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Resident Evil: Afterlife

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Kim Coates, Boris Kodjoe

(US DVD: 28 Dec 2010)

Resident Evil: Afterlife isn’t very good.  Not that the previous three installments in the series are mind-blowing or anything, but this new chapter is definitely weakest, even though it’s by far the most popular. The whole thing is pretty forgettable.


The movie starts with Alice (Mila Jovovich) wreaking havoc on the underground Tokyo headquarters of the Umbrella Corporation. This is the vengeance she promised at the end of the last film. To be more precise, it’s a whole bunch of Alices in black spandex, with swords, hacking Japanese security guards to bits while things explode all over the place. Again, at the end of the last movie she found a bunch of Alice clones to use as her own private army. There are explosions, gunfire, slo-mo, and all the usual bells and whistles you’ve come to expect from a Resident Evil movie.


The real Alice blows up Umbrella HQ, and you jump ahead six months. Alice is flying around in a little World War II era plane, looking for her friends, one named K-Mart (again, from the previous film), in Alaska. Supposedly there is a city called Arcadia where there is no zombie plague and everything is all hunky-dory. However, when Alice arrives at the coordinates she finds the helicopter her friends took off in, but no sign of anyone.  Actually, that’s not true, she does find her BFF Claire (Ali Larter), but she’s been given some drug that makes her forget everything.  Disheartened, the two make their way down the west coast, looking for anyone left alive.


In LA a handful of stock movie survivors, including a big-strong-man to serve as a pseudo love interest for Alice (something that happens in all of the other films), are holed up in a prison, surrounded by legions of the undead. Somehow Alice is able to land the plane on the roof.  From there the story becomes generic and bland. They have to find a way to escape, and like any good zombie movie, the zombies aren’t the only monsters they have to worry about, and maybe not the worst. Who saw that coming?  Despite an inherent level of tension that comes from being both confined and surrounded, and some decent action scenes (including a nice tip of the cap to Die Hard), there is not a lot of story to be had, what plot is there, isn’t helped by a few groan-inducing coincidences.


The best part of the theatrical release was the 3D, when you could tell that director Paul W.S. Anderson was having a blast thinking of new things to throw at your face.  This is the type of movie that I usually enjoy in 3D, schlocky, fun horror where random things fly out of the screen for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, the DVD isn’t in 3D, and things that originally looked cool in 3D, like Alice sticking her shotgun through a curtain of falling water, wind up looking silly.


But even in 3D, the film left a lot to be desired. Roughly half of the movie is in slow motion, which ruins things suddenly shooting at you. It’s just not the same when the axe flying out of the screen is moving really, really slow. You know in cartoons when Bugs Bunny looks at his watch and taps his foot, waiting for something to happen? It’s like that if what Bugs was waiting for was some Matrix leftover bullet dodging.


Resident Evil: Afterlife is like MacGruber in that as soon as you turn it off it’s completely gone from you consciousness.  Not only is it unnecessary to ever think about again, it’s so innocuous that it’s actually difficult to even remember anything about the film at all.


The DVD comes with a decent enough collection of bonus features.  There are two behind the scenes featurettes, one that deals with casting the film, and another concerned with the action and stunts.  Anderson and producers Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer, provide a commentary track that winds up being interesting.  Afterlife was filmed in 3D, a first for Anderson, and, in addition to the usual information, he has a lot of to say about the process, including how you can’t use normal camera equipment that gets taken for granted, like Stedicams, because of the added weight of the 3D cameras.


In an obvious bid to hawk Blu-rays instead of DVDs, Sony is releasing Resident Evil: Afterlife in three different versions.  There is the DVD, 2D Blu-ray, and 3D Blu-ray.  Of course the Blu-ray versions come with exponentially more bonus material, five additional featurettes, eight deleted scenes, and of course, the 3D release comes in 3D, which is really all the film has going for it.

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Brent McKnight lives in Seattle, and is working feverishly to finish his degree in creative writing through the University of New Orleans Low-Residency MFA Program. His thesis is a post-apocalyptic, zombie, spaghetti western, much to the chagrin of most of his advisors. He likes dogs, beards, and Steven Seagal, and rants about movies at thelastthingisee.blogspot.com and BeyondHollywood.com. Recently he fulfilled a lifelong goal, appearing as an extra in a zombie movie.


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