If you've wondered what biting into somebody's leg sounds like, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" is here to tell you it sounds like biting into a big cartoon apple. There are more zombies on the loose in this noisier sequel to the 2002 movie and seemingly few people to eat. But since the film exists only to re-create the experience of watching the "Resident Evil" videogames, a navigable story and characters are not as prized as firing round after round into hundreds of half-dead extras.
Like so many movies with a keypad for a brain, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" is another exercise in making us feel the irritation associated with having to stand behind some game hack for our turn to play. Our hack for this movie is director Alexander Witt, who excels at making sure things blow up on schedule. His grasp of the script, which was left behind by the first movie's director, Paul W.S. Anderson (who decided to make "Alien vs. Predator" instead), is minimal.
The zombies in the movie's Raccoon City -- a digitally engineered metropolis that's part Manhattan, part Tokyo, with a pinch of Thunderdome -- are humans infected with something called the T-virus. Things are so bad for the human population, what with all the raging undead, that the heartless Umbrella Corporation, maker of the evil T-virus, plans to nuke the city -- you know, to sanitize it. Just in time to save a few people from destruction is Milla Jovovich's military operative, Alice. She was unlucky enough to survive the first movie, which required her to shoot up lots of Umbrella scientists who were turned into flesh-eating monsters in a nasty lab accident.
Alice bails out a bunch of people we couldn't care less about. Then she and her newfound gang are asked to rescue the daughter of an Umbrella scientist (Jared Harris). The girl is stuck in school and needs to be saved before the skinless dogs from the first movie rip her apart. One of Alice's crew is a woman named Valentine (Sienna Guillory), and her skin is so smooth and her face so expressionless she could have been born on a hard drive. And judging from her chest holster and that miniskirt-tank-top-knee-high-boots combo, I'd say somebody's been raiding Lara Croft's tomb.
Eventually, we learn there's something "improved" about Alice. She's incredibly agile now, and indestructible. Umbrella has more surprises in store for her but none for us, unless you count the sequence that has Alice fighting Euro-baddies in a towel. The promised apocalypse never adequately comes. But you might smell a second sequel in the air. Maybe they'll call it "Resident Evil: Atrocity" as this one should have been.
Wesley Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Directed by: Alexander Witt
Written by: Paul W. S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Mike Epps, Jared Harris
At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs
Running time: 92 minutes
Rated: R (violence, language, nudity)