STARRING: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim
Coates, Shawn Roberts, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Spencer Locke, Boris Kodjoe,
2010, 90 Minutes, Directed by:
Paul W.S. Anderson
this point, I feel pretty darn guilty for ever thinking the original 2002
Resident Evil installment was any type of mindless
fun . . .
Two sequels sufficiently bled
the premise dry, taking off into their own witless directions, with the last
picture, 2007’s Extinction at least finding
some environmental invention to play around with. Hoping the war was over,
Resident Evil: Afterlife has arrived to recharge the franchise, with Paul
W.S. Anderson returning as director and the whole shebang captured with 3D
cameras to bring the adventures of Alice into your lap. It’s a polished effort,
but astoundingly joyless and deathly dull, which seems par for the course when
it comes to the Resident Evil movies.
Freed from her superhuman
prison by the evil Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), Alice (Milla Jovovich) has
returned to humanity, or at least what’s left of it.
Out to find Claire (Ali Larter)
and those she left behind in Las Vegas, Alice senses hope in a safe haven
rumored to house the survivors of the T-virus outbreak. Taking to the air, Alice
flies her way to the ruins of Los Angeles, touching down on top of an abandoned
prison complex, where a few humans remain, unable to escape due to the nearby
With Luther (Boris Kodjoe), a
basketball player; Bennett (Kim Coates, doing his best Saul Rubinek impression),
a sleazy Hollywood producer; and Chris (Wentworth Miller), Claire’s soldier
brother, by her side, Alice plans an escape from the prison, hoping to land on a
nearby supertanker, home to possible freedom. However, Wesker and the Umbrella
Corporation have other plans for their prize.
Anderson was truly pulling
ideas out from his rear end with the first Resident Evil, trudging
through the challenge of adapting a video game to the best of his ability,
embracing the shock value of a few of the more vivid enemies out to gobble up
Alice. With the novelty now gone, Anderson looks to the miracle touch of 3D to
revive the series, scripting a journey for our heroes that returns the action
indoors, to best exploit not only the new visual dimension, but to recreate the
claustrophobic feel of the original feature film.
"Four films in, and I still don’t have a clue what’s going on. I
sincerely doubt the director does either!"
The only true upside to
Afterlife is the 3D cinematography, which is crisp and clear, embracing the
fact that it was, in fact, captured with actual James Cameron-smooched hardware,
and not some post-converted rush job to compete in the marketplace. Anderson is
clearly charged up by the dimensional possibilities (and an opportunity to
pilfer from The Matrix), staging a series of action
sequences that drip with bullet-time staging, slowing down the mayhem to study
every last grimace, flip, and weapon discharge in magnificent detail.
It’s very striking, but
resembles more of a 3D demo reel than purposeful brutality, making the film feel
more at home on a Best Buy sales floor than a multiplex. Anderson tosses body
parts and coins (Alice likes to load her shotgun with quarters) toward the
camera, and holds a real fascination with big empty spaces, but it never gels
together as a rousing event. It’s merely cheap theatrics at times -- I’m
surprised Alice never picks up a paddle ball to extinguish the zombies.
Visuals are pretty much all
there is to the Afterlife experience, which features Anderson’s most
inane scripting to date. Never mind the fact that nothing of note actually
happens in the film (this includes the reintroduction of Wesker, who’s nothing
more than a drab Aryan irritant), but Afterlife doesn’t even try to stay
compelling, or coherent for that matter - a fact underlined in a mid-movie
battle between Claire and a hulking, hooded monster carrying around a massive
hammer. Who or what is this unstoppable beast is never addressed, with the giant
only introduced to show off another round of special effects and 3D showmanship.
It’s not as if this film is
teeming with accomplished actors.
The least Anderson could do is
keep the energy up and the violence flowing. Instead, the picture drags along
the ground with worthless exposition or staring contests between the stars,
hoping the awe of 3D will be enough to pass for a good time. Considering it’s
his own mythology Afterlife is working from, one would think Anderson
would have the hang of this franchise by now. Instead, he’s still sketching some
type of epic outline of corporate evildoing and apocalyptic panic. Four films
in, and I still don’t have a clue what’s going on. I sincerely doubt Anderson
Perhaps the first 3D motion
picture to simulate the experience of watching paint dry, Resident Evil:
Afterlife is a dreadful bore that only occasionally comes to life. Even
then, it’s still a tedious mess of half-realized ideas, guided by a filmmaker
who really shouldn’t be allowed to make movies in the first place.
- Brian Orndorf