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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day 123: Resident Evil: Afterlife

Resident Evil: Afterlife
But isn't regular life in 3D?

Resident Evil is officially a movie franchise. After scores of video games, shirts, toys, and even an animated movie, Resident Evil has moved past the originally planned trilogy and gone on to number four. Off the top of my head, I can't recall a fourth movie of a franchise being particularly good. Not Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Halloween, or Friday The 13th. Would this movie fair any better? I mean, it has zombies in it and zombies make everything better. Right?

Resident Evil: Afterlife once again stars Milla Jovovich (Fifth Element, Zoolander) as Alice, the superhero killing machine infected with the Umbrella Corporation's T-virus. Alice and her clones created from the previous movie Extinction infiltrate the underground base of Umbrella in Tokyo. Alice reaches Umbrella leader Albert Wesker on his helicopter, where Wesker injects her with a cure to the T-Virus, stripping her of her powers. The helicopter crashes, seemingly killing Wesker while Alice survives. Six months later, she heads to the supposed haven of Arcadia in Alaska. When she arrives, she is attacked by a mind-controlled Claire Redfield (Ali Larter, Legally Blonde, Final Destination). Alice removes the device controlling Claire and they both travel to Los Angeles where they see a group of survivors on the roof of a prison surrounded by zombies. They join the group of survivors and learn that Claire's brother, Chris (Wentworth Miller, Prison Break, Underworld) is actually being held captive in the basement. They learn that Arcadia is not a fixed location, but a cargo tanker floating around the West Coast. The zombies have evolved and are able to tunnel into the prison. There is also a giant super strong zombie carrying a huge ax pounding at the prison's gates. The group makes a break for the port in an effort to make it out to the Arcadia. One of the survivors steals Alice's plane, so they have to go by foot. Most of the survivors are killed while Alice and Claire fight off the ax-wielding monster. They make it out to Arcadia to find it completely abandoned, despite the computer saying there are over a thousand people on board. Is everything as it seems and did Wesker really die in that helicopter crash?

 These are my boom sticks

In terms of being a horror movie, Resident Evil: Afterlife may be the least horrory movie. That's not to say there aren't some good zombie scenes, some scares, and the general apocalyptic desperation that occurs in plenty of horror movies. I just feel like the focused more on sleek action scenes and check-this-out 3D shots. While watching this on a regular screen, every time there was a scene that was clearly shot for 3D purposes, I would shout “3D!” It's a visually stunning movie shot in High Definition with great production and editing with loads of superhero action. That's all great, it's just not heavy on the horror, which is where the video games and original movie started.

One problem I had with the movie was with the zombies themselves. They're faster and their faces open up like some sort of monstrous starfish. There's also the random giant monster with his giant ax. None of this is explained. Why are these zombies different and where did this big fuck come from? And where did he find the huge ax? Home Depot? It's like watching Silent Hill and never playing the video game. I wouldn't have known who Pyramid Head was if I hadn't looked him up. Milla Jovovich is great once again as Alice and Ali Larter does well reprising her role of Claire. Boris Kodjoe (Love & Basketball, Surrogates), who plays survivor Luther West, also does a fine job, especially knowing that he did his own stunts. Paul W.S. Anderson reprises his role as director, using his sharp eye for beautiful slow-motion action shots, but not much for atmospheric horror.

What an ax hole

Resident Evil: Afterlife is a fun action movie, but a disappointing horror movie. The acting is good and the action is fun. It is beautiful to look at and the soundtrack adds something extra to the scenes. If you have not played the video games, like myself, you'll miss references and may be a bit lost when it comes to the zombies changing. The movie is certainly entertaining, but its unfortunate to see it move away from horror so much. I'd recommend seeing the previous movies before watching this one as you will be lost and confused. Though not as good as previous installments, it's still worth watching if you're looking for a fun movie. After all, there's a new one coming out later this year.


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