Sunday, January 30, 2011

Horror Film Review

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010):  My son and I watched this last night.  We both made the mistake of harboring high expectations.  I know, I know.  Why aren't I practicing what I preach?  Well, I think this trespass can be forgiven due to the fact that the man who directed it (Paul W.S. Anderson) directed the first Resident Evil, which I liked, as well as Death Race, which I loved.  Either way, my theory regarding popular horror movies sucking is alive and well.  Damn it. 

At the end of the last film, Extinction (the one in Vegas), Alice sent her friends (Claire, Kmart, etc.) away on a chopper to find Arcadia, an infection-free zone where safety and comfort awaited.  Alice stayed behind to kick some Umbrella Corporation butt.  Afterlife begins in an Umbrella hive that Alice and her merry band of clones is assaulting.  This entire opening sequence is a complete rip-off of The Matrix.  There are sunglasses, black outfits, and so much slow motion I wanted to scream at the screen.  The bad guy manages to inject her with some stuff that takes away her enhanced abilities.  This is so out of left field it had to be a last minute screenplay rewrite.  Next thing we know, Alice is flying an ancient two-seater plane to Alaska.  All she finds is a field full of other planes, a helicopter, and a wigged out Claire who's got some kind of big metal spider-thing attached to her chest.  She gets better but has amnesia.  She and Alice fly down the west coast looking for other not undead folks and eventually find a handful in Los Angeles who have holed up in a maximum security prison.  And finally, finally we see some zombies.  Hundreds of thousands of the moaning mothers swarming around the gates trying to get in.  This is where I got excited.  Surely we would be in for some marvelous zombie carnage, right?

At this point, the film becomes Dawn of the Dead.  There's a jerk (movie producer) and his Asian intern, a famous sports star, an actress, an army dude who happens to be Claire's brother, and a few others not worth mentioning.  We then learn there's a huge tanker anchored offshore named Arcadia that had been broadcasting a very familiar safety and comfort message.  The escape plan involves driving a 16-wheeled army personnel carrier through the zombie horde...after they raid a secret army weapons armory in the basement. all goes tits up when the zombies tunnel in through the sub-basement.  So no wild ride with guns blazing.  Instead there's a few skirmishes and the survivors slink to safety through the sewer system.  Needless to say, we felt cheated. 

That's it for zombies and on we go to the Arcadia ship which of course is an Umbrella research facility experimenting on the non-infected.  The action there is again Matrix-inspired, slow motion stupidity.  And the tradition of leaving you hanging at the end hasn't changed.  Alice has freed all the imprisoned folks, the bad guy's dead (finally), and then we see scores of Umbrella attack choppers converging on the Arcadia.  Screen goes black and credits roll. 

So many things went wrong with Afterlife, I don't know where to start.  Aside from the distracting slow motion, which I'm assuming had something to do with the 3-D marketing ploy, the new characters aren't developed enough to matter.  For example, we're expected to assume the producer's a jerk just because he's a producer and that the famous sports hero is a good guy because he's a famous sports hero.  It's ironic to find so many one-dimensional characters in a three-dimensional film.  And perhaps the most head-scratching thing of all is the executioner.  Alice and Claire battle a massive, 12-foot tall dude wearing a black hood and wielding a maul the size of a lamp post.  Is it a zombie?  Is it an Umbrella-created monster?  We never find out.  Everyone keeps saying, "What is that thing?"  The least the filmmakers could have done was give us a clue.  Worst of all, the executioner fight  Aaargh!

Let's just get to The Breakdown.  I could bitch about this movie all day.

Acting:  Milla Jovovich as Alice just seems bored.  Ali Larter as Claire is much more interesting to watch, channeling a bit of Jessica from Heroes.  There's no bad acting, per se.  Just nothing to write home about. 
Story:  Ah, what could have been.  Anderson, who also wrote Afterlife, couldn't seem to come up with an original idea.  It's a mish-mash of Dawn of the Dead and The Matrix
Direction:  Ssssssloooooow.  See my complaints outlined above. I don't say this often, but this film should have been longer.  His ideas needed more fleshing out. 
Production Values:  As high as high can be.  Anderson did have some money to play with, that's for sure. 
Gore/FX:  Not enough blood.  The gore is CGI and pretty silly.  There are a few cool shots, though.  The  nuke detonating in the beginning is nice, and I did love the shots of the zombie horde. 
Ending:  Typical Resident Evil cliffhanger, although this is the first time I don't care if I see what happens next.
Verdict:  Should you watch it?  Only if you're a rabid Resident Evil fan.  Otherwise, I can't recommend it.

My Rating:  2 out of 5

I should mention that along with Afterlife, I also received Despicable Me in the mail from Netflix.  It's hilarious and a near-perfect film.  This one I do recommend.  Whole-heartedly.

1 comment:

  1. The Resident Evil movies are great in my opinion; I love how the whole series ties in together. I am happy to see that Resident Evil: Afterlife is available in DISH Network's new website as free content. As a DISH customer/employee, it’s easy to get tired of TV. DISH Online is a great to help mix things up when they start to get dull. You can check out the thousands of show and movies titles at