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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Alexander Witt
Cast:
Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Sophie Vavasseur, Razaaq Adoti, Jared Harris, Mike Epps, Sandrine Holt
Writing Credits:
Paul W.S. Anderson

Tagline:
The evil continues ...

Synopsis:
After narrowly escaping the horrors of the underground Hive facility, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is quickly thrust back into a war raging above ground between the living and the Undead. As the city is locked down under quarantine, Alice joins a small band of elite soldiers, led by Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and Carlos (Oded Fehr), enlisted to rescue the missing daughter of Dr. Ashford, the creator of the mutating T-virus. It’s a heart-pounding race against time as the group faces off against hordes of blood-thirsty zombies, stealthy Lickers, mutant canines and the most sinister foe yet. Written and produced by the visionary director of Resident Evil, Paul W. S. Anderson and directed by Alexander Witt, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a superior sci-fi suspense sequel.

Box Office:
Budget
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$23.036 million on 3284 screens.
Domestic Gross
$50.740 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $28.96
Release Date: 12/28/2004

Bonus:
Disc One
• Audio Commentary with Director Alexander Witt, Producer Jeremy Bolt, and Executive Producer Robert Kulzer
• Audio Commentary with Actors Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, and Sienna Guillory
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer Paul WS Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt
• Previews
Disc Two
• 20 Deleted Scenes
• Cast Outtakes
• “Game Over: Resident Evil Reanimated” Documentary
• “Corporate Malfeasance” Featurette
• “Game Babes” Featurette
• “Symphony of Evil” Featurette
• Poster Gallery
• Trailers


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RELATED REVIEWS


Resident Evil: Apocalypse - Special Edition (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 17, 2004)

2004 was a good year for the undead. The remake of Dawn of the Dead became a surprise hit, and the four-disc release of the 1978 original was one of the year’s most remarkable packages.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse got a bit lost in the zombie shuffle. The sequel to the 2002 original actually made almost as much money as Dead. The latter brought in $58 million, whereas the former earned $50 million.

To my surprise, that figured marked a notable improvement over the original Evil’s $39 million. I was under the impression the first flick did bigger business while the sequel was less successful. I guess Apocalypse found more of an audience than I thought but did so more quietly than the others.

Apocalypse opens with a quick recap of the first movie. We then see events in Raccoon City, where the powerful Umbrella Corp. rounds up all its significant personnel for reasons we understand if we saw the prior flick. This crew of important folks includes Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris) and his daughter Angela (Sophie Vavasseur). Ashford ran the genetics and viral research division of Umbrella, and we later learn he was responsible for the T-virus that made such an impact in the previous effort.

Angela gets stuck in the City after a nasty car wreck. The movie then leaps ahead 13 hours and we see that the City’s overrun with violence from the undead folks infected with the virus. We meet kick-ass cop Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and observe her “take no prisoners” style.

Then we re-encounter Alice (Milla Jovovich), the heroine of the first movie. We watch her activation ala the original movie’s alternate ending and observe as she walks into the decimated City. We also meet police officers Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and partner Nicholai Ginovaef (Zack Ward).

Jill, partner Sgt. Peyton Wells (Raz Adoti), and TV reporter Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt) get stuck in a quarantined area. They go off on their own to find a means of escape. Another character appears via Umbrella’s corporate tool Cain (Thomas Kretschmann). He orchestrates the quarantines and the company’s plans to manage the infection.

Ashford refuses to leave without his daughter. He searches to find her location and someone to help. Our various heroes contend with different mutated creatures in addition to the infected people. Eventually most of them meet up as they try to get to Angela. Ashford offers them a way out of the City if they rescue her, so they work toward this goal.

In addition to the undead and the creatures, the folks need to deal with a special weapon created by Umbrella. Called Nemesis, this beast can take a licking and keep doling out the pain. Our group tries to find Angela and get past Nemesis and other obstacles.

Despite the occasional allusions to the first movie, Apocalypse definitely presumes a knowledge of that flick’s events. It seems unlikely that some of the nuances will make a ton of sense if you never saw the original. Not that I suspect it’ll matter a whole lot, as Apocalypse doesn’t rely heavily on plot issues. Sure, it gets into a mix of concerns, but they don’t add up to much, and they also fail to congeal well. Really, the story’s something of a mess, without much focus to the events.

