Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Resident Evil: Afterlife" (2010)

Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller
Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Rated R - Violence, gore, language
Running Time: 97 Minutes

Resident Evil: Afterlife [Blu-ray]Y'know, Paul Anderson's original "Mortal Kombat" film was dumb, goofy fun... pretty much what one would expect out of a film based on a videogame known more for its ridiculous gore and production design than it's gameplay mechanics.  But his forays into other properties like "Alien vs Predator" and the increasingly godawful "Resident Evil" series are just the flat out terrible moderately-budgeted features.

In the fourth installment of "Resident Evil," Alice (Milla Jovovich), armed with an army of clones of herself, assaults the underground headquarters of the Umbrella Corporation in Tokyo four years after the zombie apocalypse.  Unfortunately, their target, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), escapes and sets off an explosion that kills all the clones.  But the original Alice manages to escape, and thinks that she's killed Wesker in a plane crash after he injects her with something that supposedly removes her superhuman abilities.  She decides to head to the supposed safe zone of Arcadia, flying to a set of coordinates that only leads her to an airfield full of empty planes and a beach where she is attacked by her friend Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), who seems to be under some kind of mind control.

After breaking Claire out of the mind control, the two of them fly to Los Angeles where they see a sign calling for help on the top of a large prison complex.  They land their plane and meet several survivors, including a former NBA superstar Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), film producer Bennett (Kim Coates), aspiring actress Crystal (Kacey Barnfield), Angel (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), Wendell (Fulvio Cecere) and Claire's brother Chris (Wentworth Miller).  The prison is surrounded by hordes of the undead, and Alice's plane only holds two.  Chris suggests the group use a military armored transport locked up in the prison's garage, and the group begins to make preparations to leave and head for Arcadia - which they now know is a ship just off the coast. 

Unfortunately, the undead manage to finally break into the prison.  To make matters worse, the engine has been removed from the transport, and the prison's armory on the lower levels have been flooded.  And because that's not enough, there's some kind of bizarre, huge, unkillable creature trying to break down the prison gates with a massive ax/hammer thing.  Don't know what that's about.

Anyhow, this movie friggin' sucks.  You'll note in the trailer above that the advertising campaign wanted to make a big deal about how "Resident Evil: Afterlife" was shot with the same 3D camera system as James Cameron's mega-hit "Avatar."  Unlike "Avatar," however, even in 2D it's obvious that "Afterlife" is shot with the worst kind of 3D gimmicks in mind instead of creating a believable, enveloping world.  But these gimmicks look cheap and unconvincing.  Worse, most of the movie's effects look cheap and unconvincing.  Lame effects coupled with a script that seems to make almost no sense whatsoever damn "Afterlife."  Without a coherent story to populate with its one-note characters, the bizarre string of cheap, uninteresting action sequences falls limp. 

I've seen the first three "Resident Evil" films, and I still don't even know what's going on in this universe.  Four years after the zombocalypse, and Umbrella still seems to have unlimited technological and personnel resources.  It has a veritable army of soldiers stationed across the world, massive, high-tech underground facilities and fleets of aircraft with lots and lots of fuel, weaponry and ammunition.  Don't ask me what the point of this movie is, because I'm pretty sure there isn't one.  There's no such thing as character development here, since none of the characters are any different at the end than they were at the beginning... unless they're dead, I suppose.  And there aren't even too many of those.  "Afterlife" has a curiously small bodycount, Umbrella soldiers aside.

The Alice character continues to be totally pointless, even though the entire franchise revolves around her.  After the opening sequence, she actually thanks Wesker for removing her superpowers and making her human again... but throughout the rest of the film she performs a number of superhuman actions.  The film doesn't bother to explain the mind control devices that are apparently controlling Claire Redfield and Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), or the Executioner character, or the weird four-way tongues of the zombies, or, well, anything that happens.  

This movie flat-out makes no sense.  Bad special effects, terrible acting, dialogue that's worse than simplistic ... "Resident Evil: Afterlife" sucks, which says a lot considering the entire franchise sucks.  I watched this one via Netflix's Watch Instantly, which means that I didn't specifically pay just to watch this... and I still feel like I wasted my time and my money.