Resident Evil: Afterlife
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Wentworth Miller Running Time: 1 hr, 37 min Rating: R Release Date: September 10, 2010
PLOT: We pick up where Resident Evil: Extinction left off - with the bad-ass Alice clones storming the Umbrella headquarters in Tokyo. Fast-forward six months, and the genuine Alice is on her way to Alaska to find the last, infection-free settlement of Arcadia. But there's a surprise waiting for her...
WHO'S IT FOR? GAMERS. If you're not familiar with the games and if you don't like movies based on video games and if you think gamers are lonely losers wasting their lives...go see something else. If you insist on seeing Resident Evil: Afterlife and you have no experience with the games, you won't know what you're talking about.
(Editor's Note: A movie should be able to stand alone as entertainment. I've let McLaughlin be passionate about this flick mainly because she's such a darn good writer. Plus, maybe she has a point for those who love the video games. For movie fans, Jeff Bayer reviewed Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D, and you can read that review by clicking here.)
EXPECTATIONS: I thought it was going to be an awful waste of money, because I foolishly listened to my non-gamer friends. It's like letting someone who hates Kung Fu movies talk me out of a Kung Fu movie because "there's so much darned fighting all the time."
Milla Jovovich as Alice: I love Alice; she's what Angelina should've been in the two tragically crappy Tomb Raider movies. She's lithe and tough and pretty. When she's in the scene, you know everything's going to be A-OK. Alice will protect everyone (or almost everyone; you still need the occasional zombie snack). And Jovovich is Alice, she morphs into Alice and she sells that part. And how cool is it that we get a repeating female protagonist from a video game-to-movie situation? It's a dream come true. Score: 9
Ali Larter as Claire: Claire is abruptly, and inexplicably, a much tougher chick than she was in Resident Evil: Extinction. Sure, she's been roughed up and brain washed and drugged, but it's not as convincing. We expect the aerial twists and flips from Alice; I'm not sure why Claire needed to be brought back. That being said, I will never complain about two, fabulous female characters who can handle themselves. It's Ellen Ripley reincarnated and that rocks. Score: 7
Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield: Miller is a good pick for Redfield, because he looks a lot like his character from Resident Evil 5 the game. He isn't necessary, because no one cares about the side characters. What it does, though, is send the gamers yet another love letter. "Dear wonderful, beautiful, intelligent gamers," that letter says, "we actually did play the games before we wrote the script. You're welcome." Score: 7
Shawn Roberts as Wesker: My main complaint with Wesker would be that he's like a slicker version of Mr. Smith from The Matrix, but that's exactly how he looks in Resident Evil 5. The director could've made the call to change his look for something more unique, but then he would have been digressing from the game. Instead, he chose to recreate the character as is and I respect that. And then you have Roberts, who has a blast being both evil and nearly indestructible, and it's the perfect mixin's for Big Explosive Zombie Fun. Score: 9
TALKING: Who cares? Not I! But in keeping with the format, I'm obligated to acknowledge that the script is merely blah. Everyone talks in an affected, tough, raspy voice and there are no really 'great' one liners. It's all very perfunctory, but seriously, you won't notice. You're not there for the dialogue. Score: 5
SIGHTS: Holy monkey balls, this movie looks amazing. Even the curmudgeons had to agree that this movie is just one giant wow after another. The opening sequence where rain is slowly falling around the mysterious woman in the crowd and the technology makes you feel like you must be taking illegal substances, because it is all way too crystal clear. Score: 10
SOUNDS: The soundtrack is kicking and the zombie gore is audible. That's all we want, right gamers? We want cool protagonists running through water in slow-mo to some amazing techno beat; and we want really gooey sounding zombie snacks. Crunch, crunch! Score: 9
BEST SCENE: The battle between Alice (Jovovich), Claire (Larter) and the giant zombie from hell. Supremely cool.
ENDING: It leaves it way open for the next installment, and I'm all for the next installment. I promise to be the one to review it.
QUESTIONS: Why did it take 6 months to get to Alaska? How did Claire clean up so quickly? Why am I even asking these questions when I don't care and they have zero impact on how much I enjoyed the movie? What's for dinner? Yes, there are questions.
REWATCHABILITY: Absolutely, yes. Now it's an imperative that I replay Resident Evil 5 so I can really appreciate how much justice the movie did the series.
I am very distressed that I passively let non-gamers with only a passing acquaintance with the Resident Evil games review Resident Evil: Afterlife. There's a reason Bayer sends me, the actual gamer, to video game based movies; it's so I can offer a perspective that's an accurate representation of the genre. Is the genre well-respected? Nah. Nor does it deserve to be in many respects, since Hollywood pumps out movies based on video games without putting any real effort into capturing the vividness of the original story.
Then along came Resident Evil. The first movie was inventive and fast and imminently watchable. The second movie failed to live up to the name, but it regained its footing in Resident Evil: Extinction. Now, with Resident Evil: Afterlife, the movie stays so faithful to the games, most especially Resident Evil 5, the series is only gaining ground and getting better.
Here is just a sampling of how the movie follows the fifth game in the series:
A) Chris Redfield (Miller) is the main playable character from Resident Evil 5 along with Sheva Alomar.
B) The giant, axe-wielding, bag-headed menace zombie is introduced in chapter 1-2 (Kijuju, Africa) of Resident Evil 5; yeah, that bad boy's straight out of the game.
C) Albert Wesker (Roberts) is the main villain from Resident Evil 5.
D) Resident Evil 5 is the first game in the series to introduce the zombies who's heads split in two, or who sprout toxic tentacles from their mouths.
Do I really have to say that I understand that this movie isn't going to sweep the Oscars? Because I'm getting tired of making that disclaimer. I am proud to be a gamer; I've been hooked ever since the first Mario Brothers for the original Nintendo, and there are scores of people who are way more old-school than me (ZX Spectrum, Atari, Commodore 64, etc). The only thing I'm looking for with this type of movie is fun and some semblance to the series its based on - Resident Evil: Afterlife more than delivers on both counts.
If you don't belong to our exclusive little club of millions upon millions of people around the world, then don't go see a movie made for us.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10