US (dir. Paul W.S. Anderson)
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Spencer Locke, Boris Kodjoe, Wentworth Miller, Sienna Guillory, Kacey Barnfield, Norman Yeung, Fulvio Cecere, Ray Olubowale, Christopher Kano, Tatsuya Goke, Nobuya Shimamoto, Peter Kosaka, Denis Akiyama, Kenta Tomeoki, Shin Kawai, Mika Nakashima
Synopsis: In a world ravaged by a virus infection, turning its victims into the Undead, Alice continues on her journey to find survivors and lead them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new heights, but Alice gets some unexpected help from an old friend. A new lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead leads them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of Undead and Alice and her comrades are about to step into a deadly trap.
Review: Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Another “Resident Evil” film… when will this end?!?! That’s kind of what I said too; and hey, I imagine people said that about my beloved “Friday the 13th” films in the 1980s, but I still love every last one of them (okay, maybe not so much “Jason Takes Manhattan”, but I can learn to love it). After managing to resurrect the “Resident Evil” franchise after the abominable “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” with the somewhat promising “Resident Evil: Extinction”, I wasn’t terribly surprised that they went ahead and gave a fourth film a go. For a movie franchise built on a zombie video game, it is more than impressive that these films are still being made and are still drawing viewers. As a big fan of the first film, what excited me more than anything about this fourth installment was the fact that Paul W.S Anderson was involved. I was glad to see Anderson (Milla Jovovich’s better half) back in the director/writer’s chair, but suffice it to say that a mere 15 minutes into the film will leave you wondering what the hell happened to the guy who once directed “Event Horizon” and the first “Resident Evil”, because this hardly seems like it was helmed by the same man.
“Resident Evil: Afterlife” feels more like a fourth “Matrix” film than another installment of “Resident Evil”, which is disappointing because I wanted to see a “Resident Evil” film, not some second rate
ripoff of homage to “The Matrix”. There’s an introductory shootout that feels like a complete knockoff of that famous scene from “The Matrix” where Neo and Trinity break into that bank-like building and start doing crazy kicks and shooting guards and stuff, and a lot of the special effects (i.e. slow-motion bullet-time) are carbon copies of specific shooting scenes in “The Matrix” making virtually none of the action sequences in this fourth “Resident Evil” film feel remotely original or innovative.
In this installment, Alice finds herself without the powers she once had, proving that the Umbrella corporation, like God, both giveth and taketh away. The lack of powers hardly seems to matter however, as Alice fares just as well, if not better, without them. Basically it boils down to her having no telekinetic powers anymore, but her ability to perform crazy jumps and wicked awesome neck snaps and shooting stunts is hardly diminished. Alice, in search of her pals from the last film, heads to Alaska to look for Arcadia, the supposed refuge for what is left of humanity. Instead of finding Arcadia, she finds Claire with a massive metallic bug on her chest which, though it will never be explained at any point in the movie, is apparently responsible for giving her amnesia. What follows is Alice and Claire’s quest to find survivors, reach
Zion Arcadia, defeat the Umbrella corporation (or just give them a major ass-kicking as per usual), and live happily ever after until the Umbrella corporation develops some new mutant with like two heads and five rows of teeth or something… you know, the usual stuff evil pharmaceutical companies do during a pandemic. Instead of an epic quest filled with meaningful dialogue and some tongue-in-cheek humour, we just get a bunch of battle scenes loosely linked together, making the end result feel more like a montage of fight sequences than an actual movie. Anyone else feel like this franchise is taking the long road to nowhere?
Milla Jovovich, who looks as hot as hell in yet another one of these zombie ass-kicking films, seems downright bored beneath her serious, action movie-ready expression. Everyone else tries their very best to look engaged, but in the end it is Jovovich’s lackluster performance that knocks back any of the excitement one would feel from this film, making this easily one of the worst entries in the entire series in terms of performances and character development. Of course this is just meant to be popcorn ready, big screen entertainment, but without a story (hell even a goddamn plot would have been nice), interesting characters, or some well-timed comedy to break up the over-the-top action sequences, I just don’t feel like there is a point here.
The coolest thing about the movie, and one of the main selling points in my opinion, is the introduction of the massive executioner mutant. While his 10 minute-or-so fight scene versus Alice and Claire is pretty epic, it plays out in agonizingly slow slow-motion, making me conclude that if it had played out in real time, it would have lasted roughly 30 seconds of screen time. The other selling feature would of course be the 3D (“Afterlife” was filmed using James Cameron’s 3D camera system). Although I didn’t see it in 3D, the fact that it was actually filmed in real 3D, as opposed to that deplorable post-conversion 3D , earns great amounts of respect since it basically proves that the inclusion of the 3D was not some bullshit, money-grab afterthought.
Once a high point of the franchise, the musical score in this installment sounds lame and uninspired. The Renholder Apocalypse remix of A Perfect Circle’s “The Outsider” is looped far too often during the final fight scene, over-staying its welcome entirely. The rest of the film is devoid of the sharp, electronic industrial rock style soundtrack I fell in love with in the 2002 film (courtesy of Marilyn Manson and Marco Beltrami), instead we get an underdeveloped score courtesy of tomandandy who must have been too busy working on the sleep-inducing score for “And Soon the Darkness” to give a damn about a fourth film based on a video game franchise.
Of course, the film ends on a note that is suggestive of a sequel (yeah, a fifth “Resident Evil”!) using a barely recognizable Jill Valentine to set things in motion for entry number five. On the plus side, the film at least feels more video game-y than its predecessors, though everything else just feels phoned in. Would I go see a fifth “Resident Evil”? The chances are not very high. I truly stand by the first film since it pretty much has now become the best thing about the franchise despite numerous attempts by various directors (and even, as seen here, by the same director) to bring something new to the table. I’d honestly rather just watch the original over and over again than see another half-baked attempt at making a sequel.