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Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) *1/2

September 12, 2010

 

written by: Paul W. S. Anderson 

produced by: Paul W. S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody, Bernd Eichinger, Samuel Hadida & Robert Kulzer

directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson 

rated R (for sequences of strong violence and language) 

97 min. 

U.S. release date: September 10, 2010 

With the exception of the geographic creativity in 2007’s “Resident Evil: Extinction”, all these movies seem a blur to me. I do recall that, for a video game adaptation, I was quite impressed with the first movie back in 2002 and yet I can’t seem to remember the 2004 sequel. Oh, I know which actors were adapting the characters from the uber-successful Capcom video games, but what they did (besides try to stay alive) escapes me. See? It’s all a blur.  

After handing off director duties to the two sequels of this undying apocalyptic franchise, writer/producer/director Paul W.S. Anderson is back at the helm once again. Bringing back his wife and reliable lead, the commanding and enjoyable Milla Jovovich, and reuniting some actors from the TV series “Prison Break”, Anderson gives more of the same mindless sci-fi horror.  

This time around, Anderson has employed James Cameron’s 3D Fusion Camera System as an added gimmick and I cannot say anything to that effect since I saw it in 2D. For the first time, I actually wished I had experienced the sharp crispness of 3D, since I was subjected to a methodically flat, dull, and boring exercise.  

The worst crime committed here is one of continuity. There is plenty of it and that’s a great thing for the series rabid fans but this is not a film that is easily accessible to anyone out of the loop. It starts out with an army of Alice clones invading the underground Tokyo branch of the Umbrella corporation. Where did all these clones come from and how were they made? Is someone controlling them? If so, who? And how in the weird were seemingly miles of these underground evil lairs built? Silly me, it matters not.  

   

 

It is revealed that the real Alice (Milla Jovovich) is still alive and kicking, and as she promised in the last movie, she brought her guns and ammo to Japan. Her mission: to kill the evil Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts, replacing the superior Jason O’ Mara), who likes to throw around his sunglasses as much as his expressionless half-smirks. After Tokyo is seemingly obliterated, Alice takes us to Alaska and we’re given a series of her expositional-friendly video recordings (intending for the proverbial “anyone else out there”) to play catch-up with the audience.  

Again, if you haven’t seen the last film you wouldn’t know that we last saw a group of survivors led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) take off in a helicopter due north, at Alice’s suggestion. Apparently, there is a rumored safe haven called Arcadia somewhere up there, free from the dreaded T-virus outbreak that has infected the world. Alice finds only finds a feral, memory-impaired Claire and together the take to the skies, flying their way down to (where else?) Los Angeles because viewers have not this city devastated enough on the big screen.  

They find the only rooftop that reads “Help Us” and manage to land (or as Alice puts it “crash”) their plane on what they learn is an abandoned prison complex. The two are introduced to a roll call of the proverbial expendable “remaining humans”, who are surrounded by a horde of the flesh-eating infected on the streets below. The mostly annoying supporting cast is led by former basketball player, Luther (Boris Kodjoe,”Surrogates”) sleazy movie producer, Bennett (Kim Coates, “Prison Break”) his intern, Kim Yong (Norman Yeung), and a wannabe actress, Crystal (Kacey Barnfield), who was a junior swimming champ (that’ll prove handy in a Shelly Winters moment) that came to Hollywood for “the dream”. Am I quoting too many clichés? Consider it a coping mechanism, my way of dealing with a  ham-handed script.  

After a violent creature infiltration, Alice convinces the majority of the group that the mysteriously imprisoned Chris (Wentworth Miller, delivering his token brooding stares and whispering lines) knows the only way out. Of course he does and he also knows where the local armory is, but we’re told he’s supposedly a dangerous killer (and who isn’t in this world?) and his last name is Redfield. Plus, he’s Wentworth Miller, so he knows his way out of a prison. I get it. With Chris free, the rest of the cast can now die off in gruesome fashion as he, Claire and Alice make their way to the real Arcadia where Wesker has readied a showdown reception. 

   

  

  

Not that Anderson has ever infused any semblance of logic to these films, but this lazy script  is bullet-ridden with gaping holes. While the film is clearly all visual delight, there are some needless stops along the way that are infuriating. Alice takes time to show Luther her arsenal of portable weaponry….ah, impressive! Then effort is made to show how she likes to collect gold coins and use them as ammo in her shotguns. We later see her using this method, obliterating various enemies in overused slo-mo fashion. Coins raining down to the ground after successful kills. Huh? How exactly does money kill? 

Then there’s a scene where Alice and Claire confront this giant, hooded monster in a shower.  No, it’s not that kind of shower sene. This unstoppable foe was last scene pounding on the compound  gates with his enormous hammer/blade thing and has now just appeared right behind our two heroes. Really? No one heard him coming? It’s clear this is a character from the video games that just had to be inserted into the film but he/it becomes a throwaway character, a threat that is incoherently introduced and dispensed with. 

I don’t know why I bother having storytelling  issues with Anderson  since he didn’t bother giving us anything other than a series of video game levels that make up 97 minutes of film. He’s not finished though as he leaves us with a cliffhanger ending that guarantees more of “more of the same”.  If this is “Afterlife” than I’d be better off dead. 

   

 

 Will I watch a fifth “Resident Evil” movie? I probably will and that is solely due to Milla Jovovich. No, I don’t have a crush on her but I do enjoy how she plays Alice with her piercing glares, acrobatic antics and resiliency. All while conveying the right amount of occasional emotion and humor to make this character human in a world where he is surrounded by horrifying creators and horrible characterizations. Even outside the role of Alice, I find myself checking in on Jovovich just to see what she brings to a film. Which means I will likely follow her and her husband as they remake “The Three Musketeers”.  

Other than Jovovich, there aren’t any actors here that make you stop and take notice. Anderson slows the camera thoughout, often  for an over-indulgent amount of stare-downs and mugging. It’s all failed attempts to build drama. But he can’t seem to show us any real threat from the enemy when Roberts plays Wexler like a muscled reboot of Hugo Weaving’s Mr. Anderson. It’s bad enough this is yet another film which copies the Matrix-style action but it’s downright sad to see such a cartoon characterization of a great villain.  

As mentioned, the viewing experience probably would benefit from an “IMAX  3D Experience” but mind you, that’s merely visuals which is only an aspect of film-making. No amount of whiz-bang technology can save a lazy script. Kind of ironic then that Anderson used Cameron’s “Avatar” cameras which serviced that lazy script. I hope that’s not a prerequisite for these cameras.  

   

   

 

   

  

  

 

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