Wednesday, December 12

Resident Evil Apocalypse Review

I watched on: Netflix
The price I paid: £0
Notes: N/A

The original Resident Evil film deviated heavily from the video games it was based on. The sequel attempts to capture more of the source material. We have Jill Valentine as a central character and she’s amazing, I love how she looks and acts. Not the same personality as Jill from the games but the look is perfect and it’s nice to have a new character here. This film takes a lot of inspiration from Resident Evil 3 with Nemesis from that game making his live-action appearance. The makeup and special effects are outstanding, the zombies, Nemesis and the Lickers all look great.

Apocalypse pumps the pacing and drama from the first film into overdrive sending it into the realms of ridiculous with everything being as over the top as possible. This is not a complaint, I love this and it’s why I keep coming back to this series. Seeing Alice do a backflip off a moving motorbike as it slams into a Licker sending it into the air only for Alice to shoot the fuel tank causing the whole thing to explode is awesome! While definitely not realistic this is the sort of film where you turn your brain off, grab the popcorn, turn the volume up and just have a great time. Although the stunts in this film are the highlight the actual fight scenes are very lacking with lots of close-ups and fast cuts making everything hard to follow. This is a lazy technique to give the impression of action without actually showing any. After the first film avoided this giving us fast-paced and well-shot fight scenes this is very disappointing to see.

The plot picks up right where the last film ended with Alice and Matt escaping the underground Umbrella lab only to be captured. The pair is then infected with the T-virus and experimented with creating both Project Alice and Nemesis. Umbrella then reopens the Hive allowing the T-virus zombies to overwhelm the security team spreading the infection to the above Raccoon City. The basic driving force of the film is to escape before Umbrella destroys the city in an attempt to contain the virus. We follow 2 groups as they gradually make contact with each other and attempt to escape. Jill Valentine and her partner join up with a civilian reporter and hide out in a church where Alice makes an explosive entrance. Alongside this, we have a group of Umbrella soldiers left for dead in the city. Meanwhile, Umbrella is using the outbreak as an excuse to test both Alice and Nemesis. Once again the cast is great with two badass women in both Alice and Jill along with a few people of colour. My only issue is that most the named characters that get killed off are non-white Americans. The only person of colour making it to the end of the film is LJ, a comedic relief character. He is the stereotypical comedy, black guy. I certainly do enjoy his character and find myself sucked in by his charm. It is, however, a shame to see yet another film falling back on this racial cliché.

The thin plot allows the film to do what it’s good at which is clearly conveying information to the audience. Things are clearly laid out and you are never in the dark. The downside to this clarity is that sometimes things make no sense for the sake of keeping the plot simple and easy to follow. For example, there is a scene where a scientist tries to find his daughter trapped somewhere in the city. To do this he uses a computer program and just types in her name and it then searches the city somehow and finds her. This is beyond impossible, no photographic or facial recognition information, just a name and it works. Continuity between films also suffers from this simplicity. We learnt in the last film that when a Licker feeds on fresh DNA it mutates into a stronger hunter. In this film, however, we see the Licker eat someone and then never mutate. This will not bother everyone but it’s the sort of thing that bothers me. This makes the rules of this universe hard to follow as they can change at the writers fancy. I could give more examples of this but you get the point.

Other than lacking continuity this film also has cases where information is just not given at all. Early on there is a scene with our group of survivors moving through a graveyard when they are attacked by zombies from the graves. From the last film, we know that the T-virus can be passed on through the air, liquids or blood. The opening of Apocalypse tells us there has been no rainfall and the bodies are 6 foot underground in a sealed coffin so how did they get infected? This is clearly a case of the writers thinking about style over substance. A graveyard zombie fight scene would be cool so they write it in and don’t even think about how it makes sense. This could be avoided if you only had it raining so the virus could have soaked through the earth into the wooden coffins.

Any fans of the games may have been disappointed with how the original film strayed away from the story and events from the source material. This was because the original film was brave enough to move away from just being a retelling of the first game instead only using concepts from it. Resident Evil Apocalypse, however, rips scenes right out from the game’s cutscenes. You can always tell when this happens because it feels unnatural and forced. I will admit when I was a teenager I preferred this film over the original for this very reason. However, as an adult, these feel clunky and I find myself cringing when the plot bends around itself to set up a scene that makes no sense. Fans of the games might enjoy these but it’s not worth it in my opinion when you can just play the games. Every other film in this series has its own unique feel and identity and that’s lacking from this one as it’s just a retelling of Resident Evil 3. 

Despite all it’s flaws, I do really enjoy this film. The stupid nonsensical stunts are amazing and I’m glad that after this film the series moved towards more of these over the lazy fight scenes. I do wish they had not felt the need to rip scenes right from the games. In terms of telling its own story with a unique sense of style and identity, Apocalypse is the worst in the series.

Recommendation Rating: 6 out of 10

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