Everyone put on your tough guy (or girl) voices, because you’re going to need them for this one. Resident Evil: Afterlife, is the latest film from Paul W.S. Anderson, and folks, it’s far from even resembling anything you can call his greatest. Maybe I was fooling myself by hoping that the “Event Horizon” Anderson would come to the party, but sadly we’re stuck with cliché after cliché, hit and miss effects work, terrible dialogue and much more, all in 3-D.
We pick up with Alice (Milla Jovovich); filling us in on what the evil boys and girls at the Umbrella Corporation have been up to since the T-Virus was released turning those infected into brain eating zombies. Six months after she attempts to bring Umbrella down, she finds a group of survivors trying to signal a ship in the water that promises rescue, but find they unable to contact the crew. Alice and who new friends must now find a way to escape the prison they’ve barricaded themselves in that’s surrounded by thousands of zombies, and one very mean behemoth with an axe, in order to get to safety.
I cannot say that I hated everything that the film had to offer. However, none of the good aspects are enough of a wow factor to recommend it to anyone, even people you hate and want to suffer through bad cinema. The 3-D is much better than I originally expected, and far better than anything the post converted movies ever had to offer. Although, as the film goes on you’ll probably get tired of guns pointing at your face and bullets flying in slow motion towards you. There were certain times that the effects were actually pretty cool to look at, then shockingly bad in others (i.e. any appearance of a zombie whose mouth splits into four pieces and shrieks). The introduction of the zombies with the splitting faces was one aspect that I felt gave the film a little boost as far as scares went, and the giant axe guy I believe to be called, the Executioner, had potential to elevate the films fun factor even further but is ultimately wasted. Finally, the brisk pace keeps things moving so at least I wasn’t looking at my watch wondering when I was going to be rescued by the credits.
Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, but seems to just be flying on autopilot, as there’s almost no life in her character. The same goes for Ali Larter reprising her role as Claire. There are glimpses where the girls actually look like they are having fun, but they’re brief glimpses. Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield and Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker seem to have fully embraced the cheesy action movie persona here though. Both characters throw on the best hard knocks raspy tough guy voice they can muster and chew their way through the scenes. I think I knew what I was in for as that first scene unfolded with Wesker ordering his minions around demanding damage reports. Wentworth Miller isn’t out there reading Shakespeare to the masses either, he never wastes an opportunity to work in a scene capping one liner. The rest of the rag tag gang of survivors are about as cliché as they come, we got the dirtbag Hollywood producer and his Asian intern, the cute innocent aspiring actress, the suave hot shot athlete who’s there to take care of business and the tough but likable military dude.
Bad acting, cliché characters, and cheesy dialogue I can usually overlook when it comes to brainless action movies, as long as the film is consistently entertaining. While I found myself entertained, I began feeling like it was all for the wrong reasons. I’m entertained by the idea that one guy can leap on the back of an airplane leaning off the ledge of a building and set it back up to stop it from falling, but I’m entertained because of how absurdly funny and implausible it is. I’m entertained by the sight of a character carrying a torch around in the daytime, but only because it makes me laugh at how it doesn’t make sense. Mistakes like these are what pass for entertainment in Afterlife, and I’d be surprised if at the end of the day you can call that true entertainment.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is bound and determined to make sure you know what it’s like to have a gun pointed at your face in 3-D. You will likely be sick of it by the time the credits hit the screen actually. It also utilizes some of the worst slow motion bullet time sequences ever. We’ve seen it done in “The Matrix,” but here they think they are reinventing the wheel by doing it in 3-D, but alas, audiences should just be clamoring for them to do a post 3-D conversion to “The Matrix,” rather than having to endure it here. It’s also no shy of trying to show what brains look like flying at your face either. Despite my complaints about the climactic standoff, the 3-D is not detrimental to the rest of the film.
To send this review off with one final gripe is the overuse of slow motion and industrial music. It seems like every single action sequence turns into slow motion in order to call attention to a 3-D effect in motion. If they’d cut out some of the slow motion and satellite overlooking its locked target scenes the movie could have easily been maybe 15 or more minutes shorter. With the music used and the slow motion (especially in the Executioner fight scene) the majority of the film feels like watching an industrial music video, and just gives the film an overall feeling of being outdated.
Resident Evil: Afterlife has all the cheese and attitude to be a brainless action movie, and the Hollywood gloss to fit in on the big screen, but it winds up being nothing more than a disappointing mess that would have been better suited as a late night Sci-Fi channel special. You are bound to find bits and pieces of serviceable enjoyment, but nothing that you’re going to remember in the morning.