Beware of flying brains
Babes, 3-D and zombie slaughter are an awesome blend
So we’ve got this Second (third, fourth …) Coming of the 3-D phenomenon. Whee! Over the past 60-some years Hollywood has repeatedly tried to shove the technology down our throats, and it’s usually been good for a few movies and is then discarded by the public like a shiny toy gone dull. But this time, it looks like it’ll be around for a while. Especially since the suits have realized that the toy-happy 21st-century public doesn’t appear to have any problem forking out double the admission for the joy of looking up at a movie though a 100-foot View-Master … yet.
If that’s your bag, Paul W.S. Anderson’s return to the Resident Evil franchise with its first 3-D installment is cause for excitement. With Afterlife, Anderson has delivered what is most likely the best use of James Cameron’s PACE Fusion system of the technology. Anderson seems to have taken to it with a keen eye for milking its potential. Which means that since it’s in 3-D, you can see what’s being thrown at you. Damn near every shot is carefully framed to take advantage of the technology, with plenty of slo-mo to savor the experience. Hell, even Cameron didn’t dig that much shiny-toy fun out of Avatar.
As far as the narrative … Well, for the haters who said that none of the previous RE entries hewed close enough to the video-game ethos, Afterlife is pretty much just a video game with the characters taking on the bosses and leveling up from the last film. If you haven’t seen Resident Evil: Extinction, you’re not gonna have even the slightest idea what the hell is going on in the opening reels.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) is back as our guide down the zombie-infested rabbit hole of the Umbrella Corporation, which, due to a miscalculation on the company’s part, is the whole of Earth. So Alice is looking for survivors to act as zombie bait as she steps front and center to go all Matrix-y on some undead ass. She finds a handful in the smoking ruins of Los Angeles hiding out in an urban prison complex, an island in a sea of zombie Angelenos pawing at the gates.
So it’s just enough plot to string the badassery together, but it looks good. Real good. Anderson maintains a kinetic energy to the action and delivers some beautifully structured set pieces. There are more than a few moments that are fantastically realized, including a zombie lemmings bit that’s just breathtaking.
That said—not enough zombie action. And the Canadian dude who plays Wesker (Shawn Roberts) is the most embarrassing villain I’ve seen in ages, affecting the faux-badass growl of a wannabe Agent Smith in some high school production of The Matrix, he just comes across like a pussy trying to play tiger. Although I’ve been told that the character in the video game is just as annoying, so maybe it’s just Anderson being true to the source material.