Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Sienna Guillory, Boris Kodjoe, Shawn Roberts, Spencer Locke, Wentworth Miller
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson,
Welcome back to your Umbrella Corporation sponsored undead post-apocalyptic futurescape! Our super-charged ninjette Alice will be your tour guide. Everything is pretty much the way you left it three years ago … except the trees grew back. Otherwise, you’ll find fires burning out of control, the dead walking the streets and Umbrella executive Albert Wesker (Roberts) being ridiculously evil for no apparent reason. They tell us they are kidnapping what few humans are left and experimenting on them to produce new horrors daily to harness the true power behind the T-Virus … but what for? Who will enjoy this power when EVERYONE IS DEAD??!! The head … it aches.
Milla returns as Alice, that female warrior woman who loves to run up walls and tear through the Umbrella staff with any weapon she can get her hands on. We kick things off with Alice making good on her promise from the last installment with her army of clone Alices running alongside her in an opening scene that will have the creators of The Matrix calling their lawyers. Excessive use of slow motion action, a bit of old school bullet time blended with that pretty 3D and some fairly horrible wire fighting set the tone for a dismal, one-note film. I hate putting spoilers into reviews, but I feel I need to mention this one bit. If you were seeing this film on the strength of the cool factor involved with an army of Millas, this gimmick is short-lived, just like Alice’s inexplicable super powers. This doesn’t stop her from kung fu-ing it up, flipping through the air and blasting creatures in the face with a never-ending supply of firearms. If there were this many bullets readily available in the game, I may have played it more often!
Alice heads off to meet up with the survivors of the last film, including the spunky K-Mart (Locke), whose name makes me want to stab myself in the head to rid myself of the knowledge of it. Unfortunately, all she finds is an empty island and Claire (Larter), who has gone rabid. Since we’ve obviously got some time to kill before the movie gods steer Alice toward the rest of the “plot”, you get to watch Alice deliver her own “Captain’s Log” far too many times. Eventually we get back to the mainland, where Alice meets up with Chris Redfield (Miller) and a handful of survivors fending off the undead inside of an abandoned jail.
Walking Dead much? Now it is a race against time to find a way past the legions of snapping corpses and onward to salvation. It’s the thinnest of plots with more holes than a graveyard and dialogue that, at times, makes the snappy banter in the last Twilight movie seem downright thoughtful. It is pointless to mention anyone’s acting ability when the words they are speaking are so horrid. It comes off like a spoof on the actual film they are in. However, I will take a moment to mention the enjoyment I garnered from Wentworth Miller’s perpetual scowl, Ali Larter’s steely death gaze and Kim Coates giving life to the most annoying, ineffectual third tier character ever slapped onto a horror movie script.
Cinematography is the minor saving grace of Afterlife, providing some beautiful imagery to a story that doesn’t deserve it. Gasp at the clarity of a two-passenger prop plane gliding serenely through the Alaskan skies in a somewhat 3D-ish manor. Ahhh … it’s like a giant View-Master reel from a nature show or, to be more specific, a selection of visuals you don’t need in a film called Resident Evil. You’ll get many a moment to live the 3D as weapons and shrapnel fly at you with underwhelming speed. Remember that slow motion? You’re soaking in it. That is to say, it’s constant and irritating … and never-ending. I reminds me of a line from a show called “Garth Merenghi’s Dark Places” where they remarked they’d consider any scene without talking for slowmo to stretch the length of each episode. COMEDY!! Suffice to say, you won’t find yourself ducking for cover due to mind-blowing 3D effects.
The creatures of Afterlife may be the only thing to make it worth a viewing on some Saturday afternoon when the film gets its DVD release. While they aren’t the most original creations, they serve to distract from the boredom of what lies in-between the subpar action scenes. These monsters pop up with little explanation and disappear just as quickly. The greatest battle of the film sees Alice and Claire taking on the colossal, hulking “Axeman”, aka the Executioner from the Resident Evil 5 video game, serving only to kill time and enhance the action quota. Why has this beast come? What is his agenda? Where the hell do you get a hammer/axe that huge??!! If there were ever any answers to these questions, they lie on a cutting room floor somewhere with dusty intern footprints all over them.
None of these revelations should shock anyone who has been watching the Resident Evil series. Since the second installment, we’ve been fed a parade of action sequences in locations reminiscent of the video game landscape, sometimes driven by a character with a name from said games but serving no purpose to any larger storyline. It’s a mess. It’s action for the sake of action with the fun sucked out of it. At this point my only hope is that this movie fails miserably, forcing its creators to take stock of their lives and abandon the Resident Evil franchise forever, leaving the license ripe for a reboot. No matter how soulless the films, the video games still provide excellent storylines, monsters and creeps that excite horror fans with each release. I pray, one day, someone will do them justice.
1 1/2 out of 5
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