Second trailer from RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION. With Milla Jovavich, Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Bingbing Li. Written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, based on the popular videogame franchise.
Screen Gems releases the fifth installment in the zombie apocalypse franchise, produced by Constantin Films and Davids Films/Impact Pictures. This first trailer, an amusing parody of commercials plugging the globalization aspects of information technology, suggests that writer-director Paul W. S. Anderson has upped the ante, shooting for something on the epic scale of James Cameron’s AVATAR. In fact, even if you are not a fan of the previous films inspired by the popular shoot-em-up video game, you may find yourself feeling a twinge of anticipation. Milla Jovavich returns as Alice. Also in the cast: Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Sienna Guillory, Eded Fehr, Bingbing Li.
Release date: September 14, 2012.
In a brief interview with New York Magazine, RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE star Milla Jovovich confirmed that plans are indeed underway to make a fifth entry in the computer video game-based zombie action series, which was the number one film for its premiere this past weekend.
She also said that while her husband, director/writer Paul W.S. Anderson already has some ideas for the sequel, they intend engage the fan base for the games and films.
“We’ve been talking to a lot of fans on Twitter and stuff, so it’s probably going to be one of the first movies where we really talk to fans to see what they want, and what characters they want to see. It’s going to be a more interactive process.”
Is this a bold step toward democratizing the film making process or a pandering towards the sometimes highly critical and vocal audiences for the films? Arguments could be made for both sides of the issue. It will be interesting to see if this idea is actually played out in the months to come.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE made $28,696,500 in the US for its opening weekend, and another $42,348,610 Worldwide, bringing the total to over $71 million so far for the $60 million dollar production.
Figures via BoxOfficeMojo.com
Seldom scary and never exciting, RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE nevertheless deliver a few morsels of mindless entertainment.
Hard experience and profound disappointment have taught us not to expect too much from the RESIDENT EVIL films, which tend to be slick but thoughtless, shoot-em-up variations on the familiar zombie mythology as laid down by George A. Romero. By those diminished standards, RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE is actually not too bad – which is not to say it’s good, just that in its over-eagerness to provide an endless profusion of audience-pleasing action, it occasionally delivers a halfway decent set piece. It’s seldom scary, and it’s never very exciting, but it does achieves its goal of delivering a little mindless entertainment.
Although officially based on the Capcom videogame, RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE betrays numerous other influences. It’s part zombie movie, part anime-action film, part MATRIX knock-off. There’s even a little Dario Argento thrown in (the computer-generated effects showing an interior view of the aftermath of a hypodermic injection might suggest CSI, but it’s probably closer to images from Argento’s OPERA – a suspicion confirmed when we start seeing bullets fly by the lends in extreme close-up before achieving their splattery results). In fact, there’s so much in the film, that there almost has to be something to like. You just have to wait for it.
And wait you do. It’s no accident that writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson launches with a big action scene (multiple clones of Alice [Milla Jovovich] attacking the underground stronghold of the Umbrella corporation, which is responsible for the T-virus that brought about the zombie apocalypse), because after that, the film wanders around aimlessly, trying to find a story to tell before finally settling into a familiar scenario of a few survivors holed up in a relatively safe place – in this case a prison, instead of a shopping mall (as in DAWN OF THE DEAD).
After that, there is not much to do except hope to hook up with some other survivors – if any still exist. It’s the same old dilemma we have seen other characters face in this situation, and Romero pretty much used up any life left in it, till there was nothing left for SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD earlier this year – and the idea feels twice as dead now. *
But really none of that matters. The minimal story is just an excuse to deliver enough cool scenes to cut together into a cool trailer. You almost sigh a breath of relief when the zombies break into the prison – ending the tedium and forcing the characters to start shooting. The ensuing chaos results in several nice moments, such as Claire Redfield (Ali Larter)’s battle with the Axeman (Ray Olubowale) – who pretty much shows up just so he can get in a fight.
Anderson knows that he doesn’t need his script to justify this kind of stuff; it’s justified because that’s what the audience paid to see. He’s not even particularly interested in making some kind of pop art statement about female empowerment; we just take it for granted that we see two tough chick running, shooting, and fighting because it looks cool, and who cares about feminism?
