Resident Evil: Afterlife – Review

Reviews, Theatrical Reviews, Top Story

Milla Jovovich is ready to kick ass once more in what I’ve aptly named Resident Evil: Prison Break

When you reach the fourth installment of an action/sci-fi/horror series you’re in no way, shape or form trying to appease the critics, or even truly attempting to pull in a new audience, as it’s your core group of followers that have gotten the series this far that will help it move forward. Be that as it may, Resident Evil: Afterlife adds a few minor elements to it that may help someone new to the story catch up without seeing the previous films; however, I’d highly recommended that if you haven’t seen them that you do so before seeing Afterlife, as it really does just pick up where the last one left off and even with the small additions, newcomers will likely be lost before the fifteen-minute mark.

Having recently watched the first three films again, I was surprised to see just how much I enjoyed the mindless action turn that the films took after the first installment. Instead of survival horror, much like the video game series, the series transformed into over-the-top action, with lots of slow motion fight scenes, and crazy explosions. The foundation of the games to film has remained the same, with a handful of people rebelling against the evil Umbrella Corporation, a pharmaceutical company that really works in military bio-weapons, and has created the T-Virus, a contagion that reanimates dead cells and ended up creating a living dead scenario. From there, the films have created their own story, paying homage to the various games throughout the various films in ways that fans should easily recognize. In the films, the containment of the T-Virus outbreak was a failure, and the world has become a post-apocalyptic dead zone, or should I say, undead zone.

The fourth film picks up roughly a year and a half after the third film, with Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her clones breaking into the underground Umbrella headquarters in Tokyo. It is here that Alice has tracked the supposed leader of Umbrella, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), and hopes to bring him and Umbrella down once and for all. While things don’t go exactly as planned, Alice believes she’s done what she set out to do, and takes it upon herself to fly out to Alaska to rejoin her friends, the survivors from Resident Evil: Extinction, who were heading to a place thought to be free of the infection.

Of course, it’d be quite a short movie if she rejoined her friends and all was well and good only twenty minutes into the film, so instead, she arrives only to find their helicopter abandoned, before being attacked by a mind-controlled former ally Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). Once she slaps some sense into Claire, the two embark on a mission to find out what happened to the survivors that leads them to a prison in Los Angeles, where new allies are to be found, and a new threat looms.

The good news for fans of the series is that this film keeps the story coming just the way you’ve come to expect. There are tons of zombies, a bunch of new baddies, including the Axeman from the recent Resident Evil 5 video game, and some flat-out awesome action sequences. Jovovich and Larter are both amazing heroines, as Jovovich continues to own the lead role of Alice, and Larter gets a fantastic solo battle scene all to herself that really ups her bad-ass persona.

Another great addition to the cast is Wentworth Miller, who plays Chris Redfield, another key character from the Resident Evil franchise making his big-screen debut. Coincidentally, and quite humorous to those who know Miller from his previous work in the television show Prison Break, he once again finds himself locked up in prison and once again is the only one who knows how to break out. His work is solid and his character comes off as the tough, confident guy he should be; though much like Ripley and Hicks in Aliens, Chris plays second fiddle to the two femme fatales.

There’s a lot to enjoy from this installment of the series, and a lot of the credit has to go to writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson. Anderson has written all four of the films, though this is his first time back in the director’s chair since the original. He’s in love with stop-action, slow motion shots, but they’ve become such a key part of the action scenes in the series that he actually pulls it off quite well. With action being the top seller for these films, it must be said that the battle scenes shot in this film are really well done, and each main character has at least one memorable fight throughout, which was really nice to see.

Now, what about the 3D? Afterlife uses the same 3D technology that James Cameron used in Avatar, though it isn’t as mind-blowing. The world isn’t as vibrant or alive as Cameron’s world was, but we’re not here to compare the two, we’re here to talk about Afterlife, so let’s focus on that.

The 3D used in Afterlife works well most of the time, but there are a lot of moments where it’s just too dark to be able to focus well enough in 3D. Using 3D already makes your film lose some of its colour, so when you add a lot of dark, eerie sequences to that, it really can make it hard to see at times. It’s when the action is bright and moving that 3D really comes to life. There are some really great uses of it, just from a fun action standpoint, so would I recommend it if you have the choice? Sure, check it out in 3D, as it’s one of the few films that was actually created that way instead of changed to make a quick buck. The good news is, you can tell just by the visuals, that the film will look just as good in 2D as well, so if you aren’t a fan of 3D, you can still enjoy it fully regardless.

Resident Evil: Afterlife should have no problem continuing the trend of its predecessors, and spark the fall box-office with no other competition to battle against it. This is good news for fans, as a fifth installment is already said to be in the pipeline, which shouldn’t be a surprise, as the Resident Evil series can easily be compared to a book, with each film acting as a chapter of an ongoing story. If that’s the case, then Afterlife would be chapter four, and it’s one hell of a fun, action-packed ride that proves this series is anything but dead.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Notable Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller
Writer(s): Paul W.S. Anderson

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.