Man, I hate Paul WS Anderson. I really.. okay, let’s just get this over with quickly..
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Okay, so. Wow. I’m genuinely impressed. This actually mananges to suck harder than the desperately bad original.
Now it’s no secret that I <3 the games, and this is something I share with Paul Anderson. Only my love is something which brings me back to the games to play them over again. His is a love which makes him write suck-ass scripts which attempt to destroy any legacy they might have had. Take, for example, the use of the city. Raccoon City is a well-established place now, through the games we’ve come to know and, well, maybe loathe its twisty, gothic, zombie-crammed streets. Anderson, operating through Directorial Channel Alexander Witt, re-creates them as they are just prior to most of the games – full of zombies, with the remnants of the police force fighting a desperate, futile battle to stay alive. It should be thrilling, to see played out what we’ve only had blood-spattered clues to before. But it isn’t. It’s turgid and predictable. It doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t need to be said. It makes you realise that what was great about the games was the brooding aftershock of the zombie attack. The shambling remains of the undead hordes could be lurking anywhere. The music was subtle, low-key, unsettling. Here, the score is brassy and in-your-face. Thankfully, there’s little of the fuzzy metal which marred the previous outing, but it nonetheless gives proceedings a slightly hysterical, overblown feel which does them no credit. I’d say that’s enough about the games, but the movie is obsessed with them. There are touches, references and entire sequences torn straight out of the PlayStation. The design of the church will be familiar to anyone who has even watched a game being played over someone’s shoulder (though it’s not explicitly a location from the games, it could be anywhere), and the designs of the Umbrella staff vehicles will cause a smile of recognition amongst the devout. But it also blows it by having City Hall as a towering modern skycraper. What’s that about? The Nemesis, with its megaton-stomp and trademark growl of “STARS..” is beautifully realised on the screen (though the purist in me would have like the rocket-launcher built-in), but woefully played out. By the end, it’s warped to become a protector, and I honestly half expected it to hug a child and/or pet a kitten. A disastrous result for the single-minded killing-machine fans in the audience. It’s like the Terminator giving the.. thumbs up… oh, never mind. Plot-wise, Anderson really doesn’t know what’s going on, giving Witt a whole load of balls to keep in the air without actually letting anyone know how it’s all going to pan out. The characters (some directly from the game, some just thrown in for the hell of it, like the comedy pimp. He drives a cadillac! He has custom guns! He says mothefucker! Hilarious. In 1974) meet up in a church for some reason, then head out to help some guy in a wheelchair find his daughter. A trip to a junior school (right out of Silent Hill, survival horror trainspotters!) results in a couple of depressingly obvious deaths.. and the return of the jam-loving zombie dogs! Mmm… they love their Robertsons! Then it’s all back to City Hall, where Anderson decides that plot is for wimps and simply writes a scene in which the main baddie asks Milla to fight the Nemesis, to see who’s tougher. Seriously. There’s none of that inconvenient “motive” or “plot mechanics”. He just asks them to fight it out. And they do! It’s staggeringly bad. Just amazing. I’m going for Paul Anderson here, and I should really be heading at Alexander Witt. As director, he should know what he’s doing, and it’s clear he doesn’t. It’s all shuffling from one encounter to the next without ever giving anyone a proper reason to do so or bothering to fill in what might have happened in-between times. Also, he really ought to have a sense of where the movie ends. You think Spielberg is bad at the multiple endings thing? I started to think that perhaps I had another couple of hours of this when even more shenanigans started up after you think it’s all over. And not surprise, Friday the 13th style “you think they’re dead but they’re not!” shenanigans, no. Just regular set-up for more running around. For the sake of my sanity at that moment, it was just a laboured set-up for a second sequel. But long-term that may be more damaging..