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Film Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife

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Trina Demario
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« on: November 06, 2010, 05:52:05 pm »

Film Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife


By Preston Wilder Published on October 31, 2010



Many will dismiss Resident Evil: Afterlife, and that’s fair enough. It’s the fourth instalment in a franchise that was always more a series of buzzwords – zombies, the Umbrella Corporation, Milla Jovovich – than a coherent story anyway. Besides, it’s based on a videogame. Yet the film is worth seeing – or at least skimming on DVD – for its utter disregard of consistency, structure and all the things we associate with ‘good’ filmmaking. In what may (or may not) be a Sign of the Times, it deals entirely in sensation – all the more because it’s made in 3D, a gimmick that adds nothing but makes everything look even cooler.

We open on a beautiful image: a pattern of blinking lights, seen from the sky. It could be a distant constellation – but in fact it’s a city, specifically Tokyo. As we get closer, the neon-lit streets are full of people; it’s raining hard, the raindrops glistening in slow motion – and, to the ear-bashing march of a thumping drum-beat (the music is by trendy-sounding duo ‘tomandandy’), the camera slo-o-owly pans up a young woman’s legs, finally revealing the woman herself. She looks pale and drawn. A harried Japanese salaryman walks towards her – and she suddenly attacks him, sinking her teeth into his flesh. The camera moves up and away, encompassing the street, the city lights, then Japan itself as a black veil spreads over the world – the veil of infection, people turned into flesh-eating zombies.

That prologue is a kind of prequel, the woman whose legs we just ogled being presumably Patient Zero in the zombie epidemic. It didn’t need to be there, of course, since Afterlife is the fourth instalment so Resident Evil fans know all about the back-story, but the whole scene is irresistibly cool and of course that’s the point. Afterlife is a very fetishised film, lingering over its visuals. Paul W.S. Anderson (who also directed the first RE) loves slow-motion, and even resuscitates the frozen-in-space effect – so-called ‘bullet time’ – from The Matrix. He also builds the film as a series of frenzied action scenes, interspersed with 3D larks like metal spikes thrown at the camera.

Plot doesn’t really come into it, ditto plausibility. Alice (that’s Milla), our mutant heroine, is first seen attacking the headquarters of the Umbrella Corporation – helped by her many clones – before being snookered by her nemesis, evil CEO Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). He jabs her with a serum that takes away her superpowers and makes her human again – and you may wonder why he doesn’t just kill her, but it’s better not to wonder. Then he takes off in his plane, “purging the facility” behind him. “Purging” involves blowing up the entire Death Star-like headquarters – his staff, his equipment, everything – in a single ginormous explosion. This may seem like a wasteful business strategy, especially in the middle of a recession, but the words ‘ginormous explosion’ are catnip to a film like Afterlife.

Alas, Wesker flies his plane into a mountain, with Alice (who snuck away before the explosion) also on board. Fortunately, she escapes the plane crash – and we get a quick shot of her coughing madly, her face blackened with soot, because that’s what you do when you’re walking away from a plane crash. She then flies to Alaska, where she runs into Claire (Ali Larter), her old friend from Resident Evil: Extinction – but Claire has amnesia, and doesn’t remember her. Amazingly, Claire’s amnesia turns out to be completely irrelevant. You keep thinking something will happen – that maybe she’ll regain her memory just in time to supply some vital clue – but no. The only practical consequence of her memory loss is that she doesn’t recognise her brother Chris later in the movie, but nothing much comes of that either. Chris, incidentally, is first seen in prison, saying “I’m not a prisoner! I don’t belong here!”, which is funny because Chris is played by Wentworth Miller, the guy from Prison Break – albeit not as funny as the part where evil Wesker says he’d like to eat Alice so he can ingest her DNA and Ms. Jovovich, doing her best action-heroine snarl, replies: “There’s just one problem. I’m not on the menu.”

Easy to laugh at Resident Evil: Afterlife – but the film is ahead of you, because it’s just not bothered. Anderson’s interests lie elsewhere, in the action scenes and snazzy visuals. Alice landing her small plane on the roof of a skyscraper (where a group of survivors are besieged by zombies) makes a thrilling little sequence. Later, when the roof is overrun with the living dead, Alice goes right to the edge and jumps off, zombies tumbling after her like lemmings – and the low-angle shot that results, Alice falling in the foreground while her pursuers form a fan-like pattern in the background, is really very striking.

Like its evil Corporation, Resident Evil has become an umbrella, allowing directors to try whatever works for them without being hamstrung by plot or plausibility. Why do the zombies have tentacles? (Why not?) Why, in a world full of zombies, is Umbrella keeping 2000 survivors on hand to perform “experiments”? It doesn’t matter. Afterlife doesn’t just set up its inevitable sequel – it ends with that sequel already underway, cutting to credits in the middle of yet another action scene. In Resident Evil, endings are beginnings and beginnings endings. Maybe they should just change the title to ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

http://www.cyprus-mail.com/film-review-resident-evil-afterlife/film-review-resident-evil-afterlife/20101031
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2010, 05:52:43 pm »

kyriakos comments:

I disagree with the last paragraph. Anyone who played the games would know why the zombies have tentacles, where the zombies come from etc. They are not explicitly explained in the movies but resident evil is more than just a few movies that happened at random, there's novels, comics and of course the video games who explain the plot.

It was generally an enjoyable movie, better than the previous instalment and in contrast to the likes of Clash of The Titans and Last Airbender was not a sad excuse to make people more for 3D cause Afterlife was actually shot in 3D the same way as Avatar.
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