Title: Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Director/Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter
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