Resident Evil Afterlife
Some films are popular enough to warrant a sequel. Others go on to become a trilogy and still fewer make it to become a full fledged franchise. One film that really continues to surprise me is ‘The Resident Evil’ saga. The initial outing was a fun flick purposely left open ended enough to spawn a sequel. The second movie lived up to expectations and the third seemed suitably constructed to be worthwhile. I felt it provided the right degree of closure to let matters rest. I suppose the movies brought in sufficient revenue that the studio keeps giving the green light for yet another installment. Possible one justification is the increasing demand for films presented in the new 3D technology that has migrated out of the theaters gaining a foothold in the home entertainment market. From this set of circumstances and the subsequent decisions gave rise to the making of episode four: ‘Resident evil Afterlife’. Back in the days of the old school cellophane glasses the third flick would occasionally be made in three dimensions but now all the studios are scrambling to hop on this wagon. The aspect of this series that would normally work against this level of success is ‘Resident Evil’ began its run as a video game. In most cases a video game is good for one or two flicks but this one appears able to maintain a degree of freshness and keep going on. Of course the 3D enhancement was able to reignite a spark. Although this flick barely squeaked by to recoup the $60 million budget and this was the least accepted by fans and critics there is some whispers of going on to number five but that would truly surprise me. In trying to consider this movie on its it must be noted that the story is superfluous so the best that can be said is it does make a reasonably good beer and pizza flick if you are able to lower your expectations to the point that you just want some lively and imaginative special effects including what seems like thousands of rounds of ammunition and something blowing up on a fairly regular schedule.
There is at least one factor that has worked in favor of this franchise and that is the consistency behind the scenes. Paul W.S. Anderson. He created the series and those installments that he did not contribute to as writer/director he served as producer. For this flick Anderson returned to both writing the screenplay and helming the movie. In any franchise creative continuity does go a long way to providing the cohesion required by the often obsessive fan; just the type that can usually be found holding as game controller. It also should be noted that the protagonist, Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, who continues to defy aging as she continues to fight for survival and to bring down the diabolical ‘Umbrella Corporation. This may seem like a evbit of a spoiler alert but the downside of this franchise and particularly this installment is that the script is gossamer thin. Considering the origins of the story was with a video game there is less need for a fully developed story or multidimensional characters that usual. You most probably will never over hear comments anticipating a story point resolution from people queued at the theater showing a flick like this.
Poor Alice has been through an awful lot in the last few years. A simple case of industrial espionage has gone from bad to unimaginably worse when a top secret weaponized virus escapes the confines of the laboratory creating a plague of the undead on the earth. First it affected the Hive, the highly covet research and development location for the morally compromised Umbrella corporation. From there the invading zombies easily took over nearby Raccoon City until it became s horde threatening the entire world. At least the film makers don’t make you sit around waiting for the action. The flick begins with Tokyo falls to the zombie throng. Alice appears as flexible and beautiful as ever; her sleek form wielding a pair of swords cutting through the lumbering foe with élan. The apocalypse may be here but her pouty lips perfectly sporting perfectly applied lip gloss. In an attempt to provide some dialogue that is beyond grunts and screams they introduce anther beautiful woman; Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) she has amnesia but can somehow pick up survivors from a roof top using a small plane Long time fans of the franchise will recognize the lack of memory is a reused plot device originally driving the back-story of Alice as a sizable portion of previous films focused on the etiology of the condition and eventual resolution. This is a popular device in soap operas but is over used in this context. The stunts are skewed to enhance the 3D effects and translate to extremely artificial looking when viewed in good old fashion 2D. The technology is rapidly progressing but there is still a need for the film makers to gain experience in seamlessly integrating 3D seamlessly in the movie instead of coming across as a novelty. There is nothing wrong with this usage at this point; the same learning curve was necessary after the introduction of color and prior to that, sound. Even so the 3D effects are very well done and once the format has stabilized on the home theater front this movie will be a contender for preferred showcase movie to demonstrate your system.
The flick gets to the special effects overlooked so far including a giant zombie executioner appearing next to old standbys suck as a pack of zombie dogs and mind control devices. After seven years five films and what seems like endless video games this carcass has pretty much been picked to the bone. In fact it looks like a turkey the day after Thanksgiving. Hopefully Mr. Anderson will move on to fresher pastures.