There is something almost noble about the way those responsible for RESIDENT EVIL picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and decided, what the heck, lets give it another shot. Bad reviews didnt stop them. Common sense didnt, either. Hence, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE. And yet, isnt one definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?
If you missed that first film, and lucky you if that be the case, never fear, our heroine, Alice (Milla Jovovich), delivers a lovely précis to kick things off this time. Theres the evil Umbrella Corporation and its super secret underground fortress, dubbed The Hive, where a terrible virus was created, got loose, and killed off pretty much everyone down there. The exceptions, were Alice, of course, the head of Umbrellas security, and her honey, Matt. The problem, to quote Alice, is that the dead didnt stay dead, but reanimated with a voracious appetite for the living. Alice managed to seal The Hive and its nasty undead inhabitants only to be taken prisoner by Umbrella along with Matt in order to become medical experiments. As things pick up in the sequel, Umbrella has decided that it might be fun to see exactly what went wrong with in The Hive, opens the seal, and before you can say oops, its all zombies all the time.
To be scrupulously fair, this excursion into the nefarious doings of the Umbrella Corporation has tried something new. Those in charge looked at the earlier film and decided, among other things, that there was just too darn much plot in the first flick. So this time its just one tedious mutant smackdown after another punctuated with explosions, gunfire, and the recently dead chowing down on the soon to be not living. The flimsy excuse for all this has Alice and her new friends, including she-warrior Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), attempt to cross Raccoon City in search of a scientists daughter who is their one-way ticket to safer climes away from the zombie hordes.
None of this, not the banter, not the action sequences, not even the special effects is executed with élan, grace, wit, or even originality. Our intrepid team of good guys does things like stop to answer pay phones while on the run from the slithery things, other Umbrella experiments gone wrong, and the zombies. At one point Alice, for reasons that bear no relation, even tangential, to logic, flies through the stained glass window of a church on a motorcycle just in time to take out some of those slithery things and meet Jill and her pals for the first time, including a lady reporter in pearls, pumps, and sensible shoes. I mention the wardrobe because all the other women in this film over the age of consent wear so much less. Jill sports a short, flirty skirt, and tight tube top, though she does change from her strappy patent stiletto heels and into combat boots before going forth to do battle with the undead. Alice chooses a tank top, fishnet pullover, and jeans, albeit with one leg cut away the better to strap a holster to her thigh. Need I mention that during a knife fight the pullover is strategically sliced right over Alices toned tummy, the better to display her belly button riding high over the low-rise jeans? Perhaps its to distract us from the fact that Ms Jovovich, while undoubtedly a prime example of feminine pulchritude, fails to do much more that force a mild grimace from her otherwise stone-like face, even while Alice is being mercilessly pummeled by something that looks like an oversized hagfish. But then, perhaps its because the makeup looked as though it cost right around $1.98.
In the interests of full disclosure, I must report that RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE did offer one improvement over its predecessor. As my friend Daisy pointed out while we were exiting the theater, at least it wasnt as loud as the first one was. Now if only the next installment proves to be not only less loud, but also less lousy.