September 28, 2010

Movie Review: Resident Evil - Afterlife

residentevil41_largeOh my. What else is there to say? This is either a brilliant piece of cinema that is well ahead of its time, or it is one of the most entertaining disasters I have seen in quite some time. Seriously, I left the theater slack-jawed and mind-whipped. Yes, that about sums it up. It is the sort of movie that probably did not need to be made, yet is perfectly suited to delivering big screen entertainment. Besides all that, the movie is the first released to make use of the Avatar camera to create its 3D effect, that has to count for something, right?

Resident Evil is an interesting franchise. We always here about how video games never translate into good movies. By and large this is a true statement, but somehow this one defies the odds. It has done what Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Super Mario Bros. have failed to do, sustain a franchise that is actually somewhat popular. Crazy, I know, especially when you consider how it has diverged from the game series, which includes a main character that is not from any of the games.

I like the franchise and Afterlife is no exception. No, it is not important by any stretch but it is a whole bunch of fun wrapped up in blood, bullets, and babes. What's not to like? I'd like to say they are perfect for shutting your brain off and enjoying, but at the same time I think you should stay engaged throughout. Only by remaining engaged can you marvel at the oddity that is Paul WS Anderson's latest offering.


Each successive film has further advanced the virus outbreak, zombie infestation, and growing desolation. At the end of Extinction, Claire (Ali Larter) had left with a group of survivors heading to Alaska on the promise of a new society, leaving Alice (Milla Jovovich) in Vegas with her clone army and a promise to take out evil Umbrella's Tokyo corporate office. Afterlife picks up not long after and kicks off with the payoff to that Tokyo threat, although it seems a bit more like an excuse for an action sequence and fan service to get it out of the way. Alice heading to Alaska and Arcadia to reunite with Claire.

Of course, Arcadia proves to not be what she expected and the action moves to California where Alice and Claire meet a new group of survivors. They are holed up in a prison surrounded by zombies. There home quickly comes under siege as zombies start to get in, humans act like morons, and they discover Arcadia was never in Alaska.


You don't really need to know any more than that. The plot is as straightforward as it gets, even when it makes no sense. More so than any of the other entries, this one is so stream of conscious. It jumps from location to location with nothing to connect them, just blink and there you are. Add in the liberal use of slow motion and bullet time sequences, the inexplicable appearance of the Axeman, and the Matrix sequence. It is not that I don't like them, it is just a very odd experience.

Maybe I'm not supposed to like this. Maybe I am supposed to sit back and mock Anderson. Perhaps I should comment on the super-serious way the dialogue is delivered. Maybe I should complain about overuse of gimmicky overused effects. Perhaps I should bemoan the lack of logic. I just don't know. I truly get the impression I am supposed to hate on this movie. I can't.

No, this will not be a film destined to be remembered in the annals of cinema history, but I am too entertained to think about importance. There is no subtext, no comment on society, it is just a lot of fun. I cannot deny it and I won't. I really like Resident Evil: Afterlife.


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