Resident Evil : Afterlife (2010)
Resident Evil: Afterlife is incredibly dumb. Director Paul W.S. Anderson has taken a greatly loved franchise and spent eight years slowly twisting its head around, laughing like a lunatic as we all pay money to see the gradual destruction of something we love. Resident Evil: Afterlife finally wrenches its head off… then takes a squat over its neck and empties its bladder down the blow-hole. If you ever loved the Resident Evil games, or even the first film, please don’t watch this. I beg you. It will hurt your calm.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is almost so idiotic it feels like a Wayans Brothers parody. It’s exciting, yes, and full of colour and things to look at, but beyond the explosions and bullets and glass – IN MIND-BLOWINGLY POINTLESS 3D! – it’s an incredibly ugly, soulless production with no humour or charm. The acting is hammier than Malcolm McDowell hiding in a pig and the script is as sharp as a rusty butter knife. The special effects are decent enough and they have attempted, badly, to recreate elements of the game, but it’s a travesty of a thing – like a moron explosion on an atomic scale.
This may sound unfair, but it really is total cack. Okay, does this surprise anyone? Did Resident Evil: Afterlife even have a single hope of being a decent film? Probably not. Being furtherly mis-managed by the creators of the previous three crap-tastic video game adaptations, this latest installment is written AND directed by the cheese-meister that is Paul W.S. Anderson. Anderson had given directing duties to Alexander Witt and Russell Mulcahy for Resident Evil 2 and 3 respectively, so you can perhaps blame them for those fecal-bombs, yet both directors had to deal with Andersons’ script and his producer influences. Is Anderson soully to blame? No, but he’s at least 80% responsible for it.
Fans of the computer games will be even more disappointed as the fourth Resident Evil film veers a thousand more paces away from the mythos of the much-loved Capcom games. Although Anderson adds the parasite-infected split-mouthed zombies and massive axe-wielding giant from Resident Evil 4 and 5, they’re chucked in randomly and without explanation, as if appeasing to fans desperate cries of “stick to the games, for gawd’s sake!” without really caring for continuity or context. Luckily the dialogue emulates the first ever Resident Evil game – it’s functional, jarring, awkward and can only be delivered with confused arm movements and a look of wide-eyed bafflement.
Most insultingly, however, is how Anderson treats the zombies. The undead get brutally kicked to the sidelines, becoming a silly nuisance rather than the overwhelmingly terrifying threat they always were. The real antagonists of Resident Evil: Afterlife are the employees of the shady Umbrella Corporation. “Shady” because these personality-less scientists seem to insist on wearing sunglasses indoors. Hundreds of metres underground. Already flagging themselves as ridiculous douchebags, they also sit around on massive thrones in white rooms with evil zombie guard dogs. The corporation is a cliché, and their employees all either absolutely demonic or faceless fodder. It’s yawn-worthy and sacrilegious to Capcom’s baby.
So what’s the plot of Resident Evil: Afterlife? Well, luckily you don’t need to have watched any of its predecessors. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is a cloning experiment of the Umbrella Corporation, who has gone a bit AWOL and righteous in her old age. Umbrella are responsible for accidentally unleashing the zombie apocalypse upon Earth… but was it actually an accident? No. No it wasn’t. Even though it clearly was.
Previously looking for the stragglers of Humanity, Alice now decides to take on Umbrella. It’s a bit late to actually save the planet, yet Alice and a lot of her dispensable clones still go on a slightly suicidal revenge mission to eliminate what remains of society. Once this mission is quickly and shoddily executed early on in the film – in a ridiculous opening sequence that rapes the Matrix’s memory even further – she goes back to looking for what remains of Humanity. Here she finds people trapped, alone and desperate to reach salvation in the form of a place called Arcadia. But is this infection-free paradise what it seems? No. It isn’t. You’d be a moron to think otherwise.
So what’s the acting like? The only real homage to the Resident Evil games appears to be the acting – it’s jilted and abysmal, especially from Shawn Robert’s laughably evil Albert Wesker. Not all the acting is atrocious, but it’s not great. Game franchise favourites Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) and Clare Redfield (Ali Larter) appear again, and the actors bumble through the film likeably, but their roles are totally pointless in comparison to the uber-awesome Alice. They’re window-dressing for fans, and Anderson treats them with the same distain he does for the mythos of the games.
Milla Jovovich is once again given an un-challenging kick-arse role that has now become her career’s tired cliché. Like a bored version of Kate Beckinsale or Rhona Mitra, she is grossly without personality, humour or charm. It is a genuine shame, because Jovovich can be excellent when given a decent character and a good director – see The Fifth Element, Joan of Arc and A Perfect Getaway – but is tragically more famous for her roles in such crud-fests as Ultraviolet and the Resident Evil films. It is a waste of potential, thanks to her cedar-vomiting husband Paul, who insists on monopolizing her time for further childish film adaptations – next up is the terrifying concept of Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers”. Yep. Although this Alexandre Dumas adaptation will probably have more zombies in it than Resident Evil 4…
But wait! Is the 3D any good?! Well, boldly claiming itself as A New Dimension in Evil, it’s like asking if a giant sweaty dog turd is better in your left hand or your right hand. It doesn’t matter. The only dimension this film would be good in is in a parallel dimension, where you can never see it. The 3D is competent, but does force the movie into becoming Resident Evil: Bullets & Glass, as Anderson flings as much CGI nonsense at the screen in order to keep you squinting in annoyance throughout.
Stupid. Utterly and totally stupid. Utterly and totally painfully stupid. Resident Evil: Afterlife fails on so many levels it’s almost a work of unwatchable genius – a warning for all franchises. This has to be the final coffin nail banged into a horror series that should’ve died shortly after the semi-decent original raised some pleased eyebrows in 2002.
Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil raping better stay dead. If it begins to twitch, pass me a Colt Python handgun – I’ll blast a hole in its head and end it forever. If you spend money on seeing this, you’re killing cinema. This monster needs to die.