Instead, Anderson focuses his effort on shooting it all in super-slow-motion, with lots of spraying water and flying glass – all looking really beautiful in 3D. The process – thankfully, not a post-production conversion – packs an added punch to the bullets and debris that go flying through the air – sometimes off the screen and into the audience’s collective face. The 3D is not perfect – it is better at adding depth than at projecting objects out of the screen – but it is better than anything we have seen since AVATAR.
Anderson is at his best when showing off his 3D toys for the pretty effects they can achieve. His approach is far too superficial to generate any real suspense – you never really fear for the characters, and if one of them does become zombie chow, it’s not as if he even pretends to expect you to care. So instead, it’s all a question of showing off flashy technique in order to achieve the expected “Ain’t it cool!” response. This works up to a point, but ultimately it feels like someone trying way to hard to meet and beat the Wachowski Brothers at their own game (which, come to think of it, was a goal that defeated the Wachowskis as well, when it came to the MATRIX sequels).
In a way, Anderson’s best sequence is the opening titles, which play out over a rainy sidewalk in Japan: as a woman stands strangely still and silent, passersby move in and out of frame, obscuring the credits that seem to float in the air. The payoff – she turns into a zombie and attacks – is predictable, but it leads to a memorable zoom-back to a wide shot of the globe, as the dot representing this first victim expands into a black stain spreading wider and wider, eventually enveloping almost everything. It’s visual flash of the most ostentatious kind, but for once in the film, it perfectly makes a narrative point, demonstrating the spread of the T-virus faster than any montage of incidents ever could.
Although there are one or two good jumps, the horror element of RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE is pushed rather far onto the periphery, with the zombies mostly outside the prison. When they do get some screen time, they are spruced up with CGI to add tentacle-like appendages that sprout from the mouth. There is a faintly desperate air to the effect – as if trying to achieve something different from the same old walking dead – and yet the image is just bizarre enough to be truly startling, especially when the revelation is carefully staged and time to provide some of the film’s few genuinely startling moments.
Too bad the characterizations and performances are too flat to take RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE’s popcorn flick dynamic and raise it to the level of a an exciting adventure. We don’t expect Shakespeare, but we don’t even get the enjoyable thrill of good pulp adventure: the characters are not broadly drawn archetypes; they are barely drawn at all. They’re really just there because somebody’s got to be jumping through the CGI hurdles that Anderson tosses around the screen.
Jovovich and Larter pretty much walk through, relying on their looks and apparently so pleased with getting to do the action that delivering dialogue was almost an afterthought. Boris Kodjoe shows a little charisma as Luther West (so much so that when his character apparently dies, it’s no surprise that he returns). Kim Coates makes a fine creep as the self-centered movie producer who still wants to run the show even though the world as he knew it is gone. Unfortunately, Shawn Roberts is a dud as the villain, delivering flat line readings in a voice apparently meant to echo Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) in THE MATRIX.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE is an oddly comforting movie. You might think that the end of almost all human life on Earth would be cause for some existential angst, but not to worry. The presence of zombies and villains is actually an antidote to despair, providing an unending recreational workout that ends up looking like the world’s glossiest exercise music video. It’s not much of an achievement, but it could have been worse. And really, the scene of Alice jumping off the rooftop, with zombie following her, lemming-like, to their doom, is worth the price of admission.
Against all odds, Anderson pulls off a small coup at the finale: a cliff-hanger promising an action-packed sequel. As frustrating as it is to see the only real excitement related to what we hope to see in the next film, the teaser does elicit some small anticipation, rather than a groan of dread.
- There are other touches that seem like direct references to Romero’s zombie films. For instance, in what feels like a clever inside joke, Anderson builds to the revelation of a heavily armored vehicle – a la the Dead Reckonig from LAND OF THE DEAD – and then discards it, just to subvert expectations.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (Screen Gems, September 10, 2010). Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Music by tomandandy. Cinematography by Glen MacPherson. Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Spencer Locke, Boris Kodjoe, Wentworth Miller, Kacey Barnfield, Norman Yeung, Fulvio Cecere, Ray Olubowale.
Featurette with interviews and clips from the 3D film RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, including actresses Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter and writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson. Opens Friday, September 10.
