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Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

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Everything Paul W.S. Anderson has done up to this point in his variable career has had all the creaks and groans of a film in its premature stages of conception – all of his efforts feeling as if he were working from a screenplay’s first draft. Characters fight for further development. His themes, if there are any to even be found, suffer for definition collapsing beneath the weight of sloppy storytelling. There’s always a seedling for potential coolness (save for Soldier and Mortal Kombat) in his work, but not much emotional complexity or meat for us to gnaw on. So what kind of spread has Anderson laid out in Resident Evil: Apocalypse? A pretty big one, actually. Whether you heartily dig into this feast or not, I suppose, depends on your relationship to the Capcom source material, and most of all, what you expect from an Anderson-penned sequel to a passable adaptation of a video game.

Apocalypse is bruised with all of Anderson’s familiar bite marks: high action favored over distinction amongst characters; exaggerated villains with exotic accents making natural bad guy choices because, well, they’re bad (worst of all, we’re one step ahead of their deviant schemes); and, through the gun blasts and ear bleed-inducing music, a ragged semblance of a story that introduces itself too late in the game. But you know what? Unlike Anderson’s numbing, stodgy Alien vs. Predator, I actually got some stimulation from this undead-heavy chapter for reasons that stem purely from the same hollow place in me that gets off on playing the Resident Evil video game, getting into a zombie fix, blasting their asses to all hell then jumping up and down in victory. Stupid, I know. But I’m a simple creature who sometimes enjoys seeing living corpses crawling from their graves only to get a vicious pummeling from a former model turned actress. And yes, there is a sequence in Apocalypse in which this happens. It’s one of the many that I got a kick out of, the others relating fairly close to the games themselves in look, setting, and action.

Director Alexander Witt fills in for Anderson at the helm this time for a story that picks up immediately after the first Resident Evil. Well, actually a few hours before Alice (Jovovich) emerges from The Hive as we follow the Umbrella Corporation’s movements throughout Raccoon City. Learning of a biohazard containment breach within their underground facility, the company takes necessary steps to quarantine the entire city. They extract high-ranking officials and leave the rest of the metropolis’ residents behind. One member of Umbrella’s personnel who voluntary chooses not to leave is Dr. Ashford (Harris); wheelchair-bound and adept at hacking Umbrella’s computer mainframe, he utilizes the city’s street cameras to locate his daughter, who was initially lost in an accident during an attempt to pull her out of the city. Ashford makes quick use of the city’s payphones to contact Apocalypse‘s main band of survivors to rescue his kid. Jill Valentine, her partner Carlos Olivera, L.J. (the token holy-shit-what-am-I-doing-in-this-situation? guy), and Alice – now genetically altered for the better – take Ashford up on his mission, his little girl now seen as a bargaining chip to get Alice and her crew out of Raccoon City, away from the undead, the lickers (bio-weapons with tongues only Gene Simmons would envy), and Umbrella’s latest creation, the Nemesis.

Bear in mind, none of this – I mean, Apocalypse‘s actual story – doesn’t kick in until a good half hour to forty-five minutes in. Until this time Witt gets to show off what years of second unit directing experience has taught him with scenes of S.T.A.R.S. officers facing off with zombies on fire-lit streets, Alice and Carlos performing some fairly impressive stunts, and lickers taking out their prey in an abandoned church. Sounds pretty cool, right? It is, especially when the cocky Valentine discovers what said church’s priest is doing with his zombified sister; or when we’re introduced to a horde of zombie children; and it’s really friggin’ groovy to see the Nemesis lumber around (ahem, with little CG assistance) and growl “STARS!” just like he does in the game. Execution-wise, though, all of the action is clumsy. Witt mimics a similar delivery Anderson pulled off in AvP. His camera coverage is too damn tight, underlit, and confusing to appreciate what’s happening! He also chooses to use some lame, skittish skip-frame technique for all of the zombie shots that looks blurry; and the gore is so weak it’ll have you scampering for the warm shower of grue Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive delivers. In light of all the exposure the undead had in the recent Dawn of the Dead remake, you’d think the Apocalypse crew would want to amp up the zombie goodness, but nooooo.

On the story front Anderson misses his opportunity to explore some Frankenstein-like parallels to (and furthermore develop sympathy for) the Nemesis. Anderson’s newly introduced direct-from-the-game characters don’t resonate all that much either, but something tells me we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. That said, is Apocalypse sorta dumb? Yeah, but it’s cheesy fun too. More action than horror, it has a Matrix: Reloaded vibe, like it’s a bridge to something bigger, which Anderson incidentally alludes to in the final minutes of the film. If that’s the case – and if Apocalypse was one step closer in staying in tone with the game – then maybe part three will be the balls-out Evil film we’ve been waiting for.

Ryan Rotten

RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004)
(Screen Gems)
Directed by Alexander Witt
Starring Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Sienna Guillory, Thomas Kretschmann, Jared Harris

3 out of 5

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

  • Alive in New Light
5.0

Summary

IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell

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Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law

Directed by John Law


I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.

The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.

The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.

  • Film
3.5

Summary

The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.

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