THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES
The first film, written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, was created as a prequel to establish the cinematic world of the series from the video game. RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE delves deeper into the world created in the games with major action sequences that come from the unique genre of survival horror.
"My personal belief is that for a sequel to succeed you can't just use the same blueprint over again," explains Anderson. "I knew going in that this had to be bigger, better and a different kind of film."
In the first film, Alice (Jovovich) and Matt Addison (Eric Mabius) contained the Undead-spawning T-Virus in the underground facility known as "The Hive." But now, not only has the monolithic Umbrella Corporation experimented on the only two survivors of that siege; it has unleashed the Undead in the open air of Raccoon City. "We've gone above ground and the danger and malevolence of the Umbrella Corporation is much more out there in the world - and far more toxic and dangerous," says producer Don Carmody.
A rag-tag group of survivors led by Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira find that their odds for survival increase immeasurably when the newly regenerated and enhanced Alice joins their ranks. "Milla is the lynchpin of this film," says Anderson. "There just would not be a second film without her. This was written for her - every action and every line of dialogue was written with her in mind."
"Alice has survived the hideous experience in the Hive and emerged as a much more decisive character," explains Jovovich. "She also has become an experiment of the Umbrella Corporation, a guinea pig in a sense, infected with the T-Virus. She doesn't know what the consequences will be. All she knows is that through this experiment Umbrella has unwittingly given her a weapon that can take them on, and she is going to use it."
Matching Alice in toughness is the game's character Jill Valentine, played by Sienna Guillory. "You always want to play someone you're going to have fun with, someone you want to be," explains Guillory. "Jill's got everything a girl wants to be - she dresses to kill, says whatever she wants and can shoot anyone between the eyes in a fifty-yard radius. She's hard as nails and she's great fun. And not at all afraid of being quite the sexy minx," she adds with a laugh.
"I'm a huge fan of the game, and when I saw Sienna in her outfit, I started jumping up and down and clapping like a little girl," Jovovich recalls. "In the game, she's this tough girl with a mini skirt and a tube top. In the flesh, she's got balls and attitude for days! And when she's got a gun in her hand, you better run in the opposite direction. She absolutely looks like a human version of Jill but prettier and cooler. It's amazing to me."
Guillory feels Alice and Jill represent rare examples of tough women leading a film. "Alice and Jill are two strong women with their incredible arsenal of martial arts skills and guns," she says. "When you have someone as incredibly beautiful as Alice and as sexy as Jill, and both can fight, it's just a great dynamic. There's a very obvious respect between the two characters."
Another fighter who joins their ranks is Carlos Oliveira, played by Oded Fehr. At the heart of his ability to survive is a sense of compassion that cannot be muted by the horrors that confront the team at every turn. "Carlos is the head of an independent SWAT team owned by the Umbrella Corporation," explains Fehr. "They are sent into Raccoon City to extract one of the Umbrella Corporation's personnel. On the way, Carlos sees a civilian on the roof of a building and decides to jump out of the helicopter to save her life. He and his men then become trapped in Raccoon City. Umbrella leaves them behind and they have to make their way out and try to save their own lives."
Both fighters, Carlos and Alice form a tight bond born out of their need to rely on each other in extremely treacherous circumstances. "There's an immediate attraction between Carlos and Alice," explains Fehr. "They're both war people, and I think they have mutual respect as their connection develops and they fight side-by-side. Jill Valentine obviously is a very powerful girl - almost like she's angry with everyone. Regardless, she is a very tough cookie."
When the core team finds Angie, the daughter of Umbrella scientist Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris), Carlos immediately takes her protection upon his shoulders. "These are real people in an unreal situation," Fehr says. "They're surrounded by the most vicious and unfeeling enemies, and in some ways it's their humanity that keeps them alive."
After narrowly escaping from the vicious Lickers, who seem more cunning and quick, and then confronting biogenetically engineered mutations and feral Undead dobermans, the team moves to collect on their deal for rescuing Angie - the last helicopter scheduled to leave Raccoon City before the place is evaporated by a top secret nuclear strike.
There's only one problem - Umbrella's Major Cain (Thomas Kretschmann) is aware of their every move, and he has brought Nemesis - Umbrella's secret weapon and the only being capable of stopping Alice - with him.
Kretschmann describes Cain as "a modern Frankenstein. He created all. It's his baby, this project - the mutations and evolutions and everything. He believes in it, and for him, it's more important than individual lives. With Nemesis, he's really enjoying seeing that his baby, his monster, is coming alive."
To survive, superhuman will have to meet superhuman in an earth shattering clash for survival.
MERGING THE GAME AND THE FILMS
In March 2002, Paul W.S. Anderson brought the top video game from the console monitor to the big screen with stunning success. With an inventive new story paired with the dangerous world of the walking Undead, the film set the stage for a new and even more terrifying battle.
"I always wanted to make a really scary movie," says executive producer Bernd Eichinger of Constantin Film. Spotting Constantin staff playing Resident Evil in the office, he recognized the potential of a game that so vividly and terrifyingly captured the imaginations of so many. The Resident Evil® series is one of the most successful video game franchises in history with sales of more than 24 million units worldwide. This year alone, Capcom plans to release two new Resident Evil titles - Resident Evil Outbreak for the PlayStation 2™ in March and Resident Evil 4 for the Nintendo GameCube™ in the winter. "I knew then that if we could translate the unique quality of this game to the screen, we would have a winner."
Constantin secured the rights from Capcom, a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment. "Constantin is an independent company," explains Eichinger. "We're able to make decisions quickly without a hundred executives in the consultation process. I think that independent spirit was very appealing to Capcom. Even more importantly, we took their concept very seriously and demonstrated our respect for the source material."
