I remembered liking Resident Evil: Apocalypse when I saw it in the theater, but I'd forgotten how much or even why. Having seen the original now, the Resident Evil franchise is becoming one of my favorites and Alice is definitely one of my top female butt-kickers. I'll let you know if that's still the case after I watch Resident Evil: Extinction this weekend, but I have high hopes.
I feel like I should sort of apologize for liking these movies, but you know what? Screw that. I don't know why people pick on them. It's not like you go see a Resident Evil movie expecting Schindler's List. These are zombie action flicks, but they're not dumb. The stunts and fight choreography are great, there's a coherent plot connecting the films, they follow their own internal logic, and the characters are interesting and relatable (
Apocalypse picks up right where Resident Evil left off. A little before, actually, since we get to see some of the events that led up to that last scene from Resident Evil and how the zombie infestation spread outside the Hive.
If Resident Evil was Aliens with zombies; this is Escape from New York. With zombies. In order to contain the out-of-control zombie virus, the Umbrella Corporation has locked down Racoon City and isn't letting anyone out. Instead, they plan to use it as a testing ground for their zombie experiments; then nuke it when they're done and claim it was an accident at the nuclear plant. The only thing is that the daughter of one of their top scientists is still trapped inside the city walls, so the scientist plugs into the city's computer network to talk to Alice and some other folks also trapped inside. If they'll rescue his daughter, he'll arrange for them to get out before the bomb hits.
Complicating things is a continuation of the plot from the last movie where Alice learned about something called the Nemesis Project. We learn a lot more about it here because that's one of the experiments that Umbrella is watching, and it's a particularly nasty one. But Alice also has a connection to the Nemesis Project and we learn about that too.
The supporting cast in Apocalypse is better than the one in Resident Evil, which was pretty much just made up of military personnel, Alice, her partner, and the mysterious Matt. This time the military is represented by Oded Fehr (the best part of Stephen Sommers' Mummy movies) with the other characters being a woman cop who's conveniently just come off duty as an undercover prostitute and hasn't had time to change, her buddy on the force, a TV reporter hoping to win an Emmy with her footage of the crisis, a minor-league street criminal, and of course the scientist's daughter.
There are only a couple of things I didn't care for in the movie. One is that Alice, who's usually very sullen, is extraordinarily smiley with Oded Fehr. Maybe she's just got the hots for him, but I never really understood why. He's a handsome man, no doubt, but Alice doesn't typically get schoolgirlish around handsome men. It felt like they were trying to force a romance angle into the story when one didn't belong.
The other weird thing involves a SPOILER so skip this paragraph if you haven't seen the movie. At then end, when the head Umbrella guy is trying to get Alice to obey him by threatening her friends, he kills the scientist dude instead. His rationale is something like, "This guy is valuable to me. If I'm willing to kill him, do you think I'll spare your friends?" What I don't get though is, wouldn't the message have come across just as clear if he'd shot someone Alice actually cared about? Why shoot the valuable scientist? That's stupid bad-guying. END SPOILER.
Like Resident Evil, this movie ends not exactly on a cliffhanger, but with some pretty serious stuff unresolved. In spite of the couple of goofy moments, I'm more excited than ever to see Extinction now, except that I expect it'll end the same way and I'll have to wait another three or so years for the next sequel.
Four out of five zombie schoolgirls.