Monday, September 13, 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3-D (2010)


Title: Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Director/Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter

Review:

I’ve never connected the Resident Evil film franchise with the video games. To me they have always been a different entity altogether. Paul W.S. Anderson, this franchises puppet master has never seemed to me like a director who’s interested in doing a faithful adaptation of these games. He simply set out to make a series of zombie films, which as it turns out have become a very successful franchise. The use of the name ‘Resident Evil’ is simply there to ride on the games success. Because a film named after one of the most successful video game franchises ever is destined to pull in an audience member or two. This fourth installment alone, thanks to the benefit of the 3-D wave that’s sweeping the nation (and the raise in ticket prices that follow it) is well on its way to making its money back. And another sequel is surely on the way. But hey, let’s get down to the bottom line, to the nitty gritty: was this sequel any good?


Storyline this time around picks up exactly where the last film (Resident Evil: Extinction) left us: with Alice waking up and reprogramming an army of clones ready to take on the Umbrella Corporation, which they do. Unfortunately, Wesker (the head of Umbrella Corporation) escapes! But not before he annihilates all the clones with one gigantic anti-matter bomb! Now Alice must survive the wasteland, and the undead on her own! Will she ever find the elusive city of ‘Arcadia’? The last human city, which is said to be free of infection and zombies? Is it true? Is there such a place?

Dont like where the last movie you made was headed? Blow everything up with anti-matter on the next one!

I like the continuity this series has, one starts off where the other one left off. You feel like the story is defenetly unfolding, at a snails pace, but it is unfolding. The thing about these series of films is that they never really dive too much into the ‘story’ or the mythology that these films have created for themselves. Its as if they want to stretch things just enough to keep your interest, entertain you, and then leave you with a cliffhanger so you’ll want to come back for the next sequel. It kind of reminds me of those cliffhanger serials from the 50’s. They also remind of when I read a comic book, you always gotta come back for the next issue, because you just have to know what happens next. But inspite of the fact that these series of films are pretty shallow entertainment, I still enjoy them. You just have to go in knowing that you are not going to get much in the story department. You gotta go into these films knowing that you are simply going get a decent dosage of stylish action and zombie mayhem.


Does it work as a zombie movie? Well, truth be told I sometimes felt like the filmmakers forgot that this was supposed to be a zombie movie. So much so that when I finally did get to see some zombies I literally said out loud "finally!" There are moments in the film where there is not a zombie in sight! We don’t see enough of the undead! Cool thing is that when we finally do get to see them they are many. I loved those scenes with hoards and hoards of zombies trying to break into the building; I just wish we could have seen more of them. It seems to me that the zombie threat is one of the driving forces behind the whole franchise, behind the games even. As it turns out, we only get one great zombie sequence on this film, and that’s it. But to the films credit, it’s a pretty memorable one, I really enjoyed it. Plus on this film the zombies have mutated and have these extra set of teeth that emerge from their mouths, like tentacles. Pretty cool image, kind of reminded me of the reapers from Guillermo del Toro’s Blade II (2002). But after the big zombie scene, the story focuses more on going into one of Umbrella Corporation’s science labs and finding Wesker, the head honcho.


Speaking of Wesker, the main villain, I was disappointed with the way they portrayed him. He is supposed to be the main villain in the film, and he is more of a behind the scenes type of character. Problem is that for a villain, he was the least threatening character in the film. You expect a character like this guy to be an imposing memorable villain, but he wasn’t. What a let down! With Wesker we keep getting this tease, like he is going to transform into some kind of creature or something, but it never happens. Sadly. I guess we’ll get to see that in the upcoming fifth installment, which according to Milla Jovovich is “definitely happening”.


