5.14.2012

V.G. Movies #18: Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]

THE HISTORY

While discussing the first Resident Evil film, I mentioned that, although the first film has almost nothing to do with the games, the sequels attempted to tie themselves a bit more into them. And none of them tried to do this harder than the first sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse. But before I can discuss that, you should first hear about the stories for some of the other games.

The second RE game follows two of the series' most popular characters, Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Raccoon City has been overrun by the T-Virus, turning the majority of its population into zombies. The game is split into two halves, depending on who you want to play the game as (meaning you'd have to play the game twice, once as each character, to get the full story--but you're doing different things, so that makes it more entertaining... though there is the ability to affect the other character's playthrough depending on how you do things, giving you up to four different scenarios and multiple variables... but I'm getting off topic). Leon's section of the story isn't currently relevant (as neither he nor Ada Wong, a woman he meets up with, are in this particular film--I'll be getting to them later this year). Claire is also not in this film, and I'll talk about her next time, but she runs into a little girl named Sherry, the daughter of scientist William Birkin--the man who invented the G-Virus (a new strain). Both teams find and protect Sherry and different times, and also discover she herself is kind of infected herself (by her father).

The third RE game, entitled Resident Evil: Nemesis, reintroduces us to former S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine as she attempts to escape the infested Raccoon City. She ends up stumbling across some special forces guys who work for Umbrella named Carlos Oliveira, Mikhail Victor, and Nicholai Ginovaef. And all of them end up occasionally battling against an "organic bio-weapon" called Nemesis, who is programmed to go around killing off all S.T.A.R.S. members. After a bunch of stuff happens (including Nicholai revealing himself to be a bad guy), they discover that the US government is going to nuke Raccoon City to stop the infestation and cover it all up.

While technically the fourth game in the series, Resident Evil: Code Veronica is not considered the fourth (as there is a completely separated RE4, which coincidentally won tons of awards the year it came out). It's a bit of a sequel to the second game, following Claire's storyline from that game. But all you need to know here is a family that is introduced known as the Ashfords who experiment with a different form of the T-virus.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can discuss the actual movie. As I said in the last article, each sequel actually ended up making more money than the last. But does that mean this film is any better, especially since it's tying itself into the games? Well...

THE FILM

I've seen all the RE films in theater, but I only own the first two. So that will at least give you some inclination of how I feel about this particular installment. However, I haven't watched it in years, so my thoughts might have changed. So what do I think now? Well, the story this time is basically picking up right where the first film left off. Alice (Milla Jovovich) has woken up in a Raccoon City facility, and the city itself has been overrun by the T-virus. And while there is supposedly an evacuation going on, a young girl named Angela Ashford (Sophie Vavasseur), daughter of Umbrella scientist and T-virus creator Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris), has become lost in the city. He ends up contacting some of the only survivors to help him find his daughter before she (and the rest of them) is killed. The rest include Raccoon City police officer Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and news reporter Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt); Umbrella soldiers Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and Nicholai Ginovaeff (Zack Ward); and Alice and small-time crook L.J. (Mike Epps). Unfortunately, zombies and a soon-to-hit nuke aren't the only things they have to worry about. Alice's acquaintance from the previous film, Matt, has completely transformed into a monstrous weapon called Nemesis, which has been programmed to destroy all the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members before wiping out all evidence with aforementioned nuke.

Granted that I haven't played any of the games, none of the adaptation stuff bothered me. Of course, I know enough to know that the movie missed the atmosphere of the source material completely. The film is not suspenseful, not even horror. It's an action movie, pure and simple. In fact, you could easily argue that all the movie is is a sequence of action set-pieces... and that's about it. Now, some of those set-pieces are cool, others are decent, and some are just silly. But for the most part, the action generally works.

What doesn't work are the characters (for the most part). For one, there are way too many primary characters, too many for there to be any good focus or character development. You come to know or care nothing about any of these people. Alice you only know because of the first film, but she's a totally different entity here due to the experimentation on her. Jill is just... there for fan service. She looks like the character in the games, and that's it. There is no depth to her whatsoever. Carlos is likable, but just like the others, you know nothing about him. L.J., too, is likable as the comic relief. You know the least about him, but at least he serves a purpose (one liners and laughs). He has the best lines in the movie.

And then there are the plot holes. I guess I never picked up on these before (except one--how the hell did they build that gate perimeter around Raccoon City in like... a few hours? In fact, almost every five minutes you're left with another "How did...?" question. The characters do things they shouldn't, either because the actions themselves are stupid or because there should be absolutely no way the characters would have the prior knowledge to begin this action in the first place. I don't think I've ever seen so many plot holes or logic gaps in a movie before.

On the plus side, the movie did have some good ideas. Turning Matt from the first film into Nemesis was nice, giving a good emotional connection with Alice for this film. Also, the film gives us an origin to the T-virus itself with the Ashfords (which are a kind of mix between the Ashfords and the Birkins of the games).

But there were just too many things that didn't make sense. Too many plot/logic holes. The characters were pointless, as essentially Alice could have done the entire mission on her own. There didn't need to be 3 completely different groups brought in just to find one little girl, especially when they knew exactly where she was at to begin with. I would have accepted Carlos, too, since he's at least useful. The visuals are decent, and the Nemesis doesn't look too bad. If you're going to watch this, do it for some intriguing action set-pieces and a few fun one-liners from L.J., but that's it. If you think about anything in this movie, it'll be lost to you.


Feed Me, Seymour!

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