MRR Movie Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife


Movie Review: "Resident Evil: Afterlife"

-- Rating: R (violence and strong language)
Length: 97 minutes
Release Date: September 10, 2010
Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson
Genre: Horror, Action, and Adventure

"Resident Evil: Afterlife" is the fourth installment in the series of films based on the popular Capcom video games with characters created by Hiroyuki Kobayashi. It is one of the better video game movies, which is interesting because the plot is completely separated from any of the games. The only common elements are some supporting characters; even the heroine, Alice (Milla Jovovich), isn't derived from any character from the games. There's a lot of running and shooting, flying and shooting, diving and shooting, and just shooting in every manner that can be thought of.

Even so, this film succeeds in a capturing the atmosphere of the popular third-person shooter action game genre. Other popular examples of these games include Halo and Call of Duty. The settings are total playgrounds for unbelievable action sequences-almost bringing up reminders of the once-groundbreaking "The Matrix" The script is mainly merely a vehicle to move the characters forward from one action scene to another. The actual plot is simple. The Umbrella Corporation is still up to dastardly deeds, and Alice is trying her best to make life difficult for them. The ever present carnivorous zombie mutants are obstacles and Alice just want to not be their dinner. But along the way she encounters some T-virus survivors who are trying to escape to a safe haven from the virus, known as Arcadia. The film is a definite fit for its intended audience.

New characters from the game are introduced: one on the side of good and the others decidedly on the side of evil. The stoic Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) is an excellent addition to Miller's work. Fans of the game series will recognize the villainous Wesker (Shawn Roberts), who is considered a running joke among fans; a mastermind plotting to take over the world using fairly outrageous mean and who never seems to die. Roberts plays the outlandish villain so well, but the character has got to be a conglomeration of some other memorable film baddies such as "American Psycho's" Patrick Bateman, "The Matrix's" Agent Smith, and Goldmember from the Austin Power's spoof of the same name. In contrast, Resident Evil 5's creepy massive character The Executioner makes an appearance and is a serious counterbalance to the outrageous Wesker. He exudes a terrifying eeriness and alter-dimensional quality that rivals "Silent Hill's" Pyramid head character.

The film opens in Tokyo, as Alice penetrates an underground Umbrella Corporation facility. She runs into the superhuman head of the organization, Albert Wesker, and an epic fight commences; however, she escapes in a really crazy manner. From there she heads to Alaska-the one place left with no infection-hooks up with some old friends, and then goes back to Los Angeles to initiate a zombie hunting expedition unlike any previously seen. The survivors that she is with pretty much serve the function of a "Star Trek" redshirt; they die, but in horrible, gory ways.

Anyone can enjoy this movie, as by its nature it is accessible to those who may not be fans of the games. The best scene takes place during the middle of the film. Alice takes refuge in an old prison, and meets some survivors. The action actually feels like a fresh take on a Romero-type zombie classic, and is an excellent example of direction from Anderson. Anderson excels at set production design. His sets are real with actual explosion and gore effects, which places the actors into as close to actuality as possible. Many directors skimp on this aspect for practical or financial reasons, opting to add such elements in the post-production phase. So Anderson is to be celebrated for bringing this noticeable and impressive touch to audiences.

The zombies in the film are of the slow moving, shambling variety, and these obviously required a lot of time in make-up. This slow motion effect seems a bit dated in some ways, but the filming cinematography itself is top notch. Fans of techno music will appreciate the pulsing score composed by tomandandy. As far as kicking zombie flicks which serve to get the blood pumping and that offer plenty of eye candy, "Resident Evil: Afterlife" fits this bill. It's a film that will be enjoyed by those that view it with the notion that it is what it is. You can't turn round steak into filet mignon, but it can make a solid meal.

Rated 3 of 5 stars.