First, a precursor to my thoughts. Yes, I enjoyed the “Resident Evil” video games as much as the next guy. I, however, was able to completely separate my feelings for the games, from my feelings for the movies. I didn’t expect characters to stop once an hour and mess around with a typewriter in order to save their progress. I don’t care that the movies don’t follow the game’s storyline. I knew going in to the first film that it was simply based on the game’s likeness, and not meant to be a companion piece. I would also like to state that, unlike my partner in crime, I enjoyed the third film. I was perfectly aware that it was the weakest in the series up to that point, but was still able to enjoy it for the brain dead popcorn action flick that it was. I have no biases going into “Resident Evil: Afterlife”. I wasn’t going into the film looking for things to hate. I just wanted to be entertained. So before anyone tries to discredit my opinion with such silly arguments, realize that you are wasting your breath.
“Resident Evil: Afterlife” picks up where “Extinction” left off. The survivors are en route via chopper, to a supposed sanctuary in Alaska. Alice is on her way to the underground Umbrella headquarters with her army of clones. The opening scene leads the viewer to believe that there is going to be non-stop, gore soaked badassery. Despite it clearly borrowing(heavily) from every other action film made since John Woo’s “The Killer”, Alice and her clones destroying a massive army of Umbrella foot soldiers was exciting to watch. Blood and body parts drenched the screen, and we felt like we were in for a hell of a good time. If you’re planning on seeing this movie, hit a matinee up, and leave after this scene ends, because after this, it becomes completely incoherent, and somehow, in a world completely overrun by the walking dead, I found myself bored.
For a movie about zombies, the scenes involving zombies are practically non existent. A good portion of the film is set on top of a building surrounded by hundreds of thousands of the undead, so one would think that this horde is going to be utilized at some point throughout. One would be wrong. Aside from a very brief encounters with the diverse cast of characters, and some off-screen kills, the zombies are used as a backdrop. A means to justify making a zombie movie, but never turns into a tangible entity.
One thing I did enjoy about this film is the 3D. Those of you that have ever spoken to me will know, that this is really saying something. The 3D boom as of late has left a bad taste in my mouth. Films that have no business being in 3D(Step Up?) are being churned out by the metric fuckton. I think filmmakers would do themselves a service to claim beforehand, whether the film was originally intended to be in 3D, or if it was converted afterward to be so. Before “RE:A” my last 3D experience was with Alexandre Aja’s “Piranha” remake. While there were a couple of scenes that made the 3D aspect of the film interesting(Piranha burping a penis toward the screen) for the most part it was headache inducing. Long, background heavy wide shots have no business being in 3D, it does not make for a pleasurable experience. The only film I had seen at the theater in this new 3D technology that I had enjoyed up until this point was the remake of “My Bloody Valentine”. The 3D in “RE:A” is very impressive. It blows away every other attempt at 3D cinema. The “RE” films have always looked gorgeous. Crisp, clear picture, with ultra popping colors, and supreme elements of detail have always made these films stand out. The original “RE” film on DVD looks better upscaled than a lot of Blu-Rays. Couple that with competent 3D technology, cinematography, and knowing when and why to use 3D, and you have a genuinely good experience. It’s too bad that the film it’s self was so terrible, otherwise this would have been the ultimate popcorn movie.
The one unforgivable mistake a film like this can make is to be boring. Aside from a couple of entertaining scenes, “RE:A” manages to be completely boring. It’s hard to condemn a “Resident Evil” film for being unoriginal, but I think one of the main reasons it fails is because of the fore mentioned heavy borrowing from other films. Had the matrix style slow motion scenes been removed from the movie, it probably would have subtracted 20 minutes at least from the run time. One scene in particular brings the entire film to a halt, completely pauses, and then spins around showing us various angles of nothing happening. It’s completely unnecessary. There are several scenes that were lifted directly from the matrix. One scene in particular that is shown in the film’s trailers is a scene where our lead character dives out of a window backwards, and dual fires guns in bullet time, dodging falling glass. The film is riddled with this nonsense all throughout, and actually becomes even more unbearable in the final act. Something else you may recognize is the creatures look an awfully lot like the super vampires from “Blade 2” face splitting and all. I am aware that these are based on characters from the game, but they could have done a better job with the design. When Ted and I came out of the theater, I told him I thought Paul W.S. Anderson got really stoned one night, watched The Matrix, and Blade II, passed out and woke up the next day with a head full of ideas.
The acting is fine for the most part, but Shawn Roberts puts in a nauseatingly terrible performance as Albert Wesker. It may not be his fault, he may have just been told to give the camera his best Agent Smith impression, regardless, it’s so bad that even if you’ve enjoyed the movie otherwise it will kill the mood for you.
If your film already has an R rating, why not use it? Despite a few random F-bombs here and there, and a couple of scenes of graphic beheadings at the beginning, the film is virtually bloodless. A lot of the deaths/kills are off-screen. There IS however, a very cool headshot. Brain matter flies at your face, and I must give credit where credit is due, that as pretty badass. Other than that though, there aren’t any graphic deaths, Mila doesn’t go gearless. The whole affair probably could have been given a really hard PG-13 if it weren’t for the random F-bombs. If you’ve already went through the trouble of alienating the 12 year old demographic, why not give the audience you are now catering to what they want? I’m not saying more gore would have saved this terrible, terrible movie, but it couldn’t have hurt.
“Resident Evil: Afterlife” may well be one of the worst films I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t deliver any of the things that we’ve come to expect from the franchise. The previous films were never high art, but they were entertaining, which is the purpose of movies to begin with. If you can’t hook your core audience, who are you making your film for? I’m giving this film a 3/10, which is fairly liberal. If it weren’t for the excellent 3D effects, it would probably be closer to 1.5/10.