Deliver us from clichés
Resident Evil: Afterlife
I had hopes for Resident Evil: Afterlife. I really did.
I experienced sporadic moments of enjoyment with its franchise’s predecessors and had read that this would be a “Real 3-D” experience. Producers always intended for us to be wearing the funny glasses while watching it, unlike 3-D conversions like Clash of the Titans.
But then the words “Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson” came up on the screen, reminding me that this no-talent was at the helm. Anderson is responsible for rancid goat spew like AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Mortal Kombat and I Shat On the Screen and Now You are Watching It! (I made that last one up, but you get the idea.) He also did Event Horizon and the first Resident Evil, so he’s technically not the worst director on the planet. He’s just one of them.
This is a zombie picture that deemphasizes the walking dead in favor of cardboard characters standing around having monotonous conversations about what they’re going to do next. And when they do something, they do it in frustrating slow motion.
The story picks up where the last one left off, with multiple Alice (Milla Jovovich) clones running around in tight outfits—this visual being one of the few good things about this movie. They’re attacking the Umbrella Corporation, going up against some bastard named Albert Wesker, played by the awful Shawn Roberts. He’s yet another film villain who copies Hugo Weaving in The Matrix.
Some nonsense goes down where Shawn injects Alice with something that makes her human again, yet she survives a nasty plane crash and continues to kick ass later in the movie. The idea of her being human and vulnerable again is never really explored, other than she gets knocked out for a few seconds during a brawl.
Alice travels north toward Arcadia, where survivors, a la I Am Legend, are supposedly offering shelter and food. She finds Resident Evil: Extinction’s Claire (Ali Larter) running around with a thingamajig on her chest, suffering from amnesia, but still incredibly hot. They decide to head for Los Angeles for whatever reason, where some Hollywood types are hiding in a skyscraper acting all Hollywoody.
The standout character in Los Angeles is the imprisoned Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), Claire’s long lost brother. (What a coincidence!) The survivors are keeping him confined in a see-through cell reminiscent of the one Hannibal Lecter occupied briefly at the end of The Silence of the Lambs. The thing that makes him a standout is that he talks exactly like the Old Spice guy. I was expecting him to yell out “I’m on a horse!” during one of the many gun battles.
Those slow-motion battles are awful, Matrix rip-offs where Anderson is clearly trying to show off the wonders of 3-D and failing miserably. They contain nothing powerful or visually creative—a murky underwater swimming scene is quite underwhelming—and many of the backdrops are computer cheese, so the movie just comes off as a cheap video game. I suppose that’s appropriate given the source material, but it still makes for boring stuff.
There are moments when Jovovich and Larter are battling together, and you realize this duo could’ve been something special if directed by somebody who knew what he was doing. Instead, Anderson just tells Larter to stick her chest out when firing her guns, and she isn’t afraid to show off her impressive yoga posture. She’s like, “Hey boys, get a load of these as I shred you with my guns. At least you’ll exit life with a big boner, huh?”
There’s going to be another sequel for sure, so let’s all join hands and pray that Anderson goes back to producing and gives directorial chores to somebody who can do it better than him. (A blind giraffe, perhaps?) Jovovich, and to a lesser extent, Larter, have decent screen presences. They just need a movie that has its own identity instead of ripping off every action film that’s scored big box office in the last 15 years.