Screen Gems releases the fourth film based on the popular video game about zombies resulting from some evil corporate malfeasance. Considering that we have already been through RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004) and RESIDENT EVIL EXTINCTION (2007), you have to wonder what’s left. Well it involves our old champion Alice (Milla Jovovich) on a mission to protect survivors from the walking dead, while also hatching a plan to destroy the Umbrella Corporation. Back in the director’s chair for the first time since the first RESIDENT EVIL (2002) is Paul W.S. Anderson, who nevertheless contributed the scripts (as he does again here). The supporting cast includes Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Spencer Locke, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Kacey Barnfield, and Boris Kodjoe. Music by tomandandy. Cinematography by Glen MacPherson. Release date: September 10, 2010.
As the dog days of summer approach, its only natural that the studios begin to unload their dogs on unsuspecting moviegoers. For instance, after 20th Century-Fox passed on Lucasfilm’s made for TV-movie THE CLONE WARS, Warner Bros picked it up, but decided to dump it on the market last week, in an effort to squeeze every last drop of money out of loyal STAR WARS fans.
This week, it seemed like Universal might be attempting to do the same thing, after bringing us the impressive triumphs of WANTED and THE INCREDIBLE HULK earlier in the summer. So it’s quite a pleasant surprise to report that they were saving the best for last. It turns out that DEATH RACE is quite an intelligent action movie, with first-rate acting, scripting and producing chops (Paula Wagner and Roger Corman) behind it.
It will easily power Universal across the finish line to become the major studio winner at this summer box-office stakes. And it’s certainly the Gold metal champion among this week’s new releases, as Joan Allen and Ian McShane turn in the kind of nuanced performances that in any other kind of movie would make them top contenders for Oscar gold. But like Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT, it seems very unlikely any of these fine actors will get nominated. Let’s not forget that even RETURN OF THE KING (absurd as it may seem) received no nominations for acting!
In any case, DEATH RACE is not at that exalted level, but it is certainly notable as Roger Corman’s first production where he has had anywhere near the kind of Hollywood mega-budget (over $50 million) that almost all futuristic action thrillers now routinely cost. In a career spanning 54-years, Corman’s biggest budget was probably his last directorial effort, FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND. And in actuality, Corman’s own input into this re-make was likely very minimal, although he still gets the rather unusual credit, “Based on the film DEATH RACE 2000 produced by Roger Corman,” along with credit as executive producer. In any case, Corman’s name on the picture can only be considered of great publicity value, since he’s easily had the greatest influence of any producer still alive in Hollywood, in terms of discovering and influencing both directors and actors. If you happen to one of the group of directors or actors who hasn’t actually work for Roger Corman, it seems more than likely you were at least influenced by one or more of his movies! Certainly that is the case for such famous non-Corman alumni as Tim Burton, Sam Hamm, Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino and obviously Paul W. S. Anderson.
“I was a big fan of the original Corman movie,” admits Anderson. “I saw it on video when I was still living in England as a teenager. It was the movie your parents didn’t want you to see, because it was just packed with senseless violence and unmotivated nudity. So, of course, I just loved it.”
Anderson wisely decided to ditch the highly satirical tone that Paul Bartel brought to the original movie, but certainly not the fun. The end result is a re-imagining of several standard Hollywood genres, including the prison movie, the car chase movie, and just a dash of social conscience, by asking the question “Could this ever happen here?” Given that the first title of DEATH RACE is: “In 2012 the United States economy has collapsed,” It would appear the answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” Not only that, it seems like DEATH RACE is perfectly positioned to tap into the current zeitgeist, as economic news gets grimmer by the day. The truth is, whatever your politics, the opening title of DEATH RACE may prove to be far from fiction, four years from now.
To explain, let me digress, to point out another “frightening” new movie, that is also opening this weekend. However it’s actually a documentary, called I.O.U.S.A. While we all bury our collective heads in the sand, this movie notes that as a country, America, during the last 8 years has gone into debt to the tune of over 3 Trillion dollars! Now, how could any sane person pretend that everything is fine in this country, when we have that kind of debt to pay off? Of course, the republican nominee for President, who is worth well over $100 million dollars, is against raising any taxes, at any level, to bring down this crushing debt load. He’s also so out of touch with reality that he can’t even recall that he owns SEVEN luxury homes in four different states! But no matter, he’s a man of and for the working people, even he if he’s never actually met very many of them!
Meanwhile, to return to the hero of DEATH RACE, as the movie opens, like many Americans, his job has just disappeared. The factory he works at has just closed it’s doors, and its outsourced all it’s jobs overseas. So Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is given his last paycheck of $300–quite ironically in what may be the final days of John McCain’s first term, in 2012!
