Twitter Plot Summary: It’s more frankly ludicrous zombie action as Alice tries to find a safe haven and ends up squirreled away in a prison. For a bit.
Director: Paul WS Anderson
Key Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Wentworth Miller, Boris Kodjoe
Five Point Summary:
1. Eeeeeverythiiiiiing iiiiiisss iiiiinnn slllloooooow moooootionnnnn.
2. Las Plagas!
3. Paul WS Anderson still can’t write a proper ending.
4. The T-Virus is all seeing, all powerful.
5. Apparently we don’t need to know why the Axemen exist, or why they appear to have Captain Scarlet-esque invulnerability.
The main review below was originally posted on www.randomstoat.com on 16 September 2010.
This review is going to be chock full of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet you’d probably best leave reading this until you have.
So Paul WS Anderson has returned to the franchise… I had mixed feelings when I first read that he was directing the fourth entry. Each film has had its good and bad points that would take too long to go into here (maybe when I re-watch them at a later date), and this one is no different. Within the first ten minutes all of the story threads left hanging from Resident Evil Extinction are hurriedly brought to a close, with the exception of the Arcadia thread. The Alice clones are all wiped out, Alice herself has her super powers switched off by a completely different Albert Wesker (played very much in the style of Agent Smith from The Matrix), then it’s straight in with the action and the plot unfolds. As far as a Resident Evil movie plot can.
In summary, after her clones have wiped out the Tokyo base of Umbrella and Wesker has turned her powers off, Alice goes looking for the survivors from the end of Resident Evil Extinction, who travelled to Alaska to find Arcadia, a place where apparently there is no infection and is a safe haven. After rescuing Claire (she has a robot spider thing attached to her chest, very Los Ganados), they fly to Los Angeles where they land on top of a prison and meet another disparate bunch of survivors. They discover that Arcadia isn’t a town in Alaska but is a cargo ship, travelling up and down the coast. From there, after much arguing and face-hugger zombie attacks (if you’ve played Resident Evil 4 or 5, you’ll know the type of creature), they decide to escape via the storm drains and head towards the sea. Arcadia ends up being a trap set by Umbrella (surprise, surprise) and they have a final showdown with Wesker, who can now move in Bullet Time and has bad-ass powers thanks to the T-Virus running through his body.
The best aspect of the film has to be that there is a bad guy called Bennett. Sadly he doesn’t skulk around the building wearing a chainmail vest and caressing a knife, but he’s a thoroughly unpleasant chap. You can tell, because he dresses all in black. And he’s not very nice to other people. And he has a little Asian lackey as a sidekick. Another piece of casting genius (if that’s the right word for it) is the presence of Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield. This piece of casting will only mean something to fans of Prison Break, or people who are aware of Prison Break. We first meet him, funnily enough, locked up in a solitary cell in the basement of the prison. It must have taken them literally seconds to think about casting him, and probably the same amount of time for him to agree to it. And lo and behold, he plays it in the same one-note fashion as his Michael Schofield character in Prison Break. If Chris Redfield emoted a little bit more I might actually have given a damn about the character. As it stands, the only reason I knew he wasn’t going to be killed off is that he’s a named character from the games. Everyone else besides him, Alice and Claire are fair game for a grisly death, and this proves to be the case for just about everyone else involved.
The soundtrack is classic Anderson. Lots of synthy, John Carpenter-esque tones (especially when they approach the Arcadia), mixed with a dull rock score that is supposed to match the scene, but instead falls horribly flat. It serves its purpose to some degree, but most of the score fails to impress. Each musical cue sounded much like the last, except where they channelled John Carpenter’s The Thing. That bit wasn’t too bad…
The 3D wasn’t as forced as I was expecting, although there were a lot of “things flying at the audience” moments, as only the best worst 3D films attempt. Again, most of it didn’t feel too forced, particular stand-out moments include the fight between Claire Redfield and The Executioner (is the presence of this non-zombie, almost non-killable giant ever explained? Don’t be ridiculous). The various layers of water worked very nicely in 3D, but it would be a nice-looking sequence in standard 2D as well, although the whole fight is over way too quickly. Because the whole thing is done in slo-mo it probably counts as roughly fifteen seconds of real-time fighting. I was reminded time and again throughout the movie, every time there was a slo-mo sequence (and there’s a lot of them) of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, where their use of slo-mo in the fictitious series was because the scripts weren’t long enough. Afterlife doesn’t really need the slo-mo apart from showing off their lovely 3D sequences.
Despite the occasional great sequence or story element, this is still a perfect example of generic “PG-13” cinema. Normal zombies only rear their decaying, ugly heads for about five minutes, more of an afterthought to the great big unpleasant baddies that can be purloined from the games. It lurks somewhere between the utter trash that constitutes an Uwe Boll movie, and a George Romero zombie movie. If you’re a fan of Mr Anderson’s previous work or you’re willing to switch your brain off for a couple of hours and enjoy the ride, then you’ll love Resident Evil Afterlife. If not then I recommend a good book, or maybe even George Romero’s initial script pitch for the first Resident Evil film (you can find it online easily enough). Suffice to say this film is entirely derivative, and only worth your time if you’ve stuck with the series thus far. It might be bearable if The Merchant from Resi 4 makes an appearance, although I’m not too keen on them tarnishing his character in the movies. And in true Paul WS Anderson fashion, the movie ends on yet another cliffhanger. No surprise there. Luckily for us there will be another one in a couple of years. I wonder if that will actually have an ending… probably not.
Favourite scene: The opening sequence where an army of Alice clones takes out an Umbrella base. In 3D.
Quote: “Nice landing.” “I think technically it’s called crashing.”
Silly Moment: The shower room fight between Alice, Claire Redfield and an Axeman. It’s just an excuse to show off the 3D.