/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 89 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Resident Evil: Apocalypse follows on almost frame for frame from the first Resident Evil movie, with Alice having been captured and experimented on by the evil Umbrella corporation (her employer). The T-Virus has escaped the confines of The Hive and has spread to Racoon City, causing the inevitable havoc that a bunch of zombies running around a city does.
As the general population of the city attempt to flee to safety, Umbrella Corp. is more concerned with containing the infection and maintaining plausible deniability so they can separate themselves from the disaster.
Meanwhile, Alice arms up and starts with the zombie killing, eventually meeting up with miniskirt and tube top wearing Jill Valentine and Peyton Wells and some more zombie killing ensues. As the zombie kill count grows they are contacted by an Umbrella employee, whose daughter is trapped in the city. He offers them a way out if they can get her to safety.
More zombie killing occurs and they find the girl, kill more zombies (err, “undead”) and the real evil of Umbrella’s plans become more apparent as Alice learns what she has truly become
"I used to work for them, I saw the error of my ways."
Resident Evil: Apocalypse is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for widescreen displays.
When the phrase “reference quality” was coined I’m pretty sure that the transfer we see here was the intended target of the term. The quality of the transfer on this disc is nothing short of perfect, no aliasing, no grain and no pixilation at all. Also, despite the relatively low bit rate (averaging from 3 to 5mbps) there are absolutely no noticeable compression artefacts.
Well! colour me tickled pink.
Considering the majority of the movie is set at night, the black and shadows are an important aspect of the transfer and are both excellent. The black levels are nice and dark but leave just the right amount of detail in the shadows giving the right atmosphere for a movie of this type. To continue the warranted praise, the detail in the picture is phenomenal as are the colour levels, all rich and realistic even within the dark and mostly grey toned settings.
There are two main audio tracks on this disc, English and Spanish both in 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes. Also included are subtitles for both soundtracks and the audio commentaries (all 3 of them).
The audio presentation is as good as the video in this DVD and there are some scenes that just scream “demo”, be it the thump of a helicopter’s rotor blades or the whir and ping of a minigun in full effect, great stuff!
All the channels in the 5.1 soundtrack get a full workout with this DVD. The subwoofer performs admirably to give the numerous explosions and gunshots a kidney rattling rumble. The surround channels are used particularly well with bullets whizzing around the room and the moan of the zombie onslaught coming from all directions. Finally, the centre channel presents the dialogue loud and clear despite the presence of many other audio elements competing for the listener’s attention.
Let's see if he can worm his way out of this one.
In fact, I was having so much fun with the sound cranked way up the room was shaking the windows were rattling, I was worried that my neighbours would call and complain (not that I’d be able to hear the phone ring).
There is one amazing feature on this DVD called "English Language Descriptive Service" which involves a female english voice that gives a blow by blow no nonsense description of all the action happening on screen. This service is probably of most use to viewers who don't have full vision but it's just as much fun to listen to emotionless voice describe the movie if for nothing more than novelty value, I hope more DVD movies include this extra in the future.
In addition to the amazing video and audio presentation on this disc we are also given a quite impressive array of extras, three commentaries, many deleted scenes, featurettes and documentaries by the bucketful, some of which is promotional fluff but the majority is actually very interesting and adds value to the DVD.
Audio commentary by director Alexander Witt with producers Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer
The first of the commentaries on this disc is probably the most interesting from a film making perspective. Witt and co. discuss the usual topics of set design, story, special effects, character and music but not in an overly technical and dry way. The commentary is kept interesting with stories from behind the scenes and anecdotes about the scenes and actors we are viewing along with a lot of information about how the Resident Evil games inspired this instalment more than the previous. The producers also expressed their desire to keep the movie as “real” as possible by minimizing the use of CGI and maximizing live action shots when possible (yes, that was Milla running down the side of a building).
Audio commentary by stars Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory and Oded Fehr
Probably the least technically interesting commentary but well worth a listen if for nothing else than to learn the real reason Milla was hired to play Alice (hint: it wasn’t her ability to give insightful commentaries). The weird thing about this commentary is that while Sienna Guillory was included it is blindingly obvious that her commentary was recorded separately to Jovovich and Fehr’s, is a little bland and serious by comparison as well as being rather badly edited into the main commentary track. Despite this, Milla and Oded obviously get on well and the commentary is worth listening to just for their sillyness alone.
The Toxic Avenger makes a cameo appearance.
Audio commentary by writer/producer Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt
Paul W.S. cops a lot of flack for being a hack and a bad director/writer but listening to his commentaries on this movie and Alien vs Predator shows that he has a clear passion for the sci-fi/horror genre and while AvP was far from perfect I would have to say that Resident Evil: Apocalypse is about as close to perfect as they come. Anderson and Bolt discuss the usual topics, in fact there is a lot of cross over in the topic between this and the first commentary with some additional insights into how Anderson learnt all he knows about writing sequels from Aliens, arguably the best sequel in history (IMHO of course).
Game Over: Resident Evil Re-animated (49:42)
This lengthy “making of” which offers a lot of behind the scenes type information for the viewer. Running for nearly an hour we are shown details on almost every aspect of the making of the movie, actors (concentrating mostly on Milla), costumes, filming, make-up, casting, stunts, guns and special effects. There are some particularly interesting segments involving “Undead Bootcamp”; an intensive zombie acting class for all the extras on the set.
Featurette: Game Babes (11:05)
The name is a dead giveaway that this featurette focuses on Jill Valentine played by Sienna Guillory and Alice played by Milla Jovovich. Need I say more?
Featurette: Symphony of Evil (7:43)
This featurette features animatics and raw effects shots with a spooky soundtrack playing in the background.
Leelo Dallas multi-scars.
Featurette: Corporate Malfeasance (2:45)
The Umbrella Corporation is as much a character in the movie as any of the human actors and this featurette gives a good run down of the corporation, including clips from the ad for Regenerate.
Deleted Scenes (11:57)
A total of 20 scenes showing various shots cut from the movie with no major surprise apart from a minor romantic subplot that was evidently totally removed.
The usual goofs, missed lines and on-set kidding around among the actors, just part of the whole package.
Both the Theatrical and Teaser trailers are presented here with a total running time of about three minutes.
A static display of the five winners of an online poster submission competition for the movie.
Critics love to criticize and Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a fine target with two main weaknesses, one being the horror/action genre and the other that it is based on a video game. People love to hate these sorts of movies with good reason; the past is littered with really bad video game adaptations (Street Fighter, Tomb Raider, Mario Brothers) that were clear cash-ins on the popularity of their respective games.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse is the exception, but has also copped the requisite amount of flack simply for the genre it belongs in. However, it is still a solid horror/action movie: the effects are excellent, the acting is convincing and the story is scary, atmospheric and as faithful to the original games as is possible in a movie.
This release deserves the gold status for the excellent video and audio presentation combined with an amazing set of extras for a single disc version, and the story is great too.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse has the rare distinction of being a sequel that is actually better than the original. I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series, I’d put money on it being called Resident Evil: Revenge.