It's no secret that I hated the first RESIDENT EVIL, a film so devoid of character and story that even those who liked it could only use "But it's just like the game!" as a defense. And solely for purposes of this blog I've now seen 2004's RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE, which has a broader scope and bigger setpieces than its predecessor, yet still remains as engaging as a tampon commercial.
There's surprisingly little zombie action this time around, although the plot gets underway thanks to a breach in the Hive of the earlier movie that brings about an undead apocalypse (credit goes to director Alexander Witt for not blatantly running off with George Romero's concepts, though there is a nod to DAY OF THE DEAD using the newspaper headline "The Dead Walk" that in the context of this film feels more like an insult than an homage). The focus this time out revolves around survivors Milla Jovovich--returning from the first movie and just as unconvincing as an action heroine--Oded Fehr, Mike Epps as a jive-talking African-American stereotype, and Sienna Guillory as a Lara Croft look-alike among others (can I just interject with a question here? Why are the female leads in this movie dressed so skimpily? Yeah, I know they're being true to the game, which is designed to appeal to the vast number of boys who play it, but seriously, if you're going out to exterminate a horde of zombies would you really forgo covering yourself in favor of short-shorts and a bare midriff? Sure, it's pleasing to the eye, but that annoying analytical part of my brain just wouldn't let it go) as they deal with the mutated beast Nemesis, an admittedly cool-looking creature with an impressive arsenal on hand but all the marksmanship of an Imperial stormtrooper.
I realize it's based on a video game, but would it have been too much to ask to add a story, something to enhance the Raccoon City backdrop the production team painstakingly recreated? I suppose big action sequences are to be our compensation for the plot-light proceedings, but Witt offers up nothing new or exciting, no matter how many CGI squibs he fires off. The scene in which Jovovich and co. fend off a pack of reanimated dogs comes close to being interesting, until it dissolves into utter ridiculousness. And are we really supposed to believe that wimpy little Eric Mabius is now the mighty Nemesis?
Maybe the legions of undiscriminating video geeks who apparently value visual fidelity over basic storytelling will keep this franchise profitable, but APOCALYPSE is the kind of bland, one-note movie that's forgotten as soon as you hit the Eject button.
(Special thanks to Dustin Stewart for his assistance with this blog.)