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Resident Evil: Apocalypse(2004)
After narrowly escaping the horrors of the underground Hive facility, Alice 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 and Carlos, 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.
For more about Resident Evil: Apocalypse and the Resident Evil: Apocalypse Blu-ray release, see Resident Evil: Apocalypse Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 21, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Sophie Vavasseur, Mike Epps
Director: Alexander Witt
» See full cast & crew
Resident Evil: Apocalypse Blu-ray Review
Not so bad as to bring about the apocalypse.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 21, 2009
We thought we had survived the horror, but we were wrong.
Bringing a good video-game based film to the screen sounds much easier than it apparently is. No matter how popular, imaginative, and well-received a game may be, it seems like the movie adaptation always manages to lose something in the transition from small to big screen, from bits and pixels to flesh, blood, and celluloid. Paul W.S. Anderson's Resident Evil represents one of the few game-based movies that actually manages to exceed expectations. That's not to say Resident Evil is a great movie; it's merely average, but within the confines of its genre and looked at objectively from that angle and against its peers, it's clearly one of the very best of its kind. Enter the obligatory sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse. "Loud," "flashy," and "relentless" are all adjectives that precisely define its existence. While not a complete disaster of a film, Apocalypse never does all that much outside of the explosions and shootouts that pack most every frame of the movie.
Government suits are rounding up some of the top scientists in and around Raccoon City and evacuating them to a safe location. It seems there has been "an incident" and the city is on the verge of quarantine. Dr. Ashford (Jared Harris) is the Umbrella Corporation's top scientist and the developer of the "T-Virus," a mutagen that is turning the city's inhabitants into zombies. The city is soon locked down with throngs of angry citizens pounding on the gates, threatened with extinction at the hungry mouths of zombies on one side and trigger-happy guards high atop the barricade that surrounds the city on the other. Trapped inside is Dr. Ashford's daughter, Angie (Sophie Vavasseur). To save Angie, the doctor enlists the help of several people still in the quarantined zone, including Alice (Milla Jovovich, The Messenger), sole survivor of the initial outbreak of the T-Virus deep within the bowels of the Umbrella Corporation. She's joined by S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) operative Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory, Eragon), soldier Carlos Oliveira (Oded Fehr), and television reporter Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt). If they can rescue Angie, they've been promised escape from the city, but they have to survive a terrifying and blood-drenched night of terror, first.
As a straight-up Action movie, Resident Evil: Apocalypse isn't half bad. A typical run-and-gun adventure that pits a few folks against an army of enemies to mow down, the film expertly crafts each action scene and, while none of them are particularly novel, eye-catching, or even all that exciting, they are technically sound and absent of any glaring weaknesses. Nevertheless, the picture falls in line with convention at every turn. Perhaps the most inane scene in the film sees several humans trapped in a church, low on ammo and facing some ugly beasties. Just as all hope seems lost, Alice bursts through an upper-level window on her motorcycle, guns blazing, saving the day. Yawn. It looks good, but it's far from exciting and devoid of even a shred of originality. As a Zombie picture, however, Apocalypse is one of the lesser entries. Certainly not as socially biting and aware as George Romero's famed quintet or as slick as the Dawn of the Dead remake, for example, Resident Evil: Apocalypse does at least attempt to build a back story around mutagens and corrupt businesses and governments to frame the action, but it all feels terribly repetitive and trite. With several scenes of "zombie gore," the film nevertheless offers nothing new, just some "dead" munching on an arm or a leg as they take a break while meandering through Raccoon City's streets.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse tries to rise even just a head above the competition, but it never can find that last bit of oomph to push it over the top. Most every scene enjoys the potential for a creepy, chilling atmosphere, but because the characters in the film lack all that much depth, there's no sense of danger, no reason to really hope for anything other than a monster to jump out of the shadows and enjoy a brainy desert. Resident Evil: Apocalypse seems to want to make its audience think it's holding a straight when in reality it shows its cards early on, revealing only a low-numbered pair. Those cards reveal the typical onslaught of Action/Horror mayhem that features a deluge of bullets, several large explosions, plenty of dead bodies, and a fair bit of gore. The one saving grace is the film's technical wherewithal. Though not exactly an Oscar contender in any one behind-the-scenes category, the film does offer passable direction from first-timer Alexander Witt and above average-production values. The film makes rather good use of its budget; the well-dressed sets, sharp computer graphics, and aggressive sound design all keep Resident Evil: Apocalypse from feeling like it should have gone straight-to-home-video.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse Blu-ray, Video Quality