Not all is fun an games though, this film does have one gigantic flaw in my book. And its something that Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) also suffered from: Paul W.S. Anderson's need to rip off entire scenes from other movies. I know, I know, you are going to say that if guys like Quentin Tarantino can do it, then why not this guy? Well, thing is Tarantino gets inspiration from all those movies from the 70’s and then goes and does his own thing, gives it his own twist. Paul W.S. Anderson does not do this. Anderson films the exact same scene, shot by shot and then calls it his own. Which sucks in my book! In Resident Evil Extinction, the film that came before this one, he was ripping off entire sequences from Day of the Dead (1985) and The Road Warrior (1981). On Resident Evil: Afterlife you will see whole sequences that you’ll swear were copy pasted from The Matrix (1999). Cause they were. We get bullet time (again), we get chicks falling out of windows in slow mo (dressed in black of course) as they shoot their guns. I mean the word that comes to mind is 'blatant'. As in blatant rip off. At least Tarantino has a sense to rip off movies from the 70’s. Theres a chance that a huge part of the audience wont even know where he is getting his stuff from. But Anderson steals from The Matrix! A movie everyone is familiar with! Other films that got ripped off on this one: Dawn of the Dead (1978), Land of the Dead (2005) and Escape from New York (1981). So you’ve been warned, don’t expect a completely original film.

3-D Ninja Stars coming at ya!

So Resident Evil: Afterlife is pretty much empty calories. But its pretty looking empty calories. As if Milla Jovovich wasn’t a special effect onto herself already, the 3-D element was solid. I’ll give it that much. Milla’s guns seem to jump right out of the screen, the fights and effects were all enhanced, it was a fun 3-D movie, I loved seeing that horde of zombies on 3-D, I just wish that they had taken advantage of the 3-D element a bit more, especially when it came to the zombies. Alas, I was left wanting on this department. Still, lots of ninja stars, swords, and bullets are hurled our way thanks to the goofy glasses phenomenon. For the 3-D alone I’d say this would be worth going to the movies for. I guess when 3-D is done right and is not half assed it can be extremely fun. Just know that this is a comic book movie every step of the way, characters will do unbelievable things, and emphasis will be placed on making things look 'cool' rather than making things make sense. The ending is a cliffhanger which will no doubt make you return for yet another sequel and  I’m all for it! This franchises last two films, though not mind blowing in any sense of the word have been entertaining in my book.
 
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Resident Evil - Extinction (Widescreen Special Edition)Resident Evil Trilogy 1-3Resident Evil - Apocalypse (Special Edition)

17 comments:

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Fair review. It's nice to see a sensible review with some great points.

I loved your point about the comic book and serialized nature of the series. Spot on!

It gives you enough to keep coming back and delivers on entertainment with Milla and now Ali for the testosterone set. What more could you ask for?

You mentioned Escape From New York. It's funny, but Apocalypse felt very Escape From New York for me and I liked it alot actually.

Each installment has been refreshingly different in style from the last.

I have to say no gripes really. I suppose we can star an installment of the RE series, but it's a love hate thing and i love them for what they bring. Milla.

Great points Franscisco! Thanks.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Thanks Sci-Fi Fanatic!

Paul W.S. Anderson apparently loves to feed from those movies that influenced him a lot, which is fair, but come on, dont do entire scenes just like them!

For example, that zombie they try to domesticate in EXTINCTION, that was an obvious reference to DAY OF THE DEAD, but its just so blatantly a rip off because they try to domesticate it in the exact same way, by making it listen to music...and giving it a gun.

Or how about that scene in EXTINCTION where the good guys break in by crashing through the gates with the big truck, exactly the same way Mel Gibson does in ROAD WARRIOR.

He does it again on this film by having Alice land her plane on top of a building exactly in the same way that Snake Plissken did in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.

Two of Alice's clones jump out of a window in slow mo while shooting their guns just like Trinity did in THE MATRIX.

A characater dodges bullets as fast as they do in THE MATRIX, the effect is even similar, then they slow things down just like in THE MATRIX so we can see the bullets whizzing by, it doesnt get more blatant than that!

