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|Resident Evil: Apocalypse|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Alexander Witt|
scr Paul WS Anderson
with Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Jared Harris, Thomas Kretschmann, Sophie Vavasseur, Raz Adoti, Mike Epps, Sandrine Holt, Zack Ward, Eric Mabius, Iain Glen
release US 10.Sep.04, UK 8.Oct.04
Zombies everywhere: Fehr, Jovovich and Vavasseur
The 2002 original was a noisy, unscary mess, so I didn't have much hope for this sequel. But a new director gives life to the series, seizing on the strong elements (characters and story) while avoiding the annoying filmmaking style of the original director (Anderson, now writer-producer). The result is still ludicrous, but it's very watchable!
We begin where the last film left off, as Alice (Jovovich) and Matt (Mabius) lock down the underground Hive to protect Raccoon City from the hordes of undead who were reanimated by a viral warfare agent. But a bunch of Umbrella Corp workers open the doors, like morons, and let the zombies out. While chaos consumes the city, we follow a few security workers (Guillory, Fehr, Kretchmann), a scientist (Harris) looking for his daughter (Vavasseur), and a souped-up Alice, who's been given genetic modifications to allow her to more effectively fight the undead.
Once again, the film plays like a videogame, with increasing levels of action and set pieces that test the characters' skills. The overall plot is cleverly constructed, but it pauses continually for utterly illogical battle scenes (if a nuke was falling from the sky, would you pause to see which of your mutants could win a hand-to-hand battle? Or would you board the helicopter and get out of there?). The result isn't scary, but it's exciting and extremely gripping.
Jovovich seems to be having a great time, bravely enduring all the outlandishly silly stunts, appearing once again in just a tea towel (or less), and glowering rather a lot. Other cast members get to do more actual acting, although poor Guillory never has a chance as the story's second-rung action girl. But the best thing is that director Witt actually manages, amid the chaos, to centre on the characters and create people we can cheer for, mourn when they get swarmed by zombies, marvel at when we discover their (many) secrets and even, shockingly, get rather excited about the prospect of a third film. The ending is a genuinely inventive cliffhanger that leaves us wanting much more.
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