With this trenchant opening, Paul Anderson precisely sets up a not-very-far- fetched vision of America’s future. It’s also a clever riff on all of the genre action movies by one of Roger Corman’s own favorite directors, Howard Hawks. Hawks own early sound genre movies, THE CRIMINAL CODE (with Boris Karloff) and THE CROWD ROARS (with James Cagney) echoed the disastrous times of the depression era and President Herbert Hoover, before the election of 1932 brought America’s economy back on track with the “New Deal” policies of incoming Democratic President, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In explaining why he set his movie a mere four years in the future, Anderson says, “It’s a slightly rougher world than we live in now, but still very much recognizable. The explosion in crime rates and the fact that reality television is big have led to the Death Race. It’s the ultimate in reality television: nine racers who race to the death on this sealed course. They’re the gladiators of our time, and the racetrack is their coliseum.”
Anderson’s script can easily be criticized for taking a group of well-worn movie clichés we’ve seen many times before, but that is actually part of his point. It’s how he subverts, combines and amalgamates these familiar genre elements into a uniquely new whole, that actually gives them renewed life and makes the movie so much fun. Of the many character stereotypes, we get the evil Prison warden, and the vicious Russian mother-fucker who wants to kill the hero, but how many Prison Wardens have you seen who are prim and proper ladies dressed in immaculately tailored skirt suits? And how many bad-ass black inmates have you seen who are gay?
It’s these quirky details that give the film it’s extra frisson and make it such a subversive experience. Plus, the basic structure of Anderson’s script has been quite carefully worked out. It’s neatly divided into a pre-credit sequence, followed by a prologue, and three acts. The Death Race itself takes places over three days, inside the sealed off Terminal Island Prison. So between each day of the action-packed racing, we have a chance to rest and visit with the characters. What’s even more impressive is, unlike many of today’s directors raised on MTV videos, Anderson actually seems to know that there is such a thing as a dissolve. After the first race we get a couple of beautiful dissolves that perfectly punctuate the more static dialogue scenes, that come after the kinetic action of the first leg of the Death Race.
Actually, Anderson sets such a high bar of action during the first race, I actually was thinking to myself, “What can he possibly do to top this for the second day?” It turns out Anderson does manage to top it, with a little surprise called the “Dreadnaught,” and the less I say about it, the better, except it certainly makes anything you’ve seen in THE ROAD WARRIOR look tame by comparison. By the third day, things do seem to get a bit repetitious, but then suddenly, we get another big surprise that takes us satisfactorily through the end of the film.
To give any of these plot details away would be near criminal, so suffice it to say, I found the various twists and turns of the race to be quite unexpected and very enjoyable. Of course, I hadn’t seen the trailer that apparently gives many important plot points away, but that seems to be typical for most movies these days. I think it’s really a very poor way to market a picture that has any kind of surprise elements in it. Can you imagine if PSYCHO were marketed as the movie where a meek motel clerk is revealed as a serial killer?
In a movie like this, usually the actors are upstaged by the true stars, which are the stunts and cars themselves. I must say, that’s not the case in DEATH RACE. Here we get a perfectly cast group of actors who all do superlative work. At the same time, there is no doubt Americans have a long history of being in love with their cars, and while I haven’t paid any attention to fast and sexy cars since I was a teenager, it appears Anderson must have taken a page from Roger Corman’s often-stated desire to include a “subconscious theme” in his movies. Certainly any man who ever was a boy that sees the fabulous collection of customized cars on view in DEATH RACE, will surely get a real adrenaline rush and bring him back to his AMERICAN GRAFFITI days.
Among the nine seminal cars featured in the Death Race are:
Jason Statham’s 2006 Ford Mustang GT, known as Frankenstein’s Monster—armed with a ¾-inch steel tombstone and two mounted mini-guns that spit out 3,000 rounds per minute.
Tyrese Gibson’s armor-plated 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4WD. “My car was a reflection of my character in the movie,” said Gibson. “I have the biggest car because I’m a bully.”
Pachenko drives a 1966 Buick Riviera chop top, lovingly known as the “Death Machine.”
Travis Colt’s 1989 XJS Jaguar V12, with two M2s on the hood front.
