Resident Evil: Afterlife
Review by Jack Foley
PAUL WS Anderson’s Resident Evil franchise has long been one of the most creatively bankrupt exercises in filmmaking – and yet it still shows no sign of flagging.
Based on Capcom Entertainment’s Resident Evil video games, the films take place in a world ravished by a virus that has turned most of the population into flesh-eating zombies.
Caught in the middle, meanwhile, is the beautiful and deadly Alice (played, as ever, by Milla Jovovich), who relentlessly searches for survivors while vowing to take down the ruthless Umbrella organisation responsible for unleashing the virus in the first place.
And that’s about it as far as plot goes… with each new film creating a new post-apocalyptic environment for Alice and company to run around in super slo-mo shooting at each other, while flirting with the idea of bringing things to an end.
Resident Evil: Afterlife picks up in the immediate aftermath of Resident Evil: Extinction and finds Alice running amok in Japan, attempting to put an end to Umbrella chairman Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). The ‘appeal’ this time is that events unfold in 3D.
Alas, the opening sequence feels hugely derivative of The Matrix series as a whole, and The Matrix: Reloaded in particular, and brings nothing new to the action genre in terms of style or concept. Rather, it’s repetitive, overly stylised, emotionally un-engaging, dramatically devoid of suspense and indicative of what is to follow.
From then on, Alice heads to LA via Alaska to team up with an old colleague (Ali Larter’s now amnesia ridden Claire) as well as a new pocket of survivors (including Wentworth Miller’s jailbreak expert) to seek out Arcadia, a virus-free promised land that may or may not exist.
Incredibly, Resident Evil: Afterlife marks only Anderson’s second time behind the camera on this particular franchise (he mostly produces) and is clearly designed as an exercise for him to get used to working in a 3D format.
As such, some of the 3D sequences make better use of the format than some recent titles, such as an encounter with an over-sized axe-man in a shower-room and a chase sequence atop a roof that ends in a lemming-like plunge for several hundred zombies.
But such moments of ‘quality’ are in short supply. The rest of the movie adheres too strictly to the first-person shoot-‘em-up style of the games, seldom pausing to draw breath in between the extended – and quite frankly routine – action sequences.
What passes for plot lacks much logic, or any real explanation, while there’s nothing resembling character depth or progression. Anderson, meanwhile, also appears alarmingly content to plunder other, better, action movies for inspiration for the innumerable encounters that follow (from The Matrix to Pitch Black and beyond).
Come the over-cooked finale and another false hope ending that sets things in motion for a potential fifth adventure, you’ll be screaming out for some form of closure. But then, if you’ve made it this far already, you kind of get what you deserve.
Running time: 97mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 10, 2011
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