Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Producer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Series: 4th Installment (Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction)
Release Date: September 10, 2010
Runtime: 100 Minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, and Sergio Peris-Mencheta.
Synopsis (Product Description):
It’s been five years since the zombie virus swept across the globe, and Alice is still traveling tirelessly in search of survivors. When the Umbrella Corporation ratchets up the stakes, an old friend turns up to lend Alice a helping hand. Rumor has it that some survivors have found sanctuary in Los Angeles, but when Alice and friends show up they find the city overrun with zombies, and quickly realize they’ve stumbled into a diabolical trap.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is the fourth installment in the franchise based on the incredibly successful Capcom video game series. Afterlife is also riding the 3D movie trend that, for good or ill, has taken firm hold of Hollywood. Using the same Fusion 3D techniques from the film Avatar, Afterlife looks great and is filled with stunts and action set pieces, with the story taking a back seat to the action. The story, such as it is, suffers a bit because of the waters having been muddied over the course of the first 3 films and several video games. I’m familiar with the video game source material and the prior films, and have a difficult time explaining the plot without the aid of Wikipedia or IMDB. Reviewing the film is difficult because any serious attempt to analyze its story makes it apparent that there isn’t much of a story to review. Nonetheless, Resident Evil: Afterlife is a fun action movie set in the increasingly popular zombie apocalypse. Manage your expectations and you’ll find that there is much fun to be had, but don’t go looking for the next 28 Days Later or The Descent.
By way of background, Resident Evil is a re-imagining of George A. Romero style of zombie movies, with a liberal dose of late 20th and early 21st century angst added to the mix in the form of an omnipresent, and apparently omnipotent corporation called Umbrella. Umbrella seems to have more resources than Apple, Microsoft and Black Water put together. It dabbles in everything, including biological weapons. In 2002’s Resident Evil, one of those bio-weapons, the T-Virus escaped into one of Umbrella’s massive research facilities, turning all its personnel into zombies. Despite her best efforts, our hero, Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, is unable to stop the release of the virus, and over the course of the next two films, Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction, the T-Virus went world-wide. Afterlife picks up very soon after the events of 2007’s Resident Evil: Extinction, and Alice, or to be more precise, several Alice’s, have taken the fight to Umbrella Corporation, which inexplicably, has survived the world-wide zombie outbreak. Governments have fallen, and small pockets of survivors struggle against the zombie hordes, but the evil of Umbrella is eternal.
Now, Resident Evil: Afterlife has been savaged by mainstream film critics, with a 38 on metacritic.com. And, if judged solely on its story, a mash up of Japanese video game and anime clichés and American action movie making, Afterlife earns its mainstream film critic scorn. Still I couldn’t help but enjoy it as a great action movie held down by a B-move plot. Afterlife shines when Alice and her ragtag band of survivors are shooting their way out of zombie infested LA prison. It falters when it makes feeble attempts at characterization, or exposition. Long lost siblings, amnesiac secondary characters, unexplained giants, supposedly normal human beings able to perform super heroic feats of strength and agility, and paper thin villains capable of predicting everything, except the most obvious things abound in Afterlife. There doesn’t seem to be a motivating force behind any of Umbrella’s actions. Is it trying to run the world? Newsflash, Umbrella, you’re the only entity left standing. All the Governments are gone, and you’re the only thing left with any serious technology or the ability to field any sort of military force. But, this is kinda the problem with reviewing a film like Resident Evil: Afterlife. My pondering the motivation of a fictitious corporation’s efforts to control a runaway zombie virus is reminiscent of critics who called the movie Blade to the carpet for being unrealistic. Well, duh! It’s Resident Evil folks. It’s just not the kinda movie that stands up to serious film critique. What it is though, is dumb, end of summer movie season fun. Heavy on action, and very weak on story. I had plenty of fun watching it, but upon reflection, I have to admit that the story is kinda dumb.
That’s one way of saying that Resident Evil is a fun, but dumb action franchise designed primarily to deliver a sequel every few years so long as each film returns a high enough profit. The stunts are great and the action scenes are really helped out by excellent use of 3D effects. If you want a smart zombie film, then I recommend Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and Zombie Land. If you want a great action focused zombie movie that showcases the newest in 3D tech, see Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D.
FTC Advisory: I purchased my own tickets.
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