Both the second and the fourth instalments of the Resident Evil film series (of the science-fiction/horror/action genre) written by Paul W.S. Anderson were shot in Ontario, with Toronto and its suburbs depicting cities in the distant future ruined after a viral outbreak. This time Toronto isn't pretending to be New York, Detroit, or Chicago, but is playing an apocalyptic wasteland full of flesh-eating zombies — which gives the authors the freedom to feature all the recognizable landmarks without stating that it actually is Toronto. Would you call this progress? Toronto really seems to be a favourite destination for the undead; just remember movies such as Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, or Dawn of the Dead that were also shot here. Resident Evil: Apocalypse began filming started in August, 2003.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Notice the clear presence of our New City Hall:
The bright star of the series based on the Capcom survival video game Resident Evil is the model-turned-actress Milla Jovovich, who plays Alice, one of the few survivors who are trying to escape the zombie-infested Racoon City alive and fight Umbrella Corporation. After the T-virus outbreak, the city becomes a ghost town, full of zombies and other bloodthirsty creatures. Alice was part of scientific experiments resulting in her superhuman strength, which she uses to fight off enemies, and she sets out to destroy the evil Umbrella Corporation. The movies take a lot of inspiration from the video computer games, so it's interesting to see how the production transformed Toronto into a futuristic metropolis with the help of many special effects.
- The favourite location for zombie attacks is apparently the suburban Brampton neighbourhood. Resident Evil is not the first movie that used this location; watch it closely at the very beginning while setting up the story.
- The first sequence showing Alice waking up in the hospital through to her cocking a shotgun outside consists entirely of footage shot for the first film.
- The best cemetery scenes in all zombie movies are a classic — this time filmed in a cemetery in Hamilton and its downtown, where the rioting starts.
- Let's have a look at the Racoon City locations: the "Racoon City Junior School" that was visited by the Men in Black is actually Central Tech. The characters return to the school later on, finding it empty and spooky. The interior shots are from Central Tech, Bloor Collegiate, and Northern Secondary.
- The main entrance to the city is the Prince Edward Viaduct (aka the Bloor Viaduct), representing the Ravens' Gate. While shooting the scenes of fleeing citizens through its checkpoint, Torontonians were unable to use the bridge for a whole weekend!
- TD Canada Trust Tower is even prominent in the movie poster and the logos of Canada's largest banks are featured prominently in the skyline shots of the city.
- Toronto City Hall and Exhibition Place were used as Umbrella's worldwide headquarters and have a significant appearance in the end.
- One of the ideas to explain the very few clothes Milla wears is a "heat wave" that hit Racoon City. But remember that the movie was shot in November!
- Filming was threatened to be shut down when there was a SARS outbreak in Toronto.
- One of the key scenes and the elaborate grand finale fight takes place at Nathan Philips Square, where most of the action shots happen right at the City Hall podium. Milla Jovovich's stunt even runs down one of the City Hall towers!
- Not the brightest of endings for our lovely Toronto: Racoon City is blown up in the air (starting with City Hall) at the end of the movie to put an end to all the voracious zombies. Well, it's worth the $300 million that the movie has grossed so far!
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
The fourth of the movies, Resident Evil: Afterlife, written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, is a 3D spectacle starring the stunning Milla Jovovich along with Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Spencer Locke, and Wentworth Miller. In a world ravaged by a viral infection turning its victims into zombies, Alice continues to find survivors and bring them to safety. This time, Toronto stands for the futuristic Los Angeles, which is deserted after the T-virus outbreak once again. The filming took place from September to December 2009 over a period of 55 days, with large parts of it shot at Cinespace Film Studios (many action scenes were shot in front of a green screen and digitally processed).
- This is the first live-action movie based on a video game to be in 3D. Watch the commentary from the crew and the actors:
- While most of the "Los Angeles" shots were from Toronto, the opening scene was filmed at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.
- The location depicting an Alaskan beach was filmed at Sandbanks Provincial Park but a second crew was sent to Alaska for the remaining shots.
- The underwater scenes were filmed in large cargo shipping containers that were transformed into giant tanks on stage.
- Toronto police received hundreds of calls from concerned neighbours after a scene involving a burning plane crashed.
- The interior of Umbrella Corporation's underground lair in Tokyo were actually filmed at the University of Toronto's Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. The director was inspired by the architecture of its spacious atrium, shooting at night so that the glass walls could later be digitally replaced by concrete.
- Here is some exclusive footage of the fun behind the scenes where you can spot the different locations that you might recognize:
- U of T's Robarts Library was used to portray exterior shots of the LA prison because of its resemblance to the many futuristic monumental structures. Other scenes were shot at University of Toronto Scarborough.
- Milla Jovovich accidentally destroyed a $100,000 camera during shooting.
- Earning around $300 million worldwide, the film is the highest-grossing Canadian film.
- The scenes with the ship called Arcadia were shot at the Toronto docks, which were later all stripped out digitally. Where did the Toronto Docks disappear to in this clean scene?