Resident Evil: Afterlife – In 3D
October 4, 2010
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) – In 3D – Review by Isaac
“My name is Alice. I worked for the Umbrella Corporation. Five years ago, the T-Virus escaped, and everybody died. Trouble was… they didn’t stay dead.”
Will you enjoy Resident Evil: Afterlife in 3D? – That depends. How do you feel about character development? What about intentional dialog? Or realistic fight scenes? And what about physics, are you really set on that? Because if you expect any of the above, you probably won’t dig what Afterlife has to offer.
Here’s what Resident Evil: Afterlife is about:
Oh, and sometimes Ali Larter.
But seriously, despite hating the first three Resident Evil films (read my article,) I really enjoyed Afterlife. Perhaps I gave up on the idea that these will be good movies and just enjoyed the slow-motion in 3D. Which is why Paul W.S. Anderson is able to succeed on the big screen: it’s all about the 3D glasses. They won’t make poorly written characters and storyline three dimensional, but all the shooting in slow motion is really cool. My movie-going buddy commented that this was his best 3D experience (winning out over Avatar and Clash of the Titans). The presence of 3D sews together the mismatch pieces of this ‘style-over-substance’ action flick.
Plot Synopsis: Genetically enhanced Alice leads her army of clones to destroy Umbrella’s headquarters in Tokyo. The mission is successful but Alice barely escapes, injected with a T-virus antidote. Alone and powerless, Alice joins a group of survivors who must escape to Arcadia, the mysterious safe-haven free of infection.
It’s good to see a franchise start getting things right. The film opens with an incredibly juvenile, Matrix inspired, over-the-top action scene featuring Alice’s clone army assaulting a secret Umbrella base. We’re treated to Alice tearing through hordes of SWAT teams with every cliché in the book. The base is destroyed, along with her clones, and Alice loses her superpowers. This explosive move wraps up the silliness created by the second and third RE films, making Alice a normal human being again. Now that she’s powerless, Alice becomes likeable again. There’s a welcome return of danger and risk throughout the film.
Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson’s second great move is using some source material. I bet he played Resident Evil 5 and thought “woah! I’d better make another movie!” The zombies (inexplicably) have mutated into the “Los Plagas” infected types featured in Resident Evil 4 and 5. The Executioner makes an appearance and his fight is one of the film’s highlights. Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) is introduced as the main villain, a point I was initially excited about because Wesker is one of my favorite villains ever, but his treatment here is weak. They actually copy an entire fight-scene from Resident Evil 5 move by move, (I guess if it ain’t broke, why fix it?) The end result is uninspired. There’s a common thread among zombie-plots, especially Resident Evil, that the initial developer/spreader of the zombie virus is more evil and depraved than the flesh-eating zombies themselves. Afterlife decides to make this dichotomy literal, depicting Wesker as a cannibal who must eat living flesh in order to control his powers. And of course, he has to ingest Alice to survive (geez, talk about Mary-Sue tropes!)
When Alice searches for Arcadia, she encounters a group of survivors holding up in a prison (The Walking Dead, anyone?) The cast is paper-thin for the most part; even famous videogame character Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) has little plot exposition. (Perhaps a bit of fan-service here, introducing Prison Break’s main character in a prison cell?) In fact, a number of glaring questions surrounding Chris and Claire Redfield’s characters are never answered before the credits roll.
I love character development in horror movies. More specifically, I love their attempts at character development. A single statement like “I was on the High School swim team” not only caps their character depth, but justifies their ability to navigate a flooded, zombie infested barracks with nothing more than a flashlight. Afterlife is par for the course here, featuring raspy voices and dual wielding pistols for all the “cool” characters and thin, red-shirt stereotypes making up the supporting cast. I wish I was kidding about the raspy voices. I was beginning to wonder if lead actress Milla Jovovich had a serious throat infection all through the filming of Afterlife. Her speech was really low and raspy, like halfway between chain-smoker and Christian Bale’s Batman voice. The introduction of Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and Chris Redfield (Miller) revealed that either A: the raspy voice technique was supposed to make the main characters edgy and ‘badass’, or B: the throat infection had spread throughout the leads. Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter did their best to counteract this illness with thick eyeliner and lipstick (which is apparently abundant in the post-apocalypse) but it didn’t help much. But at least Alice stayed properly clothed this time!
I haven’t decided if Paul W.S. Anderson is incapable of writing a good ending, or if he has some sort of psychotic condition that forces him to write only cliffhangers. Afterlife sets itself up for a sequel trilogy in one of the most contrived ways possible. But considering how much I enjoyed this installment, I’m ready to see what he comes up with next.