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Resident Evil: Apocalypse

dir: Alexander Witt
[img_assist|nid=969|title=Girls with guns is a good look|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=300]
For a director with the surname Witt, there's a fundamental lack of it
in this movie, even by the meagre standards one might apply to the
zombie / horror / computer game adaptation genre. The presence of a
few vaguely entertaining action set pieces can't really elevate this
material from the cesspool from which most of this kind of crap oozes
out from. Of the recent plethora of zombie films this is both the most
recent and the least of them. Absolutely the least.

Bizarrely enough it even makes the original look good in comparison.
Those familiar with the work of the first one's director, Paul W.S.
Anderson, know what a criminal indictment such a claim must be. Anyone
who makes Anderson look good (apart from Milla Jovovich) must be in
league with powers darker than the ones at the beck and call of the
Republican Party.

But enough about evil in the real world. This crappy movie occurs in
an alternate reality world constructed from cheap straight-to-video
production values where a place called Raccoon City exists and evil
corporations kill people for fun and profit. You know, just like in
our world. None of the cardboard cut-outs that run around this city
can be called characters. It would be a criminal abuse of the word and
any thesaurus to use it in such a context. Grammar teachers the world
over will be twitching and seizuring like there's no tomorrow if you
were to do so.

Think about the skill, the qualities it takes in producers and
directors to actively make a movie dumber and worse than an ordinarily
dumb movie. Think about the optimism it requires to think that anyone
really wanted a sequel to such a movie, or that the unwashed masses
would attend in unwashed abundance a movie just because it stars Milla
Jovovich. To think that these people haven't heard of the practice of
looking up celebrity skin on the internet…

The overwhelming impression one takes away from this experience is one
of amateurish incompetence, really. There's no two ways about it.
Genre television stuff is better directed and has a better sense of
narrative. The dialogue is woeful, a multitude of scenes go on longer
than they need to or end in inexplicable mid-sentence, the majority of
the action is poorly and cheaply shot as well as recorded on a shaky
camera held by someone with Parkinson's Disease, everyone is stupid
and little makes sense even to the people who probably made it.

After watching the film, having heard that PWS Anderson wrote the
script but had to hand over production to Witt because of having to
direct Alien Vs Predator, you'd think that he's some young clip or ad
director fresh out of film school looking to cut his teeth on a
franchise genre flick. It'd be reasonable to think that, considering
the crappy showing of all concerned. But when you find out that Witt
has been working as a second unit director and camera operator since
the early 80s you wonder how he could work for so long without gaining
any worthwhile skills whatsoever.

I mean, snapping at the heels of better directors for decades, filming
the stuff that they couldn't be bothered filming, surely he would have
wanted to prove himself by making a decent fist of it his first time
out. In the same position wouldn't you give it everything you had,
especially if this was going to be your one and only chance? You'd
think so wouldn't you...

Movie begins pretty much where the first one ended. Movie ends with
the highly optimistic expectation that they're going to re-define
shittiness by making a third instalment. That the ending makes no
sense is in the spirit of what I hesitate to call the preceding
'story' anyway, so at least that aspect is faithful.

Zombies have gone berserk in the city. The T-virus is spreading like,
uh, like zombie spit throughout the population and the authorities and
the Umbrella Corporation have sealed off the city from the rest of
what is presumably the States. The former model Milla plays Alice, a
genetically-engineered former employee of the evil Corporation, fights
for some nebulous reason that I can't quite work out but it results in
her wanting to help a bunch of people survive. In the spirit of
multiculturalism there are a bunch of bizarrely accented people in
most of the roles, which either means they filmed this in Prague
(which they didn't, it was probably Canada) or they just got a bunch
of people on the cheap. Grateful minimum-wage actors happy just to
appear in a movie, too grateful to question the badness of the
dialogue they have to say or the pointlessness of the stuff they have
to do.

It is really is bad, but it's not the most boring thing I've seen this
year. That it wasn't boring isn't a ringing endorsement in and of
itself, really. Movement and action often has the effect of
distracting a person from a story's shortcomings. All the same I could
have crapped a better script, and I could have directed a better film.
It's not arrogance that leads me to say this, gentle reader. Unless
your name is Paul WS Anderson, Uwe Bolle or Ridley Scott, you could
have done a better job as well. I'm serious. Think about it, had you
directed this film. I could have now been praising the humourous,
tongue in cheek approach that you took, along with the deft hand you
used to direct the action scenes culminating in an awe-inspiring, if
slightly cheesy ending. Also, had you been the monkey working on the
script I could have commended you for the clever lines and the witty
and pithy dialogue you created which is delivered by smart, if
somewhat stereotypical characters. Maybe I could have said something
about paying lip-service to girl-power by having a female action lead
that works and is powerful, seeing as it's a natural extension of the
process starting with Ripley in Aliens, Sarah Connor in the Terminator
films and progressing forward with shows like Buffy where female
action leads aren't just there for their tits.

Had you done a better job, I could have defended the computer game
origins of the genre by saying that just because a movie arises from
the franchise of a computer game doesn't mean it has to be crap
despite the plethora of evidence to the contrary (Tomb Raiders, House
of the Dead, Streetfighter, Mortal Kombats, Queen of the Damned
etc).
See, the criticism usually is that movies based on games are crap,
especially since in being translated to the screen it just ends up
seeming overwhelmingly naff.

Bullshit, I say to you. It's not where something comes from that
dictates whether something is going to suck or not. It's in the
implementation, in how it's all put together and the qualities of the
people doing it. Anyway, what people forget is that the kinds of games
they're talking about have plots whose formula arises from genre films
anyway.

Although based on my previous comment I could be making the case that
the reason Battlefield: Earth sucked wasn't the source material, it
was the way it was put together and the egomaniacal Madness of
Travolta. Even I, courageous soul that I am, shouldn't be so bold.

Fortune favours the bold, however, thus it doesn't favour any of the
people involved in this crapfest (except Milla). It's not particularly
funny, gory, horrific, or remotely entertaining, so it doesn't really
justify the price of admission. It doesn't pretend to be anything more
than what it is: a pretty fucking stupid action film, so for that you
have to give it some credit for achieving its modest goal. It's still
pointless compared to the much better or at least entertaining zombie
films that have come out recently, and seems even shittier in
comparison. Avoid.

In the end, however, I still blame you.

3 additional characters who should have had their entrails
ripped out from their arseholes out of 10.

--
'You motherfuckers is crazy! Look! That big motherfucker's got a
rocket launcher!' – LJ, Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Rating: