Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Resident Evil: Afterlife, the 4th film in the franchise, written and directed by the original’s Paul W.S. Anderson, is the best entry in the series yet.
It takes up exactly where Extinction left off, with Alice and her clones going after the Umbrella Corporation, while Claire Redfield, K-Mart, and the rest of the survivors fly off in search of the infection free zone and safe haven, Acadia. It opens with quite a striking scene taking place 4 years prior, with the camera panning up the body of a beautiful Japanese woman, while she stands in the rain in the middle of a crowded sidewalk; suddenly, she attacks the nearest passerby. In slow motion, all the lights on the Earth shut off, and then the movie begins. After the opening titles fly overhead, we come to Umbrella headquarters, Tokyo. The Alice clone army lays siege to the underground complex, quickly and efficiently eliminating all of the corporation’s soldiers in a hail of bullets and sword blades; again all in slow motion. The head of Umbrella, Wesker, is a slippery one however, and escapes in an impressively designed V-TOL aircraft. Alice, the real Alice, makes sure she’s on board when he does. He quickly turns the table on her though, and stabs her in the neck with a syringe, containing a serum that eliminates the T-Virus, taking away all of Alice’s superpowers. This should be a good thing for the fans, who have been complaining about them for the past several years. The aircraft crashes into a mountain during the tussle, and Alice and Wesker go their separate ways.
A few months later Alice finds an airplane, which is not so miraculous considering she survived a crash into a mountain, and the subsequent massive explosion without a scratch, and is now in search of Acadia herself. Consider the next 15 minutes or so an interlude, as we are treated to some very nice shots of the Alaskan wilderness, as the plane flies over it. She soon finds a field with a lot of empty airplanes and helicopters, where she is attacked by Claire. She quickly disarms her and removes the device that is injecting her with a fluid, turning her into a Haitian like zombie; she is wild, incoherent and has no memory. Without finding anyone else, into the plane they go and off to L.A. Claire soon recovers as they fly over the dilapidated Hollywood sign, where they discover another small band of survivors on the roof of a prison. Making a rooftop landing that even Maverick and Snake Plissken would be proud of, we are introduced to the rest of the cast. Only one of them being of any kind of importance; the others serve their purpose well enough. This is where Claire finds out that Acadia is not a town in Alaska, but a cargo ship anchored just off shore. So now, they must find a way to get there, and because the plane only holds two people, that’s out of the question.
They soon find out that they are not even safe within the seemingly impenetrable concrete walls of the prison. Just as how George A. Romero’s zombies in Land of the Dead, figured out how to walk under water, Anderson’s ones figure out how to dig tunnels underground. Not even the basement is safe from modern zombies. At this point, the action ensues with zombies climbing under the walls, and a giant hooded monster with an enormous axe, pounding down the front gate where thousands more wait to bust in. Though Alice has been stripped of her super abilities, she can still do some pretty extraordinary things. Like for example, jumping off the Nakatomi Plaza sized prison roof, in her best John McClane impersonation; only replacing the explosion with hordes of zombies tumbling after her as she lands on her feet, shooting them in the head as she hits the ground running. I think inserting the line “Yippie Ki-Yay Motherfucker”, would have been a nice touch. I know how painful it is to go more than 5 minutes without something blowing up for the average moviegoer, and while this film has a good amount of nicely choreographed fighting and action sequences, there are moments when the characters just talk. That was okay with me, and while the dialogue isn’t exactly Shakespeare, it’s not as annoyingly awful as it is in the previous R.E movies. I felt the story moved along quite well, and I did not want to check my watch or go for a smoke break.
Several of the ideas in Afterlife, such as the aforementioned giant axe wielding monster, and zombies with tentacles coming out of their mouths, are taken right out of Resident Evil 5. Are there plot holes and gaps in logic? Is it over-the-top and ridiculous at times? Yes, but isn’t that what we expected? Have you played the games? I think that if these movies had been played straight, they would have stopped being Resident Evil and become just another zombie film. Aren’t there enough of those already, what with The Walking Dead hitting TV in just under 2 months? I like these movies because they are fun, and I like the games because they are fun. I don’t expect any more out of them, and frankly, I don’t expect any kind of high art to ever come from a video game adaptation; not that video games aren’t art, mind you.
If I’m expected to pay more for a ticket because of the 3D effects, then I’m going to be critical of them, and I think we all should be. I was heavily disappointed with the post-conversion 3D effects of the Piranha remake, and this feature was filmed in the technology, using James Cameron’s cameras, and supposedly his crew. The whole movie benefited from it, and there were occasions when I really felt that this is going to be good for cinema. Everyone probably has their own ideas about what makes for good 3D. What I don’t particularly like, and didn’t like in the 80’s either, is when objects kind of hang in space for an extended period of time, like an eyeball, while people ooh and ahh about it. What I prefer is the more subtle approach, which gives the film more depth without being blatant and intrusive. For instance in Afterlife, with the scenes of the airplane flying with the clouds in 3D, and the burning cityscape, were all impressive. Is the 3D here mind blowing? No, but I don’t expect to have my mind blown by it for at least 5 years. What I hope to see are incremental improvements until then. Like it or not, 3D is not going to go away this time, and I just want it to be used in an artistic way, and not just as a gimmick. Resident Evil: Afterlife is easy on the eyes that way.
Afterlife is an enjoyable time at the movies, and a good 3D experience. I know that’s not saying much, but it is the best Resident Evil film so far, and I really hope they have plans to make a 5th installment; I really want to see how Claire and company get out of the situation, which they find themselves in the final moments. Its not a classic, but its solid and worthy of your time.
Robert A. Newberry
©2010 Cinematic Horror Archive, Dave J. Wilson – All work is the property of the credited author(s) and may not be reprinted or reproduced elsewhere without permission.