the spin-offs, the handheld titles, and remakes – currently numbers twenty-four entries. It's among the best-selling video game franchises. So, it's not surprising that the movie version of “Resident Evil” would plan for sequels. The first film ended by setting up a sequel, unleashing Alice into a zombie-infested Raccoon City. Usually, sequel hooks in video game movies are overly optimistic but it worked this time. “Resident Evil” was a box office success and a sequel, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse,” would follow in 2004. Paul W. S. Anderson wouldn't return to direct but, feeling sour about how bad “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” turned out, he did stay on as a writer and producer. The sequel would out-gross the original, marking “Resident Evil” as a series that was going to stick around a while.
“Apocalypse” does not immediately pick up where the last film left off. Instead, it shows life in Raccoon City leading up to the outbreak, the local police department slowly being overwhelmed by zombie-related incidents. The story centers in on Jill Valentine, the protagonist of the original game. A cop, Jill teams up with a band of other tough customers to survive the zombie-filled night. They soon meet Alice, who has been further mutated by the Umbrella Corporation into an even bigger bad-ass. The other survivor of the first film has been transformed into Nemesis, a heavily armed cyborg super-zombie. After meeting up with the daughter of Umbrella's head scientist, Alice and the others become a primary target of Nemesis. The corporation is going to nuke the city in a few hours, covering up their zombie-unleashing crime, so time is tight.
“Apocalypse” does have one advantage over the first “Resident Evil” though. At times, it actually feels like what you'd expect a “Resident Evil” movie to feel like. The film is never suspenseful or scary, its horrors always overdone and inert. However, some scenes come close to working. Such as Jill trying to safely lead a little girl through a kitchen while being chased by some zombie dogs, forced to improvise weapons because she's out of bullets. Or when the S.T.A.R.S. team fight a trio of Lickers in an empty church. People grasping around for their guns in a tight location, while monstrous creatures lash out at them from the darkness, is what a “Resident Evil” movie should feel like. And it doesn't hurt that these scenes are actually about Jill Valentine. Similarly, Nemesis is a close match for his game counterpart and, at the very least, provides a decent primary antagonist for most of the film. (Even if his H.U.D. Terminator-vision P.O.V. shots are goofy.)
While Alice and Jill often feel like they belong to two different movies, it's not like the new protagonist is that big of a set-up. Sienna Guillory is perfectly serviceable as Jill. She's a more appealing heroine than Alice largely because she's not an unstoppable killing machine that can actually fail at things. The rest of the new cast is similarly uneven. Oded Fehr is perfectly suited to this stupid bullshit, being gravely serious while playing action hero. Zach Ward is cast as his Russian sidekick for some reason. The worst new character is Mike Epps as L.J., a broad black comic relief character that cracks racially questionable quips. He seems to have wander into the movie from one of Michael Bay's less sensitive motion pictures.