Resident Evil: Afterlife
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Here is another of the “Little video game movie that could” flicks, this time riding the wave of the latest trend: 3D. Believe it or not this is the fourth movie in the series. That must make it the most successful franchise based on a game ever, and it is certainly providing star Milla Jovovich with steady work, so I guess that’s something.
But does that mean this is actual a good film?
Well grab your gun and your green herb (that’s a video game joke, not a pot joke) and let’s once more go into the hellish world that the evil Umbrella Corporation built.
This movie picks up right where the third one ended, in fact if you haven’t seen all of the Resident Evil flicks, then you may be left scratching your head a lot during this one. Sure they do a “previously on” sort of wrap up, but it’s brief and still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. However such a nitpick may not really be that big of a deal. After all, how many people jump into a multi-film series by watching the last movie first?
Anyway, the film is set in a world overrun by the undead, mutants, and undead mutants as a result of the “T Virus” which was created by the evil company, with the laughable name, Umbrella. Super powered Alice and her army of equally powerful clones raid an Umbrella stronghold looking for answers, payback and the super powered baddie; Albert Wesker. In short order all of Alice’s clones are killed off because while one sexy Mila Jovovich doing gratuitous amounts of slo-mo-fu is kind of badass, a whole army of them is just ridiculous and means nothing can be a real threat to the protagonists, thereby killing any dramatic tension before it can even begin.
Yes that means that the whole “army of Alices” plot was completely pointless, but I digress.
Wesker gets away (because he can’t die) as does a single Alice (because the producers will never kill of Mila’s character, the only strong point these movies have) and some time passes.
We next see Alice flying around the world, still looking for answers. She runs into a group of survivors (almost literally) living at the top of a skyscraper who want to check out a nearby ship where a radio signal says food, medicine, and safety can be found. Yeah, I’m sure everything about that ship is on the up and up. Alas, the only problem with that plan is the sea of zombies and various mutated freaks between the survivors and the ship.
From there the Zombie Apocalypse Handbook is followed pretty much to the letter, with only slight variations on tired themes.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is not technically a bad film, but it is a far sight from good. It is a very safe action flick with shades of horror. I say “shades” as nothing is ever really scary, suspenseful, atmospheric or anything so related to fright films. It is solidly a modern action movie (read as: overly relying on CGI) with undead flesh munchers taking the place of terrorists or drug dealers.
Perhaps the best thing about this movie is the slavish fan service it displaces for those who have played the RE video games. That is especially true for the latest game, Resident Evil 5. Not only do the tentacle-mouthed zombies show up, but so does a ridiculous large dude with a bag on his head and a humongous axe. That’s right; it’s the game’s lovable Executioner and as silly as the Hulk-sized zombie axe man looks in “real life” (again read as: CGI) he does offer a pretty good slo-mo-rific fight scene, easily the highlight of this film. Pity the rest of the movie is nowhere near as inspired.
Now while I cannot comment on the 3D aspect of this film, as I do not have a 3D TV. The Blu-ray just out by Sony does also offer a bright, clear 2D version. In addition there are quite a few extras of note. Trailers, deleted scenes, outtakes, you know, all the usual fare, and that includes a director’s commentary track. There are a bunch of mini-features (seven, to be exact) that individually are kind of short, but all together provides about 50 minutes of extra content. The indisputable best extra on the disc is a Blu-ray exclusive picture-in-picture video commentary track. What makes it so neat is that it contains quite a bit of info that you can’t find anywhere else. That means it’s actually worth viewing, imagine that.
If you’ve seen all the other Resident Evil flicks then you’ll probably dig this one. While it offers nothing really new, it does bring more of the same zombie mashing action you obviously like. If you are new to the world of RE then you would be best served starting with the first movie and working your way up, less you be more than a little lost. So as a sequel it is mostly passable but as a standalone film … well not so much.