Resident Evil: Apocalypse comes to Blu-ray with an MPEG-2 encoded, 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. While by no means a "bad," "ugly," or "unworthy" 1080p image, Resident Evil: Apocalypse doesn't hold up by today's standards, the result an image that's acceptable in most every scene but won't knock anybody's socks off. Perhaps the most distracting element of the transfer is that blacks tend to appear far too bright, lending to darker scenes a touch of gray that doesn't mesh well with the dark theme of the movie. It also tends to lack in definition and clarity, particularly against some of the very best film-like transfer available that revel in the finest of details both far and wide. Faces tend to look smooth and even a bit soft in close-up shots, and oftentimes walls and other background objects, too, lack much in the way of texture and detail. The image does sport a fair amount of depth. However, colors range from strong to average; some of the bright outdoor shots found in the opening minutes of the film feature several nice shades of green on the foliage and grass, but the urban Raccoon City shots lack much in the way of punch and eye-popping colors. Resident Evil: Apocalypse doesn't feature much visible film grain, though several darker scenes will swirl. All in all, Resident Evil: Apocalypse doesn't look bad, but there are several factors that keep it from entering into the upper echelon of high definition imagery.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Resident Evil: Apocalypse groans up a PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack for consumption. Though one of the format's earlier releases, Apocalypse holds up nicely. Robust, powerful, and making good use of the entire soundstage, there always seems to be something of note pouring out of the speakers, for instance a hard-hitting explosion, a barrage of gunfire, rattling bass, or a discrete rear-channel sound effect. The track is incredibly bass-heavy; whether explosions, a constant low rumble in one scene, or the Nemesis' heavy footsteps beating against the pavement, the subwoofer enjoys plenty of exercise throughout. A shootout in chapter five, in addition to copious amounts of bass, delivers gunfire that pours from every speaker as it thumps around the listening area and impacts zombie flesh, brick fašades, and metal. Resident Evil: Apocalypse, however, is another instance of "too much of a good thing is a bad thing," and there are several occasions where the loud music and sound effects mesh together into one big jumble of sound that lacks that crispness and definition that define the very best lossless/uncompressed offerings. Still, it's a blast to listen to and the aggressive nature of the soundtrack suits the film wonderfully. Also featuring solid dialogue reproduction, Resident Evil: Apocalypse holds up even today as a worthy soundtrack.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Resident Evil: Apocalypse explodes onto Blu-ray with a quality array of bonus features. The package is dominated by a trio of commentary tracks, the first billed as a "filmmaker" track with Director Alexander Witt, Producer Jeremy Bolt, and Executive Producer Robert Kulzer. They begin by discussing the film's flashback open and move on to speak about what attracted them to the project, shooting styles and techniques, the make-up of the cast, the film's connection to the game, and plenty more. Track two features the film's trio of lead actors, Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, and Sienna Guillory. This track takes a different approach from the previous commentary, delivering a more affable, accessible track that delivers a good mix of humor and stories from the set while intertwining more pertinent, serious discussions about the traits that define the characters, stunt work, training for the film, and more. The third track serves up Writer/Producer Paul W.S. Anderson and, making his second appearance in three tracks, Producer Jeremy Bolt. Perhaps the strongest track among the three, discussions include the process of making a good sequel that creates its own identity (including a discussion on the evolution of the Alien films), the film's horror and gore, translating game to screen and retaining not only particular scenes but also the structure and feel of the game, and much more.
Game Over: 'Resident Evil' Re-Animated (480p, 49:42) is a six-part documentary that takes viewers deep into the making of the picture. This piece focuses on the movie's connection to the video games, building the nonstop action pieces, bringing the undead to life on the big screen, set construction, the weapons found throughout the film, and the special effects. Also included are three featurettes. Game Babes (480p, 11:05) examines the role of women as lead characters in Action films and video games. Symphony of Evil (480p, 7:42) is a montage of storyboards, pre-visualization sequences, and screen tests set to music. Corporate Malfeasance (480p, 2:54) features cast and crew touching on the role of the fictitious Umbrella Corporation in the games and the movie. Rounding out this package are 20 deleted scenes (480p, 11:57) and 1080p trailers for S.W.A.T., Stealth, and Underworld: Evolution.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
At best a middle-of-the-road video game adaptation, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is light on characterization; moderately atmospheric; and heavy on weapons, bullets, and explosions. The result is an Action/Horror junky's dream-come-true. Perhaps the epitome of the loud and over-the-top 90-minute Saturday afternoon time killer, Apocalypse does just enough to keep the story moving in between its extensive action pieces to satiate slightly more demanding audiences, while its integration of story lines and scenes from the game should satisfy the franchise's longtime fan base. Not a film to treasure but certainly not one to completely dismiss, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is not for all tastes, or for the squeamish, but it should please most genre fans. Sony's Blu-ray release isn't half bad. Despite a rather unimpressive video presentation, the disc sports a quality PCM soundtrack and a wealth of bonus materials. Recommended for fans.
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