Hollywood is known for its summertime action "flicks", and recent action films such as The Matrix began to show a hopeful turn towards a trend of thoughtful plots and interesting stories. Unfortunately, the large success of Resident Evil: Apocalypse may very well be the deathblow to this promising new trend. In a sense, the title speaks for itself; Resident Evil: Apocalypse may very well be the apocalypse of intelligent action movies.
After a new virus breaks out in a large industrialized city, citizens begin mutating into cannibalistic, flesh-eating zombies. The Umbrella Corporation, consisting of the people most directly responsible for the outbreak, takes measures to quarantine the city, turning it into a horrific sanitarium. The story follows several characters as they attempt to survive and escape the city with the help of an unseen ally who keeps contact with them from outside the city. Things further complicate when "Nemesis", the movie's biggest, toughest monster, arrives for the sole purpose of killing just about everything he perceives as a threat.
The plot of Resident Evil: Apocalypse is, perhaps, the single worst piece of writing recently played out before the eyes of unfortunate movie fans. From the very beginning, the story begs questions that are never answered: who gave the Umbrella Corporation a building permit for a gigantic wall that would circle the city and with which they could, at a moment's notice, lock everyone inside? Why does Alice come crashing into a church through a stained-glass window, on a motorcycle, "armed to the teeth" with weaponry, to rescue the protagonists with perfect timing, despite the fact that she has never met them before and was, in the previous scene, walking around in the street with only a shotgun and no motorcycle at all? These and many more mind-boggling questions are completely ignored; the person who was in charge of this film's continuity should never work in Hollywood again. In fact, Resident Evil: Apocalypse has more plot holes than moldy Swiss cheese. However, even when ignoring the numerous plot holes -- which is almost an impossibility -- the story itself is still laughable, revolving partly around an insipid "fight for survival" that seems to rely on the main group splitting up and one of the subgroups being brutally slaughtered for no good reason, with the other part being about Alice (a character invented by the script-writer, as she was never in the game it is very loosely-taken from) and her relationship with the monster "Nemesis". Surprisingly, the director managed to craft a story that is significantly less interesting the one presented in the video game version. To cap off all the "excitement", the movie reaches its climax a full fifteen minutes before the end of the film! After a handful of survivors have escaped, Alice is caught and put in a lab, where she not only manages to escape, but also to manifest psychic powers while quipping off several lines that were used to advertise the movie in commercials. What was the purpose of this 15-minute epilogue? To set up the next movie in the series - a completely unnecessary task, as the film has already made it clear that there is absolutely no help for the next sequel in terms of quality. In a way, it could be said that the one thing the plot truly accomplished was setting the stage for even more cinematic fodder in the future.
The acting was not bad, and, in general, was as good as it could have been, given the material the actors had to work with. Although Alice is mildly interesting (do largely to her reflections) and well played by Milla Jovovich, the rest of the characters were mostly stale archetypes. The most blatant example is the character of L.J., played by actor Mike Epps, who embodies every "black" stereotype that is popular today. This character's only true purpose is comic relief, and to that respect, he does it dryly.
The cinematography offers a wide variety of different camera shots, as well as providing a constant supply of "eye candy". In what is easily the highlight of the film, Resident Evil: Apocalypse shows some impressive-looking stunts, such as a scene of Alice running down the side of a sky scraper with either the intent to kill, or the intent to break her legs. Either way, the scene was a joy ride for the vision. Truthfully, the only badly shot scenes that come to mind are the blurry scene (unnecessary, ugly, and pointless), and the climatic fight scene at the end (badly cut and confusing). Overall, though, the cinematography was decently good, which is likely the cause for this film making so much money in the box office.
The setting was exactly what you would expect for an apocalyptic zombie movie - a big city with lots of undead people. The sets maintained a Gothic look throughout, and few scenes took place in daylight. Thankfully, the lighting was very well done, so the film maintained a dark, night-time look while simultaneously allowing the viewers to perfectly see all that was happening. Sets based on real buildings, such as schools and police stations, all looked exactly as they should. Resident Evil: Apocalypse had a big budget, and that fact is made apparent by the great sets and props.
Unfortunately, nothing saves the movie from its horrible plot. A plot should provide any movie with its base, and with a plot so holey and incoherent, everything that could have made Resident Evil: Apocalypse good simply falls apart. Despite the big budget, some reasonably well-known actors, and a license and subject-matter with a cult following, nothing can gloss over the essential flaws that keep this movie from any kind of greatness. People who prefer to see mindless exaggerated action sequences, devoid of any decent plot, will likely enjoy Resident Evil: Apocalypse. However, those interested in intelligent, well-written stories will do well to look elsewhere.
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