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Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Resident Evil 2

My name is Alice and I remember everything.

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 94 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

It has become something of a truism that video games – even good ones – do not adapt well to film, as cinema is an essentially passive medium where the joystick is replaced with the popcorn bucket. On the other hand, films ABOUT video games can often be excellent (‘Existenz’, ‘Avalon’, Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, even ‘Tron’). Occupying a middle ground somewhere between these two cinematic forms are films like Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil (2002) and Uwe Boll’s ‘House of the Dead’ (2003), which are adapted from video games that themselves borrowed considerably from previous zombie movies, so that they still retain a certain cinematic quality. Neither of these films was exactly a masterpiece, but nor did either of them seem so very different from the various other non-game-based zombie films to have emerged in the last few years.

Of course, one thing that games, films and zombies all have in common is a habit of multiplying in number, and as sure as there were additional instalments to the first ‘Resident Evil’ game, there were bound to be sequels to the first film – and so we have ‘Resident Evil: Apocalypse’. Paul W.S. Anderson, who is easily dismissed for his other game adaptations (‘Mortal Kombat’, Alien Vs. Predator) but whose ‘Event Horizon’ proved that he knows what it takes to frighten the bejesus out of the viewer, has returned to pen the script, but this time leaves the direction to Alexander Witt (previously known for his work as a second unit photographer on big action pics like Pirates of the Caribbean, XXX and The Bourne Identity). The result is a furiously paced, dumb-assed monster movie which gains in sheer unadulterated daftness what it loses in gaming interactivity.

Picking up exactly where the first film left off, Alice (a character invented for the film franchise, and played again by Milla Jovovich) awakes in a deserted hospital with bio-genetically enhanced powers (to kick zombie butt, basically), only to discover that the undead hordes that had been infected with T-virus in the underground laboratories of the Umbrella Corporation have now broken out into Raccoon City, which has been securely cordoned by the authorities to prevent any further spread. Racing to get out of the city before it is nuked, Alice joins forces with Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory, who has one of the most jawdroppingly over-the-top entrances ever seen) and Carlos Oliveira (Oded Fehr) – both familiar characters from the game – as well as the streetsmart L.J. (Mike Epps, hilariously parodying every part ever played by L.L. Cool J.). Wheelchair-bound Dr Charles Ashford (Jared Harris) agrees to help them if they first rescue his lost daughter Angie (Sophie Vavasseur) – but far more dangerous than all the zombies, ‘lickers’ and rotting rottweilers that get in their way is the bio-engineered experimental soldier named Nemesis whose powers the military, led by wicked Major Cain (Thomas Kretschmann), has decided to test out against any trapped rescuers and more particularly against Alice herself.

‘Resident Evil: Apocalypse’ is neither scary nor especially gory, but it is faster, and funnier, than the first film, and never takes itself seriously enough to merit criticism for all its silly excess. And best of all, there is no need to wait for the game based on the film to come out.

It's Got: Short-skirted heroines, fights in churches and cemeteries, zombie children (à la ‘Dawn of the Dead’), corporate paranoia, social satire, nuclear explosions, and every horror fan’s favourite line: “we’re going to have to split up to search this place”.

It Needs: To be gorier – this is, after all, a zombie movie.


A true guilty pleasure – as braindead as a zombie, but much faster moving.