Old 09-12-2010, 02:26 PM
Paul W.S. Anderson's Resident Evil: Afterlife

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Paul W.S. Anderson's "Resident Evil: Afterlife" is the fourth film in the series based off of the popular video games. It didn't seem like anyone was particularly demanding yet another sequel, especially after the disastrous second and third installments, but here we have it anyway. It's loud, bland, gory, and has very little to offer in the way of story. Don't tell me you were actually expecting something else.

It starts off pretty much where the third film left off. Alice (Milla Jovovich) makes her way to a Japanese city and infiltrates a large underground structure where the Umbrella Corporation is still carrying on business as usual. Alice is not alone however. You may recall at the end of the third film, Alice found a whole arsenal of Alice clones. She puts them to use for infiltrating Umbrella, causing massive destruction throughout the complex. One of the chairmen, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), manages to escape, but not before activating a self-destruct mechanism that obliterates the complex.

Luckily, the real Alice manages to get away and continues her search for a city in Alaska that is supposed to be free of the infection that now covers the globe, turning ordinary humans into flesh-eating zombies. Eventually she runs into Claire (Ali Larter), whom she met in the previous film. Together they make their way to a prison where a group of survivors are walled up awaiting rescue from a nearby ship. Shortly after, some of the creatures outside the walls begin to find ways to get inside. The group decides that their best bet is to get to the ship as fast as possible.

There has been a steady trend throughout these four films. Each one seems to have less story than the one before it. I actually found the original "Resident Evil" to be a decent zombie film. It was fun, exciting, and had a decent storyline, though it was nowhere near the quality of the good George Romero zombie films. Sure there were large plotholes (why did the hive lock down so long after the virus outbreak?), but there's something about the story of infiltrating the mystery of the hive and having to complete their mission in such a confined area all while dealing with a homicidal computer that keeps me coming back to it.

The second film on the other hand was just out of control. They try to set up a storyline that has Alice and some other survivors attempting to rescue the daughter of a scientist in order to get out of a city populated by zombies. Not only was it dull, but it was also quite silly as it culminated in a Mortal Kombat-like fight between Alice and the product of the Nemesis Project that even contains the words "finish him."

The third film steps up the incomprehensible action scenes while once again skimming on the story. This one has Alice traveling with a band of survivors across a desert in hopes of finding a safe haven while the Umbrella Corporation tries to make clones of her. Practically nothing happens in this entry. The one positive thing about it was the seeming promise of an all-out revenge flick for the fourth installment as Alice warns Umbrella that she is coming for them.

Now that you're all caught up, we can get into this latest sequel. It starts with what we came to expect from the ending of the previous film, but what we get in place of the all-out revenge flick is a quick ten minutes or so of multiple Alices running around shooting everything in sight and a small confrontation on an airplane before it once again moves on to being about finding a non-infected area.

The most this film can come up with for a story is trying to get to a boat through thousands of zombies, something very similar to the remake of "Dawn of the Dead," but just like the previous entries, there is practically no character development, so we never end up caring about whether or not the characters make it to where their trying to get to or not.

The film has a small array of creatures to offer including the usual walking dead. There is also a large creature that carries an ax of sorts that looked like it walked off the set of "Silent Hill" (who can blame it?). Near the end, our heroes must fight off some humorous looking dogs whose heads and necks split down the middle to reveal many teeth. These dogs have come a long way from the original film where they simply looked like their skin had been removed.

Perhaps the fans of the games (none of which I have ever played) will find something to like about this film, but looking at it as a stand-alone movie, there is just not very much here, certainly nothing that the other films didn't do already. This entry leaves it open for yet another sequel, making you wonder how much more story this series could lose. If it loses much more, we're simply going to have Jovovich standing in place while firing a gun for 90 minutes, and you know what? People would probably pay to see it. 1.5/4 stars.

(Note: I did not see this in 3-D. My experience is that 3-D adds very little to movies that aren't trying to create an in-depth environment. Here, in 2-D, it was obvious that they merely wanted to stick objects out towards the audience as things are shamelessly tossed toward or poked at the camera.)

Last edited by Hal2001; 09-16-2012 at 07:48 PM..
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