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RE fans, here's your Valentine!

Resident Evil:  Apocalypse
Review written by: Alex Sandell

I've finally discovered how Paul W.S. Anderson -- director of films such as Alien vs. Predator, Mortal Kombat, and the first Resident Evil -- can create a really good movie ... let somebody else direct it.  Due to prior commitments directing Alien vs. Predator, Anderson handed the screenplay he had written for the second Resident Evil film to Alexander Witt, and let him direct the thing.

Witt has been assistant director on some incredible looking films, including Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Bourne Identity, The Italian Job, Daredevil, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and Hannibal; just to name a few.  It's obvious this dude has an eye for making stuff look good.  Resident Evil:  Apocalypse is no exception.  The movie looks great and moves at the pace of a cybernetically enhanced Olympiad on steroids and Red Bull. 

The people bitching about the last one being too loud, fast and jolting better stick with Matlock, because the second Resident Evil is twice as noisy, edited like an MTV video for speed freaks, and full of more jolts than a defibrillator in an old folk's home.  Unlike the first Resident Evil, Apocalypse provides plenty of red meat for fans of the video games.  Watching the movie feels a lot like playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis did, back on the PS1.

Raccoon City has been cordoned off by the Umbrella Corporation and the people inside are left to fend for themselves.  Alice (Milla Jovovich) is back and enhanced with a somewhat stable version of the T-virus.  She meets up with a ragtag team of heroes, led by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory).  The group has to deal with topless zombie hookers, grubby zombie adults, nicely dressed zombie children and that good old mutated freak that had you throwing your controller across the room dozens of times:  Nemesis. 

Unlike the disappointingly timid original, there is some nasty shit in this film.  A scene in a church and another in a graveyard would fit in perfectly with the games.  This time we get to see zombies go cannibalistic on their living counterparts.  There's a particularly morbid scene featuring a Priest/Pastor who has chained his undead sister down to a chair and is feeding her human body parts.  Resident Evil fans are freaks, and these are the kind of moments we were looking for the first time around. 

Resident Evil:  Apocalypse is a love letter to gamers.  It's a "thank you" note to all of us who have sat in lines for the midnight releases of every Resident Evil game. 

Almost everything in the second film is "new and improved" (only the ending is worse).  The zombies actually look like they've been rotting, rather than wearing flour on their faces.  Nemesis is as ugly and menacing as he was in the game.  Jill Valentine is as sexy and good with a gun (and her acting is almost as flat).  The lickers no longer look like extras from a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  The zombie dogs are bloodier and more vicious than ever.  When a bloody police truck read "K-9 Unit," the screening audience cheered.  

This time around, the suits behind the film realized that the target audience is those hardcore fans applauding over the tantalizing thought of seeing decomposing canines making mincemeat out of their former masters.  There is a scene with Alice running through a hallway with glass windows as Helicopters hover outside and shoot at her.  It is a shot-for-shot remake of the intro. to Resident Evil:  Code Veronica.  There is plenty you'll recognize here, if you're here because you're a fan of the games. 

Not everything is perfect with the film.  It would be nice to have a symphonic score instead of a neo-metal soundtrack.  A few nearly silent scenes of exploration and suspense wouldn't have hurt.  I don't think it was really necessary to have Alice running down buildings like James Bond or driving her motorcycle through a stain glassed window like the Fonz.  And, although they've upped the scares, none of them come close to approaching the sense of dread and heart pounding intensity found in the games.   

Like its predecessor, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is more of an action film than a horror movie.  If you're looking for straight-forward terror, get in line ... Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube is only 5 months away!  Until then, a shot of Resident Evil: Apocalypse and a dose of the brand new Silent Hill survival horror game should be more than sufficient at tiding you over. 

Agree? Disagree? Have questions?  Comments?  Email this critic at alex@juicycerebellum.com

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