But whatever, his movies do this, but they also bring a bunch of entertaining stuff to the table, and its a fun ride, plus the 3-D was a fun element.

Basically I pretty much feel the same way for this one, as I did for EXTINCTION, not the greatest movies ever, but they achieve their purpose of entertaining.

Thanks for commenting!

J.D. said...

"The thing about these series of films is that they never really dive too much into the ‘story’ or the mythology that these films have created for themselves. Its as if they want to stretch things just enough to keep your interest, entertain you, and then leave you with a cliffhanger so you’ll want to come back for the next sequel. It kind of reminds me of those cliffhanger serials from the 50’s."

I love this observation and I think that's why I keep coming back to this franchise. Actually, EXTINCTION is probably my fave film of the series and yeah, the franchise shamelessly rips off other films but in a way that I actually don't mind and yet the way it is done in a film like DOOMSDAY really bugs the hell out of me so go figure. I guess it really depends on the film and how they do it.

I do have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic futureworld and so mixing it with zombies was a great combo with EXTINCTION. Also, it didn't hurt that you've got a hot looking Ali Larter kicking ass and I'm glad they brought her back for this new film!

HorrO said...

This was the first movie I saw in IMAX 3D. Visually it was awesome. The 3D was the best i have seen yet. The movie was a little short on action. I love watching Alice kick ass. And your right, the more zombies the better.

The Film Connoisseur said...

@J.D.: I feel the same way, I know they are taking a whole lot from other films (and I recognize the shamelessness in this) but I still enjoy the movies.

Like you, Im a sucker for both post apocalyptic movies and zombie movies, so Im in no matter what!

Oh yeah, DOOMSDAY is a good example, that was an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK wanna be every step of the way!

Also, films produced by Anderson suffer the same ilness, for example AVP: REQUIEM had whole scenes stolen from the first PREDATOR movie and from James Cameron's ALIENS.

Agree on the appeal of having both Larter and Jovovich kicking ass and looking the way they do while doing it.

@HoRRO: Watching it in 3-D on a regular movie screen is one thing...but damn, you saw it on IMAX you lucky dog! We dont have IMAX screens here in Puerto Rico...yet!

J.D. said...

It's the same way with Robert Rodriguez's films. He steals from a lot of other films/filmmakers but I still love his stuff anyways. And yet, I'm not a huge Tarantino fan for pretty much the same reason (alto, I do love JACKIE BROWN). Go figure. Maybe it's because Rodriguez doesn't pretend to be anything but what he is. And same goes for the RESIDENT EVIL films. They sure aren't high art but pretty decent B-movies nonetheless.

Will said...

Great review. I have been anxious to see this one since the last one ended (though I thought, and I always wonder WHY, in this day and age I think this, the last one was the last one!).

I myself find them 'pretty empty calories' as I absolutely adore the first and third films (I tolerate the second one). I do remember the third film being the most uncomfortable film I ever saw though because it was SO LOUD in the theater and there was about 900 jump scares so I could never relax. Haha. . .oh well. . .

About Paul W.S. Anderson: I think he has a marvelous vision. Even in his lesser films (Death Race) and even-lesser films (AVP), he has an amazing visual style but even I, upon seeing the trailer, thought I was rewatching bits of The Matrix Reloaded!

Resident Evil (1) and Mortal Kombat are the best video game movies ever made and they both happen to be directed by Paul W.S. Anderson so...props there but you are correct: the first film is as close as it gets to the video games. I don't consider the sequels video game movies at all.

The Film Connoisseur said...

@J.D.: True about Robert Rodriguez, I was watching John Woo's THE KILLER last weekend and it dawned upon me "so this is where EL MARIACHI came from!"

