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September 13, 2004 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-13

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 13, 2004

ARTS

'Resident Evil' franchise fails to rise again
By Ian Dickinson
For The Daily

"Resident Evil" was an anomaly
among movies based on videogames.
As evidenced in "Mortal Kombat"
and "Super Mario Bros.," film adapta-
tions of videogames are rarely a good
idea, but between Milla Jovovich,
zombies and gore, "Resident Evil"
was an entertaining film. Unfortu-
nately, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse"
fails to overcome another significant
hurdle: Sequels typically fail to live
up to their predecessors, and the lat-
est entry in the "Resident Evil" saga
is no exception.
In the second installment, Alice
(Jovovich) awakes from a coma to
discover that the havoc unleashed
by an out-of-control virus reaches
Raccoon City, a generic urban land-
scape above the underground lab

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got.

LL lacks attitude of
previous releases

that was the set-
ting for the first
film. Infected by
the mysterious
illness, Jovovich
teams up with a
no-nonsense cop
(Sienna Guil-
lory, "The Time

Resident Evil:
Apocalypse
At Quality 16
and Showcase
Sony

Courtesy of Sony

I feel so dirty for being in these horrible movies. I'm so sorry.

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Writer

From his precocious debut at age 17,
LL Cool J has been as East Coast as
the New York Yankees and Brooklyn
accents.
Ten albums later, LL has packed up
his bags, kissed his best girl goodbye
and jumped on the
bus to search for
the chubbiest beats LL Cool J
from the South. The DEFinition
Luckily, some- Def Jam
one at Def Jam put
in extra hours and
got Timbaland to produce more than
half the album's 11 songs. Thus, we now
have the combination of the greatest
living hip-hop producer and one of the
most iconic rappers of our age.
With this much talent and presence
in one disc, there's bound to be some
chemistry problems. It's very much like
a musical version of Kobe/Shaq. Timba-
land wants the keys to toss in everything
from his musical bag of tricks - Bol-
lywood flutes, eerie digital choirs and
slamming bass - and the artist known
otherwise as James Todd Smith still
likes to rule his 16 bars by hammering
his words with a boundless swagger.

It's a dangerous game of chemis-
try the two play and it yields a mixed
batch of songs. Some are soggy with
cluttered melodies that supercede LL's
cocky verses and the occasional track
that feels like a fantasy - LL's but-
ter-smooth baritone and Timbo's obese
beats. The alchemy pays off on "Shake
Feel the Beat." LL Cool J sounds like
the late '80s snot-nosed verbal pugilist
who smashed opponents with dark,
nasty punch-lines.
Right when he is knee deep in the
roughneck territory, the album leans
toward the soft, domestic side of LL's
raps that have made him such a huge
target among his peers. The stale
beats and saccharine lyrics on "Apple
Cobbler" wouldn't sound odd coming
from Bow Wow. Nothing here is as
disastrous as his last release, 10, but
the MC most people became acquaint-
ed with through UPN sitcoms is still
nowhere near the colossus of his for-
mer persona.
We've been trying to drag LL Cool
J away from his woman for three or
four years now, and just when we get
him out the door she calls him. Before
you know it, all the flashes of rebel-
lion he flexed earlier have vanished
and he's calling her pet names over
the phone. He certainly didn't put up
much of a fight.

Machine") and a street-wise pimp
(Mike Epps, "Friday") to battle the
heartless corporate interests that
spawned the virus and rescue from
the chaos the daughter of a scien-
tist (Jared Harris, "Natural Born
Killers").
Initially, the film lives up to its
predecessor as well as the slew of
zombie films currently on the mar-
ket. Sadly, it is effective only as far
as it pilfers the opening scenes of last
year's "28 Days Later." By the half-
hour mark, Jovovich crashes through
a 60-foot-high stained glass window
on a motorcycle in slow motion, the
film quickly falls apart.
First-time director Alexander
Witt, a cinematographer for "Gladi-
ator," "Black Hawk Down" and
"Hannibal," falls into the excesses
of dizzying fast-cuts that cater to
few beyond those with incredibly
short attention spans. Taking a page
from the Michael Bay playbook,
Witt fails to hold a shot for longer
than 15 seconds. While the material
is frightening on its own, the zom-
bie rampages, all in slow motion,
are accompanied by inane light-
ing effects rather than stylized and
creative violence one would expect
from this sort of movie. Like Bay,
Witt puts clever camerawork ahead

of frightening the audience.
"Resident Evil: Apocalypse"
isn't without its strengths, however.
Jovovich puts in another decent per-
formance and works well with Guil-
lory despite a fairly mediocre script.
Neither of the two female leads is
outshone by the CGI monsters and
carnage. Though Jovovich and Guil-
lory borrow heavily from Linda
Hamilton's performances in the
"Terminator" series, they both carry
a strong enough screen presence to
distract from the pedestrian horror
plot that includes a late-night walk
through a decrepit graveyard and the
cheesy dialogue that appears to have
become standard fare in movies of
the genre.
And, for all the cliches used by
Witt, the movie does manage to
scare at various points, and the direc-
tor is able to manage several complex
subplots, as well as fully integrate the
first "Resident Evil" into the course
of the sequel. Though his work here
is hit-or-miss, Witt shows potential
when it comes to his use of admit-
tedly cheap gimmicks to frighten the
audience.
Still, Epps's character is a loath-
some addition to the film and to
see yet another horror movie rely
on a stereotyped black male for
comic relief is disappointing and
diminishes the film's entertainment

value. The vaguely Russian security
forces, led by the peculiarly moral
Oded Fehr ("The Mummy"), lack
the ferocity of similar characters in
post-apocalyptic films from "Day of
the Dead" to "28 Days Later," and
provide the viewer with comfort
rather than unease and fear.
An argument can be made that
because the "Resident Evil" series
is based upon a videogame, its plot

shouldn't be overanalyzed. It is, how-
ever, a part of the horror genre, and
for all its good moments, there are
still plenty of better movies about
zombies. While Witt uses creative
means and stylized camerawork to
enhance the film's atmosphere, and
Jovovich's performance is adequate,
"Resident Evil: Apocalypse" remains
a thinly-veiled, stereotypical horror
movie not worth the $8 ticket price.

.0

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