John’s Horror Corner: Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Milla Jovovich versus yet more viral zombies and mutant monsters.
MY CALL: Many consider this sequel superior to part 1. I’m middle of the road. The action is better but the writing seems worse, with the clichés turned up—a lot. Still a pretty fun watch, though. MORE MOVIES LIKE Resident Evil: Resident Evil (2002), Doom (2005), the Silent Hill movies (2006, 2012) and the Underworld franchise (2003-2017) come to mind.
Narrated by Alice (Milla Jovovich; The Fifth Element, Resident Evil, Ultraviolet), a brief flashback montage catches us up with the story, which picks right up where it left off in 2002 as suited-up Umbrella technicians re-open the Hive.
Like part 1, Alice once again awakens quite scantily clad with no clue where she is. This time in a surgical gown…errrr…a “piece” of one. LOL. They sure do like having her wake up with a heavy dose of legs and side boob. She has also clearly been operated upon or the subject of experimentation. Alice wanders outside the facility to find the streets of Racoon City barren—a newspaper headlined “The Dead Walk” blows by. Nice touch, right? We come to find that after her capture at the end of part 1 she had been dosed with the T-virus (a special strain, I suppose), making her a superhuman killing machine.
Picking up where Paul W. S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Soldier) left off, newcomer director Alexander Witt (his only directorial feature, by the way) has turned the clichés up hard. Supercop Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory; Eragon, The Time Machine) slips out of her heels and into her Lara Croft Tomb Raider gear to solve Racoon City’s zombie apocalypse one headshot at a time in her tight breasty tube top and short-shorts; Carlos (Oded Fehr; The Mummy) likewise receives a nonsense-fueled opening action sequence; and the highly melodramatically written Dr. Ashford (Jared Harris; The Quiet Ones, Poltergeist) wheels out of his McMansion all smarty-pantsish like Professor Xavier. There is also no shortage of various things random like ridiculous gratuitous acrobatics, zombies rising from the shallowest graves ever, no one ever missing a shot, topless zombie prostitutes, and yet more generally poor writing.
Racoon City is quarantined, trapping all within along with the virus-raging zombies. Among those trapped is Dr. Ashford’s young daughter. Safely watching from outside the city, Ashford agrees to help Alice and Valentine escape if they can rescue her. It’s all very Escape from New York-ish (1981). Trapped in a city of undesirables, our bad-ass hero is infected with a virus and will find a grim outcome nearing the end of the film unless she can save the daughter of a scientist who waits safely outside the city.
There’s just one problem. The “Nemesis Program” (mentioned at the end of part 1) is activated, awakening Alice’s old buddy who has now mutated into an unrecognizably hulking dreadnought resembling Hellraiser’s (1987) Chatterbox on steroids.
This sequel, much as its predecessor, features the lamest zombie scenes—all phoned in and clearly wastes of film and make-up. However, once Alice fights the Nemesis hulk, things get REALLY entertaining. I’m not a fan of the 30’ Crouching Tiger Jedi jumps, the canned fight scenes, or how thousands of bullets perpetually miss Alice despite having no cover and minimal evasive maneuvers. But the action sequence is really quite entertaining. I roll my eyes more here than at the original, and part 1 was clearly better written (in my opinion), but this sequel truly succeeds at being more FUN however over-the-top it may be.
After a better final boss battle than part 1 offered, there is a still a lot to be desired in the fighting photography and choreography. Even when featuring a hand-to-hand combat action finale, this sequel is clearly more about big explosions and blatant exposition than the quality of anything between. But again, it’s fun. And I’m grateful that the final boss wasn’t another miscarriage of bad CGI.
We end very much how we began—and paralleling how part 1 ended and began—with Alice recovered by Umbrella, naked (Amen for boobs, right guys?), and yet again the subject of further experimentation by Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen; Game of Thrones, Darkness). No points for originality, but I enjoyed the ending anyway. I enjoyed the whole thing.
Much as part 1 ended with the initiation of its sequel’s premise, so does part 2 leave the doors wide open for part 3: “Initiate the Alice Program.” I’d say keep going if you liked either of the first two. There’s nothing particularly thoughtful to be found here, yet still a lot of effort was evident behind making this fun and exciting.