Will anyone care? Probably not, as Apocalypse truly presents a videogame movie. For the most part, I mean that as a compliment. The flick fares best in its first act, as the rapid pacing kicks the viewer in the gut. The movie launches quickly and establishes a fine sense of style and action.

After that, it slows more and more until it gets to the point in the third act where it drags a bit. The problem comes from the escalating number of characters and plot points. The first flick focused its energies more tightly, whereas Apocalypse spreads a wider net. Eventually it needs to tie up all these efforts, and it doesn’t do so in a very involving manner.

For a while, however, it provides a fun videogame experience. It presents an even stronger videogame feel than the first movie; scenes like Jill’s set-up and entrance into the police station pack a great punch and come across like they’re straight out of the source material. The film indulges in absurdities like Jill’s sexy outfit, but these fit with the videogame universe; of course they’d be ridiculous in real-life, but they work here.

An excellent soundtrack helps with the scares. As with 1999’s The Haunting, the audio brings out a lot of the terror. The movie provides almost non-stop action, and the soundtrack follows suit to plop us right in the center of things.

The visuals of Apocalypse also fit the action, though not as thrillingly as the audio. Part of that stems from a sense of tedium. We see too many of the same sorts of shots. Someone always pops up from behind to save the day, and director Alexander Witt relies on way too many slow-motion shots. These feel like a gimmick more than a useful technique.

Despite the movie’s occasional dragginess, Resident Evil: Apocalypse usually delivers the goods. It eschews a logical plot and relies on non-stop action. Given the movie’s videogame roots, this works just fine for the most part. I can’t call it a great movie, but it presents a fun mindless diversion.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A/ Bonus A-

Resident Evil: Apocalypse appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Not too many problems developed during this mostly positive presentation.

Sharpness was solid. Most of the movie looked nicely crisp and distinct. At times, some wide shots were slightly soft, but those occasions didn’t happen with great frequency; the majority of the flick came across as well defined and accurate. A bit of shimmering occurred, and I also noticed a little light edge enhancement on occasion.

In regard to print flaws, I saw almost no problems. Some scenes showed a minor amount of grain, all of which seemed to come about for style reasons. The grain likely always existed in the film and it didn’t become particularly distracting.

As with most edgy movies of this sort, Apocalypse featured a very stylized palette and tended toward fairly cool colors. A dark film, it kept the hues pretty subdued most of the time. The colors seemed well reproduced and appropriately saturated, without any problems on display. Black levels also came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly thick. Ultimately, Apocalypse looked quite good.

Even better the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Resident Evil: Apocalypse really cranked to action to another level. The soundfield presented a very lively and involving affair that really helped make the movie creepier and more effective. All five channels worked actively through the whole film. The elements blended together well and panned efficiently across the speakers, and the surrounds contributed lots of unique audio. Not many quiet moments occurred, but the ones that did offered a good sense of ambience. The myriad of action scenes created a lively setting that wonderfully accentuated the action.

Audio quality seemed positive as well. Speech sounded natural and warm, and I noticed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music seemed clear and lively, as the score presented the right levels of brightness and depth. Effects appeared distinct and accurate and packed a solid punch as well. The movie presented very solid dynamics, with clean highs and some powerful but tight bass. The soundtrack of Resident Evil: Apocalypse provided a fine complement for the action that accentuated the material.

Quite a large roster of extras fills out the movie. On DVD One, we find three separate audio commentaries. The first presents director Alexander Witt, producer Jeremy Bolt, and executive producer Robert Kulzer, all three of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They go over a mix of general subjects. We hear about the film’s videogame connections, its cast, locations, effects and stunts, and music.

Things mostly remain general, which makes this a pretty lackluster chat. The participants give us a decent overview of things but they never get up a head of steam. Occasional dead air occurs, and the pace seems a little draggy at times. I can’t find conjure many significant complaints about the commentary; it just comes across as decidedly average.

Next we hear from actors Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory and Oded Fehr. Jovovich and Fehr watch the movie together for their running, screen-specific chat, while Guillory’s remarks come from a separate session. Guillory appears infrequently but she presents the best level of concrete information. She talks about her research and her take on the role. On the other hand, Jovovich and Fehr go with a looser approach. They occasionally toss out some notes from the set and a few decent details, but mostly they joke around and have fun. This makes the commentary moderately entertaining but not very informative.

