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THIS REVIEW DEALS WITH GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense
Cast
Milla Jovovich as Alice; Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine; Oded Fehr as Carlos Olivera; Thomas Kretschmann as Major Cain; Jared Harris as Dr. Charles Ashford; Mike Epps as L.J.; Sandrine Holt as Terri Morales; Sophie Vavasseur as Angie Ashford
Director
Alexander Witt
Distributor
Screen Gems
Reviewer
Bob Smithouser
Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

In the first Resident Evil the world’s largest commercial conglomerate surreptitiously created a scientific miracle: the ability to revive dead cells. But it worked a little too well. Pretty soon it wasn’t just reviving dead cells, it was reviving dead people with a viral outbreak in an underground compound, leading to a gory zombie uprising that would turn George Romero green with envy (and viewers who aren’t into flesh-eating corpses just plain green). A broken neck or a bullet to the head was all that could stop the spasmodic, limp-limbed masses. That film ended with its heroine, Alice, awaking in a deserted lab and strolling outside to find Raccoon City a deserted war zone.

It turns out the nefarious Umbrella Corporation had been experimenting on Alice and the other survivor from the first film. She now has superhuman speed, strength, sensory perception and leaping ability. Meanwhile, her pal has been turned into a mutated lug genetically engineered as the ultimate biological weapon—a disfigured terminator. The pair meet up and go mano a mano, but not before scores of zombies, once contained underground, have found their way to the surface. Authorities lock down Raccoon City, quarantining both the infected and their prey. Among those trapped is the young daughter of a respected scientist, who makes a bargain with Alice and others: Rescue my little girl and I’ll guide you safely out of Raccoon City before the place gets nuked at dawn.

Positive Elements

We learn that the scientist who developed the cell-regenerating formula did so to heal his daughter, who was wheelchair-bound with no hope of walking. He loves the girl enough to decline personal evacuation from Raccoon City until she is found and returned to him. Told she should shoot a colleague who is infected but still alive, a woman refuses to do so until all hope is lost. Characters come to one another’s aid. Alice intentionally steps in front of a projectile hurtling at a young girl. She also refuses to engage the mutant terminator in hand-to-hand combat until she realizes doing so will spare her friends’ lives. Abusive corporations and scientists who play God are vilified for their social irresponsibility.

Spiritual Content

Several survivors take refuge in a church. The priest has tied his zombified sister to a chair and is caring for her by feeding the woman human remains.

Sexual Content

Two scenes feature nudity. The first involves a pair of bare-breasted zombie prostitutes on the prowl. Near the end, Alice is shown floating naked in a laboratory vat (breast and rear nudity).

Violent Content

The MPAA’s explanation for the R rating reads, “For non-stop violence, language and some nudity.” When they say “non-stop violence,” they’re not kidding. The body count is substantial. Soldiers armed to the teeth descend upon Raccoon City and mow down zombies with assault rifles. Punches and karate kicks may slow them down, but those lurching corpses aren’t truly out of commission until they get shot at close range, have their necks broken or take knives to the head. Dozens get popped in the cranium. Meanwhile, zombies munch on victims, adding them to their ranks.

A good-ol'-boy sniper picks off the undead with a rifle until the mutant terminator shoots him with a rocket launcher. That potent weapon gets used several times, blowing up cars, buildings and helicopters. Alice and the terminator fight until he gets impaled on a jutting girder. Mutated dogs attack people and tear a man apart. Bizarre beasts called “lickers” roam the church sanctuary until they’re shot (a messy moment) or set ablaze. A bloody body falls from a balcony. Dozens of corpses spontaneously erupt from graves. Bitten, a doomed lady leaps to her death rather than allowing the virus to consume her. A desperate band of humans, left for dead by the Umbrella Corporation, fights back against guards by shooting or stabbing many of them. Against her will, a woman becomes part of the school lunch program when a classroom full of zombie children turn on her.

A man gets hit with a taser. Alice’s quick-cut flashbacks contain violent imagery. When a chopper blows up, a piece of debris strikes Alice. A large truck plows into an SUV and flips it over, killing two people. A bad guy (who shoots a man in cold blood) gets tossed to a group of zombies which converge on him. Alice uses advanced mental powers to cause a man to bleed from his nose and eye sockets. A woman ignites a room full of gas to dispatch creatures.

Crude or Profane Language

More than 30 profanities or obscenities, nearly half of which are variations on the f-word (including “m-----f---er”). There are also a dozen s-words and a couple abuses of Jesus’ name.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Alice is injected with an experimental serum. A bitten soldier receives an antidote.

Other Negative Elements

A TV reporter seems more concerned about getting personal accolades for her story than with the human toll of the crisis she’s covering.

Conclusion

We’ve seen a lot of zombie movies lately. House of the Dead. 28 Days Later. A remake of Dawn of the Dead. Even the biting new horror satire Shaun of the Dead. I’m tempted to ponder the social significance of this trend (such as whether the post-9/11 threat of terrorism has turned us into ineffectual zombies), but that energy seems better spent microwaving my lunch. Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a dumb, obnoxious horror film. Hunting for subtext amongst the explicit content would be like fishing a penny out of a public toilet. What makes matters worse, the ending leaves things wide open for yet another sequel. These brain-dead films are eating me alive. Wait! There’s the social metaphor!

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