Grimm’s 300 monster car is a 2006 Chrysler 300C with three MAG 58s rocket-tube machine guns on the hood front and hellfire missiles on the back.
A 1978 Porsche 911, outfitted with four hellfire missiles on the roof and four mini-rocket clusters on the hood.
A 1989 BMW 735i made to look like an aircraft cockpit. The design team imagined one-half would be cut out of it, and they put the navigator behind the driver (with a mini-gun on the side) to create a different silhouette.
A 1971 Buick Riviera “boat tail” with a pointed back nose, quite the contrast to Pachenko’s ’66 Riviera chop top—with its points on either side, front and back.
A 1979 Pontiac Trans Am with a cattle guard, .50-cal. gun on the hood front and .308-cal. mini-gun.
Finally, since this is a high budget remake of what is essentially an exploitation movie, its too bad Universal’s publicity dept. didn’t let Roger Corman lend a hand with some of his classic ad lines. The best tagline Universal could come up with was: “Get ready for a Killer Race.”
Why not use some of the really classic exploitation ad lines, such as these actual gems from past Corman movies:
They ride their hot throbbing machines to a brutal climax of violence!
AMES: He had a chip on his shoulder, a monkey on his back and a hate for the world!
MACHINE GUN JOE: Swinging a chain in each hand and lusting for action!
PACHENKO: The neo-Nazi. Show him a badge and he sees red!
DEATH RACE Written and Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. Based on the movie Death Race 2000 produced by Roger Corman and written by Robert Thom and Charles B. Griffith. Produced by Jeremy Bolt, Paul W. S. Anderson and Paula Wagner. Executive producers: Roger Corman, Dennis E. Jones, Don Granger and Ryan Kavanaugh. Director of photography: Scott Kevan. Production designer: Paul Denham Austerberry. Music: Paul Haslinger. Costume designer: Gregory Mah. Editor: Niven Howie.
Starring: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson, Natalie Martinez, Max Ryan, Jason Vargas.
This film is yet more evidence that, like the walking dead who shuffle across the screen, the zombie sub-genre refuses to die a peaceful death. In a way, this is a good thing: films as diverse as relatively lavish LAND OF THE DEAD and the virtually no-budget AUTOMATON TRANSFUSIONprove that there is life in those rotting corpses yet. In the case of RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION, however, one begins to realize that the franchise is becoming almost as mindless as the zombies it portrays, lumbeirng on with only repetitive instinct,while all true vitality has long since passed away. This film is not exactly awful (it’s no worse than the recent HALLOWEEN), but it lacks the ferocious intensity that a truly good horror film should have, and its attempt to pass itself off as a post-apocalyptic action-adventure falls short of what your average low-budget cult movie could achieve.
More or less ignoring the ending of RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (there is a lip service explanation late in the film), the new film does not pick up with Alice (Milla Jovovich) under surveillance by the evil corporation responsible for the virus that turns people into zombies; instead, we are introduced into your standard post-apocalyptic world, where a handful of remaining humans struggle for survival now that civilization has fallen. The script by Paul W. S. Anderson shows a few fleeting glimpses of promise, beginning with a sly opening sequence of Alice waking up and trying to escape from the lab – only to be killed by one of the many booby-traps awaiting her. The revelation that this Alice is one of many clones who have met their deaths looking for a way out, is a clever nod to the movie’s videogame origins, in which the player’s on-screen character is frequently “killed,” only to rise again and take another crack at over-leaping the pitfall that felled him/her previously. Continue reading “Resident Evil: Extinction (2007): Film Review”
In case you missed the first Resident Evil film, the story involved a virus that gets loose in a secret facility, killing its victims and turning them into zombies. The expert team sent in to clean up the mess—in the great tradition of crack experts—proved a poor match for the problem, ending up by and large killed in horrible ways. Nevertheless, it seemed that they had succeeded in containing the virus—until the film’s coda, when our heroine Alice (Milla Jovavich) awakened from some kind of secret experiment and stepped into a world apparently overrun by zombies. Like a good sequel RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE picks up this thread and plays it out, taking elements from the first film expanding them onto a much larger canvas; the film even backtracks a little bit to show us how things got so bad while Alice was locked inside the lab.
