Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

3/4

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Sophie Vavasseur, Thomas Kretschmann, Jared Harris, Mike Epps

Rated R for Non-Stop Violence, Language and Some Nudity

It's funny how expectations can change your perception of a movie.  The first time I saw "Resident Evil," I was disappointed, feeling that it was a one-ply script with characters who weren't strong enough to be called "one-dimensional."  But today I had a snow day, and after I had watched the searing "Spotlight," I was in the mood for something loud, violent and stupid.  And you know what?  I liked "Resident Evil" more this time around.  So, having bought the "Resident Evil" collection (give me a break...it was on sale!), I decided to try the much-despised sequel, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse."  And surprise, surprise, I liked it.  Not only that, I liked it better than the original.

The film takes place shortly after the events of the first film.  The T-virus created by the Umbrella Corporation has just wreaked havoc on Raccoon City.  If only they had watched "Jurassic Park," they would have learned the easy way that when you play god, you lose in the most horrible way possible.  Unfortunately for the denizens of Raccoon City, the leaders of the Umbrella Corporation are less like John Hammond and more like the unholy offspring of Dick Cheney and Martin Shkreli.  Fortunately, there is at least one member of the evil conglomerate who has a heart and a conscience.  His name is Dr. Ashford (Harris), the scientist who created the T-virus (and like Hammond, his intentions were benevolent).  He agrees to help a ragtag group of survivors including cop Jill Valentine (Guillory) and Umbrella grunt Carlos Oliviera (Fehr) escape the quarantine.  The caveat is that they have to rescue his daughter Angela (Vavasseur), whose escape attempt was cut short by a car wreck.

Anyone looking for a sophisticated plot or strong characterizations is setting themselves up for failure.  This isn't that kind of movie, nor should it be.  This is all about kicking ass in the most awesome way possible, and on that level it succeeds.  Noted cinematographer Alexander Witt isn't John Woo, but he shows a respectable talent in crafting action scenes, and that's all that matters.

Acting isn't a strong suit either.  Milla Jovovich gets to let out her inner bad-girl after playing a mousy amnesiac for the majority of the first film, and she appears to be enjoying herself.  No one matches her, except Sophie Vavasseur, who is adorable and not a walking liability without the genetic instinct for self-preservation like little girl characters so frequently are in these types of movies.  She's mature and encouraging, and Vavasseur displays the effortless charm that she had in "Evelyn."  Thomas Kretschmann digs into his bag of tricks and creates a villain that, while not particularly original, is suitably vicious.  Sienna Guillory is okay as fan favorite Jill Valentine, but she lacks the Ripley factor that would have made her more effective.

Look, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" is one of those movies that's satisfied to give you what you paid for.  Take it or leave it.

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