Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Sienna Guillory, Boris Kodjoe
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Writer(s): Paul W. S. Anderson
Cinematography: Glen Macpherson
Original Score: Tomandandy
Running Time: 97 mins.
Resident Evil: Afterlife (can anyone tell the films apart?), is the fourth entry in the cash-cow franchise and the second Paul W.S. Anderson has directed following dropping back from only scripting and producing credits on parts 2 and 3, presumably the draw was simply the (much vaunted in the trailers) possibility of being the first film to follow Avatar in using the Cameron-Pace 3D camera, in other words this is the second full Real-D 3D film using the technologies Cameron himself claims were designed to give a film depth, ironically depth is something Resident Evil: Afterlife has no sign of in any shape or form.
Like a child with a new toy Anderson wields James Cameron’s 3D camera as a child would wield a gun, erratically and undisciplined, (which could for the sake of brevity describe the film as a whole), there is no denying some of the effects are well rendered in three dimensions but it is fast approaching the stage now where 3D gimmicks of blades, guns, bullets and blood flying at you out of the screen is becoming rather tired especially when the whole point of Cameron’s cameras was to stop the gimmick and focus on the so-called depth, clearly Anderson neglected to take heed of this as 3D or no 3D his settings are flat and lifeless.
Picking up from where the last episode left off two of the fundamental “plot developments” are written off in an extended and largely pointless action scene set in yet another faceless underground facility, so all the clone Alice’s are disposed of and the actual Alice is relieved of her previously gained super-human powers taking us right back to the start effectively, this in itself is not a bad thing but considering Anderson continues to basically retell the first film again and makes all the same mistakes you wonder why he bothered returning to direct, oh yes, to use the cameras!
The worst thing about Resident Evil: Afterlife, as with all the films, is that they neglect anything that made the games the success that they were, of the four film entries none have managed to be scary, thrilling or represent the characters of the games in such a way that they become either likeable or iconic, in fact quite the opposite, the lucky ones are forgettable (Chris and Claire Redfield, Miller and Larter) while Jovovich is dependably awful delivering lines that are robotic at best making her the single most dull and un-enigmatic heroine.
What should redeem a film based on a franchise famed for its zombies of all shapes and sizes is the realisation of said zombies, alas they prove totally lacking in threat en masse while the “bosses” pinched from the array of games which all have a different setting feel completely out-of-place in the futuristic world the films have been set within, only a fight in a shower block resonates mildly but come the inevitable death scene I had spent more time wondering why a character from a small gothic village setting had been placed in a futuristic prison complex, baffling and a damn waste!
Some may say that Resi films are all about the action, and for those who like endless post-Matrix slo-mo that seemed old 5 years ago you may find something to enjoy, anyone else will likely gasp a couple of times at the opening sequence (actually well directed and reminds you that Anderson is capable of good work, Event Horizon for one) then spend the next 90 mins checking their watch, this is surely a real problem when so many gimmicks are unable to hold your attention against the rehashed plot and just plain dull cast.
Unsurprisingly Resident Evil: Afterlife is, well, erratic and undisciplined, once again eschewing anything that made the game franchise good in favour of endless slo-mo…except this time it’s in 3D, presenting further proof, if it were needed, that an artist cannot blame his tools…