That’s the good news. The not so good news is that, despite the implication of the final shot in the first film, and despite the word “apocalypse” in the new title, the sequel has nothing to do with the end of the world. Instead, the zombie phenomenon is limited to Raccoon City, which is effectively quarantined by the Umbrella Corporation, the evil company responsible for the virus in the first place; and the plot more or less follows the third video game in the series Resident Evil: Nemesis, as our character seek to rescue a scientists daughter and find a way out of the city before it gets nuked to prevent further spread of the virus. A city overrun by zombies is not a bad premise for an action-horror movie, but it isn’t quite “apocalyptic,” either. So don’t go expecting Dawn of the Dead type despair over the possible extinction of the human race; just sit back and enjoy an amiable thrill ride, which is all this film wants to be. Like its predecessor, it succeeds.
In the manner of good genre films, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE works because it fulfills the lowest common denominator demands of its intended audience, serving up the required elements in a fast-paced, entertaining, and even stylish fashion without getting bogged down in unnecessary distractions like intricate plotting and believable characterizations. You immediately know whom you’re supposed to like, and whom you hate, and after that there is little development. This is a film in which the most important thing about the lead character is how well she handles a gun and how good she looks while doing it. In fact, with the addition of Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), the sequel offers us two gun-toting chicks instead of one. You might wonder who too similar characters will interact (will Jill and Alice bond, or will they turn competitive because they are too much alike?), but the film isn’t going to worry about that; it’s simply going to revel in showing them off as they blast their opponents without breaking a sweat, and for brief moments the film teeters on the bring of turning into a shooting gallery contest: who will bag the most zombies?
There are some interesting plot developments that prevent the film from descending into nothing but repetitive shoot-outs. We learn that the T-virus originally had a benign purpose (it revives and strengthens dead cells, which can help crippled people regain the use of damaged limbs). Alice has been infected with the virus. And along with the zombie humans and zombie dogs we saw in the first film, there is now a new menace, called Nemesis, the mutant result of the same experiment that turned Alice into an unstoppable zombie killer. This provides the opportunity to interject a Terminator-like threat into the mix (slow and unstoppable, like a tank), and the script (by Paul Anderson) even contrives (somewhat lamely) to have Alice go mano-a-mano with what is, in a sense her twin. As hokey as the moment is, the script redeems itself with a nice twist about the identity of Nemesis; unfortunately, the fight itself falls flat, revealing one of the major weaknesses of the film.
As much fun as the action and horror is, director Alexander Witt relies too much on jumbled camera angles and fast cutting, which sometimes prevent you from seeing what is actually happening. This kind of technique is fine if the point is that things are happening too fast to keep track of, but more often it is used to obscure the fact that the fights are not particularly well staged. The showdown between Alice and Nemesis is a perfect example. The right approach should have been obvious: Alice is fast and agile; Nemesis is slow and strong. The fight should have been staged in long shots, with overhead camera angles, showing us Alice darting, feinting, running circles and figure-eights around her opponent while looking for an opening to launch an attack (float like a butterfly, sting like a bee). Instead, the editing goes cut-cut-cut-cut-cut while the two characters hit and kick at each other with little noticeable difference in strategy, even though they have obvious physical differences that should require them to fight quite differently.
This is one of those cases where flashy technique turns out to be not at all stylish, nor very effective. Fortunately, director Witt is better at handling the explosions and gunfire, and Anderson’s script is more fun that the one he himself directed for this year’s Alien Vs. Predator. The Resident Evil franchise will never surpass George Romero’s Living Dead films in importance; in his original trilogy (Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead), Romero hit on the metaphor of ghouls as a new society rising to devour – literally – the old. You could fight them, but your ranks shrank as the living died and joined the other side, forcing a horrible choice: fight to retain your individuality and risk having your body eviscerated by the group mob, or give up your mind and personality to become one of the enemy, a mindless zombie with no memory of who you used to be. RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE doesn’t add much of interest to these established genre elements, but it does put them to good visceral effect. And to some extent, that’s what genre filmmaking is all about: finding a formula and doing it well. RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE is not going to win any converts or cross over to mainstream viewers, but for fans it is an enjoyably well-made addition to the zombie sub-genre.
RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004). Directed by Alexander Witt. Screenplay by Paul W. S. Anderson, based on the videogame. Cast: Milla Jovavich Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretshman, Sophie Vavasseur, Raz Adoti, Jared Harris, Mike Epps