Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

(In theaters, September 2004) It’s not that this film is entirely unpleasant: It’s just that whatever is interesting about this film comes in thirty-seconds snippets, sandwiched between vast stretches of silliness and boredom. Yes, there’s plenty of added value-for-money for us Canadian in seeing a very explicit Toronto double as a “Raccoon City” overwhelmed by flesh-eating zombies. It’s interesting to see another take on the urban desolation theme. Roughly three of the last five minutes are top-notch. Milla Jovonovich isn’t completely wasted as super-powered heroine “Alice”. Here and there, dumb shoot-em-ups still manage to bring back memories of the rock-and-roll first film. But by and large, Resident Evil: Apocalypse struggles from one set-piece to another, barely managing to distinguish itself in the increasingly crowded zombie sub-genre. The dark-on-black cinematography annoys, the cheap production values hurt and so does the painfully inept script: The characters are so unimaginably stupid that it’s hard to actually cheer for any of them. Worst of all, though, is the dawning insight that Paul Anderson’s much-derided direction is what propelled the original Resident Evil from stupid video-game movie to enjoyable stupid video-game movie. Here, well, it’s not all good. Not all good at all.

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