Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna
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?"
Here's what I wrote about the previous Resident Evil movie:
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:
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:
Ebert also zoomed in wittily on the quintessential logical fallacy of the film.
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:
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.
Suffice it to say that we are faced with an astoundingly and confusingly rich variety of zombies.
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!
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.
Return to the Movie House home page