ORIGINAL PRODUCTION TEAM RE-UNITES
RESIDENT EVIL: Apocalypse reunites the original production team of Constantin executive producer Robert Kulzer with Impact Pictures' Jeremy Bolt as producer and Paul W.S. Anderson as both producer and screenwriter. Joining the team is veteran producer Don Carmody (Chicago, Gothika) who recently produced Constantin's thriller, Wrong Turn.
Himself an avid Resident Evil gamer long before the first film went into development, producer and screenwriter Anderson relished the opportunity to infuse this installment with tangible elements of the game. "There is some striking imagery from the game that we have recreated for the big screen," he describes. "That was part of the fun of this movie. Because it was more directly tied into characters, narrative and events from the video games, we could recreate certain images and scenes but put a twist on them as well so even if you're a hardcore fan it will still surprise you."
"We've tried to immerse the viewer in the world the same way the games do," he continues. "In some ways it's easier to turn Resident Evil into a movie because the games themselves are so heavily influenced by movies."
As Anderson was shooting Alien vs Predator concurrent with the production schedule of RESIDENT EVIL: Apocalypse, the producing team passed the gauntlet to acclaimed second unit director Alexander Witt, who has contributed his extraordinary action and visual style to dozens of blockbusters, including Hannibal and Black Hawk Down.
"Alexander has an amazingly strong visual eye and has done some of the best action scenes in some of the top movies of the last ten years," comments producer Bolt. "He has such a great wealth of filmmaking experience that it's hard to consider this to be his debut as a director."
Anderson and Jovovich both felt the film had to deliver the shocks and thrills but also some very big action scenes, from helicopter stunts to never-before-seen high falls. "With this movie he really had his plate full," Anderson says. "We wanted a director with an expansive style, who could bring equal doses of action, horror and depth to the story."
Comments cast member Fehr, "You would never know that this is Alexander's first film. He is so relaxed, so calm. He knows what he wants; he knows what he's doing and yet he's very open to suggestions. It feels like you're doing a movie with a friend. He does a fantastic job and has a really great vision."
TRAINING TO BE A FIGHTING AND KILLING MACHINE
With the director in place, the next most vital element rested on the shoulders of Jovovich, who faced even greater physical and emotional demands with this incarnation of Alice. "Milla made sure that Alice was not just an amazing fighting and killing machine but also presented the human side to her," comments Anderson. "Alice didn't become too superhuman too quickly. She wanted it to be realistic in the sense that Alice is struggling with what she is becoming. I think that input from her dramatically improved the believability of the character."
Jovovich also completely immersed herself in the physical preparation for the film. "I don't think any of us anticipated how much of the stunt work she would actually be able to do because I don't think any of us anticipated that she would throw herself into the physical training as much as she did," says Anderson. "She literally spent four months before the movie training - and training hard. Milla transformed herself for the film and for the role."
"I'm a warrior, I love martial arts," says Jovovich, adding with a laugh. "I love to feel powerful in that sense. I definitely have a talent with violent objects. Maybe it's my Yugoslavian background. I'm always ready for battle - it's that crazy barbarian thing coming back from the abyss of my DNA."
Her training regiment included the highly acrobatic Brazilian martial art, Capoeira, under Mestre Amen Santo. The intense martial art once had been banned in many parts of Brazil because it was regarded as combat training. Her Capoeira training included maracatu, a combat dance with sticks. Her mastery and elegance with maracatu inspired the baton fight that takes place between Alice and the Umbrella troopers. She also underwent training for gun spinning with Phil Spangenberger, who includes Mel Gibson and Will Smith among his trainees.
Stunt coordinator Steve Lucescu, whose credits include Chicago, Gothika and Wrong Turn, worked extensively with Jovovich on her elaborate stunt sequences in the film. "When I met Milla, I began to see what she was capable of - both in the physical aspects and her acting," says Lucescu. "It was just phenomenal. She stops at nothing."
One of the most crucial fight sequences is Alice's final battle against Nemesis. "In our first session I said 'Okay, we'll try maybe twenty moves in this fight and see how that goes,'" he recalls. "We got through those twenty moves in a matter of hours with her. From there we just kept breaking it down into more complex moves, and Milla mastered them all."
RACCOON CITY LIVE: FILMING RESIDENT EVIL
RESIDENT EVIL: Apocalypse was filmed on soundstages and location in Toronto and nearby Hamilton, Canada. The use and character of the city was a crucial element to the production. "To make this movie, we basically had to take over a major North American city, which we've done with Toronto," says producer Don Carmody, who has mounted a number of major productions in the city, including the Academy Award® winner Chicago. "We took over major thoroughfares for days and City Hall for two weeks, flying helicopters in and out, setting off shells and shooting up windows. There were blocks that were shut down for the running gun battles and fights with the Undead. I don't know of any other city where we could have accomplished it with the facility and cooperation that we have here."
Production designer Paul Denham Austerberry worked with the architecture of Toronto to create Raccoon City on its eve of destruction. Toronto's unique city hall, a modernist classic by Finnish architect Vijo Revell, became a major setpiece of the movie. The production took over the full upper level of the building, filming around the circular 'pod' that houses the city council chambers. Adapting the building to the production, Austerberry created a glass hallway that circles around the central pod. City business continued to take place during the day but for two weeks in October - Evil took up residence at night.
The largest interior set of RESIDENT EVIL: Apocalypse was the Ravens' Gate Church, which was constructed on the soundstage. Producer Carmody says, "It starts out as a spooky sequence that transcends into a horror sequence and then kicks it up another level into full-blown action. Once we worked out the scene on paper, we realized that the church would be pulled apart. We looked at it and said, 'There isn't a church in the world that would let us shoot this thing.' So we built this cathedral on the stage."
MAKING THE MONSTERS