For the final track, we find writer/producer Paul WS Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. They sit together for a running, screen-specific piece. Not surprisingly, story issues become the main focus here, as we learn elements of the flick’s emphasis. A lot of references to the videogames pops up during this track. We hear about how the story reflected those games and how the elements tie together. We also discover general production issues as well as an overview of Anderson’s work. He definitely takes the lead in this track; Bolt chimes in with reasonable frequency but lets Anderson do the hard work. The commentary drags at times, but it usually proves involving and useful.

At the start of the disc, we find ads for Boogeyman and Steamboy. These also appear in the DVD’s Previews area.

Next we move to DVD Two and its components. This platter opens with a documentary called Game Over: Resident Evil Reanimated. As with many DVD programs, this one splits into a number of small pieces; altogether, they fill 49 minutes and 38 seconds. It mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Witt, Bolt, Jovovich, Guillory, Fehr, Kulzer, producer Don Carmody, stunt coordinator Steve Lucescu, assistant choreographer Derek Aasland, undead choreographer Sharon Moore, gun wrangler Charles Taylor, visual effects supervisor Alison O’Brien, Core’s Kyle Menzes, Mr. X’s Eric Robertson, production designer Paul Austerberry, and actors Raz Adoti, Sophie Vavasseur, Matt Taylor, Sandrine Holt, Zack Ward and Mike Epps. The first segment is little more than a glossy overview of the production; it rushes through a number of topics related the basic story and the cast and doesn’t give us much detail.

The tone remains fizzy for parts of the remaining components, but they provide a lot more substantial information. They cover stunts, training, the Nemesis suit, zombie choreography, sets, locations and visual design, weapons, visual effects and creating the creatures. All of these pieces present useful elements, but the one that deals with the zombie movement easily stands out as the strongest. It delves into the subject with zest and delivers a great take on the topic. Except for the first chapter, the others work well too, and this becomes a good overview of the production.

Inside the “Featurettes” domain we find three pieces. Game Babes runs 11 minutes, three seconds as it focuses on the female combatants. We get notes from Jovovich, Epps, Guillory, Witt, Fehr, Ward, Bolt, Adoti, Lucescu, and Taylor. The show goes over the nature of the characters and the ways that Jovovich and Guillory take on the parts. Some of their stories about their experiences add to our appreciation of the flick, but mostly this is a puffy piece that just tells us how bitchin’ the women are.

For Symphony of Evil, we get a weird form of music video. The featurette fills seven minutes, 41 seconds. It pairs score elements with a collection of rough effects shots, test footage, storyboards, conceptual art, and other behind the scenes elements. We’ve already seen some of these elsewhere, but this is still a fairly cool gathering of images and pieces.

Lastly, Corporate Malfeasance takes two minutes, 52 seconds to discuss the company behind the movie’s story. We get notes from Carmody, Witt, Bolt, Fehr, and Jovovich. Not much substance appears here, as it’s just a glossy piece of background you’ll already comprehend if you’ve seen the film.

20 deleted scenes last a total of 11 minutes, 50 seconds. As you can surmise from the running time, most of these are short snippets, so don’t expect much from them. There’s a lot more background with Terri Morales, as she’s easily the character who benefits most from the added material. Mostly we see small extensions to existing scenes. None of this is revelatory, but it’s fun to see.

More unused footage appears in the two-minute and 52-second collection of Outtakes. It’s the usual slate of goofiness and mistakes.

Within the Poster Gallery we see five stillframe images. These present “winning submissions created by the finalists of the online poster design contest”. They’re fun to examine.

Another Previews domain shows up on DVD Two. It presents both the teaser and theatrical trailers for Apocalypse along with ads for the original flick, Underworld, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, The Grudge, The Forgotten, House of Flying Daggers, and The Fifth Element.

If you want to see a movie with a strong plot and a lot of thought-provoking material, stay far away from Resident Evil: Apocalypse. If you want to see a movie with flashy, visceral action and a lively videogame feel, Apocalypse should be up your alley. It’s not Citizen Kane but it’s often a blast. The DVD presents good picture plus stellar audio and a broad set of extras. Give Apocalypse a look if you want to see some mindless videogame-oriented fun.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.32 Stars Number of Votes: 25
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