Thing about Rodriguez is that he does get a lot of stuff from other films, but he isnt as obvious as Paul W.S. Anderson is. I mean, you can see PLANET TERROR and you can see it has a lot of what we saw in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, but he takes it his own way, he deviates more so it doesnt look exactly like that movie. Same with Tarantino. Though the thing about Tarantino is he takes things from movies that most people dont see, so that works in his advantage.

Thanks for commenting J.D.!

@Will: I also despise the second film, it doesnt even fit the rhyme scheme as they say.

I dont totally despise Anderson's style of filmmaking, in my opinion most of his films are eye candy, but there was one film that I really loved of his and that was EVENT HORIZON. If only he could go back to making films like that one, but even on that one he was borrowing heavily from films like 2010, THE BLACK HOLE and HELLRAISER.

Thanks for commenting Will!

J.D. said...

Will:

Hah, I had THE exact same experience watching EXTINCTION in the theater - the sound was cranked up WAY too loud. Of course, it didn't help that I was sitting in the third row, but I digress.

The Film Connoisseur:

heh, that's so true re: EL MARIACHI. And DESPERADO is even more of a Woo tribute which is probably one of the reasons why I like it so much. Yeah, I think PLANET TERROR might be my fave Rodriguez film is only because it is such an unabashed love letter to the films of John Carpenter and George Romero.

And yes, I can think we can all agree that RESIDENT EVIL 2 was the weakest of the series.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Yeah, I remember thinking that John Carpenter's influence on PLANET TERROR is heard more than seen, the soundtrack is pure Carpenter!

I recently re-watched PLANET OF TERROR and was 100% convinved about how much I love that movie. It thrashy, b-movie fun every step of the way.

HorrO said...

After that experience, I would say if you ever get a chance to catch a movie on IMAX 3D, DO IT!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I'm okay with Apocalypse. I guess I'm in the minority there, but I love the Nemesis project and that aspect of the film. Some of the action is terrific for me and I do like the mood of it.

But I like all four films because of their unique visualizations.

The Film Connoisseur said...

@Horro: I'll make sure and watch something on IMAX as soon as its available Horro, for now, they dont have that kind of screen here unfortunately.

@Sci-Fi Fanatic: Yeah, I can tolerate Apocalypse, but I think its pretty unanimous that fans of the series kind of despise that one. I did like the way the NEMESIS angle went, but I didnt like how dark it was, and I mean dark as in not well lit. Sometimes you can hardly see what's going on. Also, the comedic element just didnt work for me either, with the comedy relief character..

I am curious for it now, and have been meaning to re-watch it, actually I almost bought it this past weekend! But I think I'll just rent it.

ATXEIN said...

Pues esta es casi me preferida de esta saga, saga que no me acaba de decir demasiado, y es la que mas zombies y estilo cinematográfico zombie tiene¡¡ Que era el grandísimo lastre de esta franquicia..
Pero estoy del todo de acuerdo en que vemos demasiado que ya es la repetición de la repetición..

Eso si, el primer cuarto de hora es genial¡¡ Lástima que en la mejor parte de la peli NO haya zombies.. Pero esto es Resident evil..pura acción, sin mayor sentido..

Un saludo¡¡

The Film Connoisseur said...

Estoy contigo Atxein, creo que las ultimas dos peliculas en la serie han sido las mejores de todas...ya que esta entrada hizo tantos millones (gracias a los precios inflados del 3-D claro)pues quizas la proxima sea la mejor de todas.

Gracias por comentar!

Carl Manes said...

I cant be bothered with this one, the series has only disappointed for me. I dont think I saw a SINGLE zombie in the entire trailer, I'd rather see the House of the Dead sequel than any more RE films (well.. Degeneration was cool..).

PS - DUDE! I caught an Opera pic on your sidebar, sweeeeet! Opera > ALL.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Hey Carl, this movie isnt a masterpiece or anything like that, but its a fun piece. Its got action, cool effects...I mean, it delivers what its promises. Empty calories? Sure! But is it fun? Hells yeah!

I need to see De-generation!

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