scores and how many "lives" they have remaining.

As you might guess, the IMDB scores are skewed toward ... well, toward people who find it entertaining to watch others play video games. Here's the breakdown by age:

Aged below 18 7.2
Age 18-29 6.2
Age 30-44 5.6
Aged 45 or more 5.3


The film must set a record for one thing: greatest zombie variety. There are your basic regular old-fashioned movie zombies that just mill around the streets mumbling and hanging their arms loose, but there are also super-powered zombies, and kung-fu zombies, and zombies with long tongues, and zombies who are heavily armed, and zombies who rise from their graves, and zombie pets, and topless zombie hookers, and I don't know what all. I think there were even good guy zombies. I think there may even have been some musical Caribbean zombies singing Apo-calypso songs.

"Daylight come and me wan' go tomb".

 Suffice it to say that we are faced with an astoundingly and confusingly rich variety of zombies.

"Fat zombies, skinny zombies, zombies who climb on rocks.

Tough zombies, sissy zombies, even zombies with chicken pox."

I don't know whether they all love Armour Hot Dogs, but we truly have a Zombie for All Seasons.

Other than that record-setting variety of zombie types, this film has just about nothing going for it.

... unless you like to see Milla Jovovich naked.

... and topless zombie hookers.

Hey, now that I think about it ... those are not bad reasons to watch a movie. Well, 60 seconds of a movie, anyway.

Oh, to tell you the truth, it doesn't really bother me that such a woeful movie was such a success. There are a lot of different movie audiences out there, and this film was very successful at finding its target consumers and delivering what they wanted. (Although I don't know how they managed to find those video game guys with an R rated film. I would have guessed that the target viewers were aged 13-17. I guess there must be a lot of guys 18-21 who still like this stuff.)  Only one thing bothers me. If this sucker makes a healthy profit (which it probably will, after all the revenue streams flow out), it will spawn more video games and we can look forward to at least one more theatrical movie sequel. If that one does well, even more games and movies. Even if the next film does not do well, it will spawn some straight-to-vid sequels. That's a lot more of these to look forward to. That may not affect most of you, because you can simply avoid them, but it affects me if they have nudity, because I'll have to watch them sumbitches!



  • Commentary by director Alexander Witt, producer Jeremy Bolt, and executive producer Robert Kulzer
  • Commentary by Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, and Sienna Guillory
  • Commentary by writer/producer Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt
  • Widescreen anamorphic and full-screen formats
  • 20 deleted scenes
  • Cast outtakes
  • Game Over: Resident Evil Reanimated
  • A six-part making-of
  • Corporate Malfeasance: Featurette on the real-world similarities to the Umbrella Corporation
  • Game Babes: Featurette on the emergence of female action stars in film
  • Symphony of Evil: Featurette on the special effects used in the film
  • Poster Gallery: A collection of winning submissions created by the finalists of the online poster design contest
  • Number of discs: 2


  • Milla Jovovich shows her breasts while she's immersed in a tank. She is seen naked from the side, but the fullscreen version makes it clear that she wore panties whenever there was a camera angle that might show anything naughty.
  • There are two topless zombie hookers.

Tuna's notes

Umbrella Corporation has decided to reopen "The Hive" in Raccoon City, and guess what? Yes, the dread T-virus escapes again and starts creating zombies. One of the employees of Umbrella will help some women escape The Hive if they agree to find and rescue his daughter. Everyone else will be nuked. The nuke is a fascinating development, in that the radiation doesn't bother "good guys."

I admit to a prejudice against zombies.  I am not the least bit frightened by slow motion monsters. Having said that, I could see nothing about this film to recommend. It could have helped that the chief zombie fighters were Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory and Sandrine Holt, but the director kept them mostly in the dark and wearing way too many clothes. The fight scenes were especially dark, probably in an attempt to make it seem like it is a great feat to kick a slow motion monster. Two of the women and all of the men were too stupid to learn that you need to shoot zombies in the head. Stepping on their toes doesn't work.

Fans of this tripe will be glad to know that the film ends with a blueprint for the next sequel, Resident Evil: Extinction.

The Critics Vote ...

  • British consensus out of four stars: one star. Mail 2/10, Telegraph 2/10, Independent 2/10, Guardian 4/10, Sun 6/10, Express 2/10, Mirror 2/10, BBC 1/5.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters overrate it at a mediocre 5.7/10, but IMDb's top 1000 voters score it substantially lower - a more accurate 4.6.
  • Again demonstrating the difference between the critics and the fanboys, the average critical score is a C (about as low as Yahoo's softball system goes), but the average fan score is an outlandish B+!!

  • Box Office Mojo. It was fairly successful, with $50 in domestic gross, and $76 million overseas. Unbelievably enough, it fell into a marketing crevice, had no top movies opening opposite it, and took the #1 spot with a $23 million opening weekend. The production budget was $45 million and the marketing costs were @$25 million.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is a low C-. It kills me to say that since I detested it so thoroughly, but I have to score it that high because it obviously has lots of fans in the male, under 21 demographic (average score 7.2 among IMDB voters below 18.)  Be aware that it's for video game fanboys only. If you are not in that group, it's unwatchable. (Average critical score one star. Average IMDB score 4.6/10 among IMDB's most frequent voters.) It's technically impressive at times, but has no character development and no plot to speak of. It's just explosions and zombies." Tuna calls it a D, with "nothing to recommend."

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