Resident Evil: Afterlife
Much like the walking dead who shuffle about the streets during the course of the film, Resident Evil: Afterlife is a plodding, dull, and pointless movie that exists solely to bilk more money from those who saw the last three films, and played the video games they're loosely based on. It's a tired entry of an equally tired film franchise that didn't have much inspiration to start with.
To call it a cinematic dead zone would be putting it lightly. There is no wit, no imagination, no style, and not even any creativity when it comes to its over the top graphic violence. After watching Machete last weekend, and seeing its hero rip out a villain's intestines and use it as a rope to escape from a building, watching Resident Evil's heroine Alice (once again played by Milla Jovovich) slice a mutant dog in two just doesn't seem all that exciting. A good example of how creatively bankrupt this movie is can be found right near the beginning. If you'll recall at the end of the last movie (Spoiler alert!), Alice came upon a room full of clones of herself, and decided to use them in her fight against the evil Umbrella Corporation, which through their unethical experiments, has turned most of the world's population into flesh-eating zombies and mutants. The film opens with Alice and her army of clones sneaking into and ambushing an Umbrella compound in Tokyo.
This could, and should be, a very fun sequence, but instead it's mindless. It's another one of those action sequences where hundreds of rounds of ammo are fired, but no one gets shot unless the script requires them to. The bad guys all have terrible aim, unless the camera is ready for a close up of one of the Alice clones getting shot. The movie is making a hopeless attempt to fool us into thinking the real Alice has been killed, but of course, she hasn't. She sneaks on board a plane that the head of Umbrella, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), is using to escape. Just like in the last movie, Albert is almost always seen wearing sunglasses, even if he's in a top secret underground bunker. I guess this is supposed to make him look badass, but actually makes him look ridiculous. So, Alice sneaks aboard the plane, and raises her gun to shoot the villain. He hasn't even noticed her yet. Does she shoot, though? No! She walks up behind him, says a one liner alerting him to her presence, and just stands there, giving him amble time to inject her with a serum that robs her of all her superhuman abilities she's been using to fight during the past few films.
Alice survives the encounter, and now travels the world, looking for fellow survivors. She soon finds one of her former allies, Claire (Ali Larter), who has lost her memory thanks to a strange device the Umbrella corporation placed on her. The movie does not go into great lengths to describe just what this device is. In one of the film's funnier moments, when we first see Claire, she's covered with filth and hair over her face, but a quick scene change later, and she suddenly looks like she just came out of a day spa. It's a credit to the women in this movie that they can trudge through sewers, zombie-infested streets, smelly tunnels, and corridors lined with blood, and still come out looking like they're ready to grace a magazine cover. Alice and Claire come across a group of survivors holed up in an abandoned prison. The survivors are a generic lot. There's the slimy backstabber (Kim Coates), the tough but kind-hearted black guy (Boris Kodjoe), the nice girl (Kacey Barnfield), the timid and cowardly guy (Norman Yeung), and a shady guy who nobody trusts at first, but may have their key for survival (Wentworth Miller).
You can pretty much pick out who's going to live and die almost as soon as they walk on the screen, and the problem is that Afterlife spends too much time introducing us to these characters, while giving them nothing to do. A large chunk of the film is devoted to the characters standing around in a prison, deciding what their next move should be. When the action finally does pick back up again, it's hampered by director Paul W.S. Anderson's (who directed the original Resident Evil) decision to shoot the movie in 3D. Which means, we get non-stop gimmicky shots of things flying at the camera over and over. Broken glass, throwing stars, knives, mutant dogs, bullets...Pretty much, if it can be picked up and thrown, Anderson tosses it in our faces.
Adding further insult to the 3D (and the movie itself) is that most of the film takes place at night or in dark corridors, making the movie look especially muddy and murky through the glasses you have to wear. It's about this time I realized I was watching a total cash grab. The movie exists simply because the past films had big opening weekends. And since this is the only movie getting a wide release this weekend, it's sure to have a big opening, guaranteeing we get another movie that the ending hints at. Personally, I think the well has run dry on Resident Evil. The zombies are boring and are hardly used at all, the characters are shallow, and the action seems to be ripped almost entirely out of The Matrix. Is there anything in this movie that's worthwhile? Not really, no.
See the movie times in your area, or buy the DVD at Amazon.com!