Dateline: Tokyo. Alice (Milla Jovovich) narrates for about a minute and a half as we watch some Japanese school girl chomp down on some random dude and then observe as the world blacks out. That’s pretty much it for the back story in Paul W.S. Anderson’s fourth Resident Evil movie, ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ which is a showcase of ‘Matrix’ style graphics aided by thirteen years worth of visual technological advances since that movie was released, and it was all encased in glorious 3D. And it was little else.
For instance let’s examine our explosive opening sequence in which the super human Alice Clones invade the underground Umbrella Corp fortress. Imagine ‘The Matrix’ lobby scene amped to the level of eleven complete with all the shattering columns and heroes who can scale walls and flip and shoot, then toss in some Matrix style bullet-motion and then stop your action and have your camera rotate around this action. Then put it all in 3D. Oh, and then toss in a semi-invincible dude who wears a suit and shades and talks in monotone and moves like the wind. Derivative perhaps, but it does look cool. This also brings up the issue of this movie lacking any kind of back story. I’ve seen the first three Resident Evil movies but I still had no idea why there were so many Alice’s running around. Eventually I started to vaguely remember something about The Umbrella Corporation… that damn Umbrella Corporation… creating more Alice’s but again it’s not like these movies are so memorable to engrave themselves into your sub-consciousness so a few seconds worth of refresher might’ve been in order. And Lord help you if one hasn’t seen the other movies because you are plum out of luck. The only positive about this would be the ‘narrative’ in this flick is so unimportant that you just kind of roll with whole thing.
Eventually a story does develop a little bit with Alice looking for the people she sent off in the last movie to find the haven known as Arcadia. Alice doesn’t find Arcadia but instead finds a completely crazed Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) with an odd electronic scarab attached to her chest. We don’t why this is but we’re pretty sure the Umbrella Corp. is behind it somehow. Intuition is what that’s called.
So Alice loads an amnesiatic Claire into her little biplane and ends up in zombie infested Hollywood where our pair of super thin hotties stumbles upon a small group of survivors taking refuge at the local penitentiary. Amongst these survivors would be one Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) who claims to be Claire’s brother but it’s not like Claire can remember anything. Regardless the family reunion will have to wait because zombies have breached the prison fortress and our merry band of survivors is getting strategically whittled down by order of the salary they were paid to be in this movie.
What our surviving heroes need to do is make it to Arcadia, which as it turns out is a real place. Disease free food, shelter and protection awaits. Or not. That damn Umbrella Corporation, I tell you. AIG has nothing on these guys.
Unlike the putrid, money gouging, post 3D process the studios forced us to watch in movies like ‘Clash of the Titans’ or ‘The Last Airbender’, this movie was at least shot with 3D in mind from the very start. I still don’t appreciate paying a premium to wear a second set of glasses, and it dawned on me while watching this movie that I probably should go ahead and design a pair of 3D clip-ons since 3D isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the 3D in ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ did add significant value to this otherwise completely valueless insignificant film.
The truth of the matter is that there really isn’t anything here beyond the impressive visuals to really discuss about this movie. Fans of the Capcom videogame have long abandoned hope for these movies having anything to do with the videogames that spawned them outside of name recognition, or at least I hope they have by now because they have nothing coming. But this episode isn’t even true to its own bastardized version of Resident Evil. As we pointed out earlier there is no back story so if you haven’t seen the previous movies there’s nothing much to latch onto because the story we’re working with in this one is completely negligible. Milla Jovovich looked bored throughout most of the movie, possibly because her CGI doppelganger received more screen time than she did, and the other characters were mainly cardboard cutouts to give the zombies something to play with.
But, again, the visuals were impressive. They were disconnected and because there wasn’t much in the way of story or character to support these impressive visuals they lacked impact, but they were nice nonetheless.
And that’s really all we have for you. Great looking movie with nice special effects and well implemented 3D visuals surrounding… well… nothing. For some that may be enough. The movie didn’t even have the common decency to end. You’re going to have wait to for Resident Evil… let’s go with, I don’t know… Reborn… to get an ending. The sad part is I have too much invested in this mess, so I’ll be watching that too.