Video Game Adaptations- Resident Evil: Apocalypse
And I thought I hated the first film.
What a load of shit. I appreciate that I have to stand corrected a wee bit about the first film as it was actually intended as a prequel to the game- which explains a lot of the flaws in it as an adaptation, although I do stand by my opinion of it as a film, this one has no such excuse. This is just a wretched film that manages to be the worst of all worlds. It slavishly copies bits of the games, and does to some extent follow the plot of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, which is the game being adapted, but at the same time it throws an awful lot of dismal crap at the viewer, is stuffed full of bad ideas and worse performances, and the writing is just appalling- with one major sequence in particular being agonising.
Resident Evil: Nemesis follows Jill Valentine’s escape from Raccoon City before it vanishes under a nuclear cloud. On the way she meets Carlos, fights that big eponymous bastard Nemesis, and escapes by the skin of her teeth. Resident Evil 2, which is relevant for the purposes of this adaptation, follows Claire Redfield and Leon forgottenhislastname as they try to escape and rescue Angela who has something of vital importance. Resident Evil: Apocalypse follows super-charged Alice and Jill’s escape from Raccoon City, they have to rescue the little girl and avoid/ beat up Nemesis. So far, so good- this is, in a strange way, a fairly faithful adaptation of the game.
Unfortunately, it’s a terribly written one. Guess who is responsible for the writing? Come on, take a guess. Oh alright, I’ll tell you, it’s P.W.S. Anderson. This film is fucking riddled with crap dialogue (more on this in a minute), crap characterisation, but worst of all inexplicable and aggravating plot holes. For example, how the fuck did Umbrella Corporation get planning permission to build a big fucking wall around Raccoon City with one way in or out? There are absolutely loads of these howlers in the film, and it’s extremely fucking annoying. However, it isn’t as annoying as some of the extremely unfunny and grating dialogue, particularly that given to Mike Epps as LJ. Please don’t interpret what I’m about to say as racism, because it isn’t, but I honestly believe the second most offensive thing Hollywood does after Magic Negro is Comedy Negro. For examples of this hideous and hugely embarrassing character type, have a look at Speed and Speed 2. Awful, awful shite. Nevertheless, it doesn’t help that Epps doesn’t get a single line that could be construed as actually funny- most of them border on the painful, particularly:
You should have told me you were bit, motherfucker, I’m hanging with you and shit!
My shit is custom.
or, worst of all:
‘Cause I usually drive a Cadillac!
Fuck me. That is dismal, and I actually wince for Epps every time he has to deliver one of these fucking howlers. Worst of all, though, even worse than lazy and embarrassing dialogue like that, is the massive amount of hackneyed bollocks that goes on in the film- it’s got every single bad zombie cliche in it, including my pet peeve- “bitten character turns at inconvenient moment”. The only redeeming feature to this last one is that at least he didn’t try to hide it, although that would be pointless, as Alice can smell T-Virus for some reason.
Against this backdrop of complete shit, it’s no wonder that the actors struggle. Milla Jovovich is mediocre as Alice (she gets more than her fair share of atrocious dialogue as well), Epps is doomed regardless of performance, ditto Oded Fehr as Carlos. Jared Harris is completely out of place as Ashford (which is a not so clever nod to Code Veronica, more on this AS WELL in a minute), and Sophie Vavasseur manages to not be shrill as Angela. However, acting plaudits as far as they go in this film have to go to Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, who not only gets the best scene of the film, but is suitably badass when required and strangely attractive. Incidentally, by the way, Jill Valentine was modeled on future Astrodyke Julia Voth in later games, but Guillory fills out the uniform admirably.
Before I really stick the boot into this dismal excuse for a film, I’m just going to talk quickly about the introduction of Jill, which is far and away the best thing about the film- you see high heels stride in, then the camera pans up to a billboard with news clippings featuring Valentine’s suspension on it, before cutting back down to her feet as she gets changed and slips on the STARS uniform. It then follows her into the squad room where without blinking she executes a shit load of zombies and delivers her first line (paraphrase) “I told you morons to shoot them in the head”. When I was watching it this time, this sequence actually made me sit up- I thought “fuck me, maybe it isn’t that bad” before I then settled down as I got gradually crushed by the annoyance and idiocy of what I was watching. One of the reasons, actually, that this film is getting the Orangutan of Doom is perversely because of the quality of this scene. This is an isolated moment, and made me believe for a second that it wasn’t so bad- to paraphrase someone famous (and this is a very familiar feeling for anyone that’s watched English Cricket for the last few decades) “It isn’t the relentless failure that gets me down, it’s the hope that really hurts”. Were this scene as aggravatingly inadaquete as the rest of the film, then it would be far less hateful. Don’t get me wrong, it would still be dire, but thinking about this scene feels almost like it was an intentional stomp on the bollocks.
Then there’s Nemesis himself. Now, this was set up in the first film, and to be fair, for the most part he does look like the big monster from the games (leaving aside the occasional fuck up where he plows through a wall and the headpiece shifts). However, he only exists in this film to set up a big showdown with Alice at the end. A fucking fistfight (yawn) and if that wasn’t dumb enough, he then decides that he really loves Alice and then teams up with her to blow up helicopters and whatnot. How fucking shit is that?
My final complaint about this appalling film is how lazily directed it is- step right up first time director Alexander Witt. Now, this is a man that clearly knows the games very well, but there is absolutely no excuse for literally filming the fucking cut scene from the opening to Code Veronica. I can’t believe I’m about to do this, but here’s the two scenes for comparison- firstly, Alice in the film (from 3.10ish in this clip, for Christ’s sake don’t watch the rest of it):
Then from the opening to Code Veronica (2.30 onwards until 3.30)
It’s the exact same fucking scene. This is so aggravating, and the film is full of moments like this. Look, Anderson et al, it’s an adaptation- if I wanted to watch the cut scenes from the game, then I would watch the cut scenes from the fucking game- is this so hard to grasp? Are you that unable to distinguish between an adaptation and just vomiting the game on to the screen? Really?
Overall, this is shit. Really shit. It’s also unique in video game adaptations for being shit partially for being too slavish. I doubt this is a shock, given what I’ve written above, but I don’t recommend this load of toss at all- it’s fucking awful. I was under the impression that it was PG13 Horror/ Action, but it did actually manage to make an R certificate, down no doubt to the totally gratuitous nudity late in the film, which is nowhere near enough to redeem it. This is not only one of the worst video game adaptations out there, but also the worst Resident Evil adaptation (that I’ve seen) and in a series where the best film scrapes 1 chang, that’s pretty damning. I have no qualms whatsoever about giving this a well deserved Orangutan of Doom for being crappily written, obnoxious, moronic and downright hateful garbage.
In a fair world this would have died on it’s arse, thereby killing the series stone dead, but unfortunately it seems to have made money, and the fucking series has a zombie-ish quality to it: no higher brain functions at all, but completely unstoppable. Fuck the Resident Evil films, they’re all atrocious crap.
Until next time,