Release Date: September 10, 2010
Rating: R (for sequences of strong violence and language)
Genre: Action, Suspense/Horror, Sequel
Run Time: 97 min.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Actors: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Boris Kodjoe, Wentworth Miller, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Spencer Locke
Why is that Hollywood insists on giving us one-dimensional stories in 3D? With very few exceptions, 3D has served as an excuse to tease audiences into paying more for less. Much less in the case of The Last Airbender, The Final Destination and now Resident Evil: Afterlife.
The latest chapter in the Evil story, based on—you guessed it—a video game, reteams husband and wife Paul W.S. Anderson (writer/director) and Milla Jovovich (star) in a story about a virus that has killed nearly everyone. But those who died, we're told, didn't stay dead. Alice (Jovovich) walks the zombie-populated wasteland, fighting off the undead with automatic weapons, swords, throwing stars and anything else she can hurl or fire into zombie skulls.
Her enemies aren't limited to the undead, however. Leaders of the Umbrella Corp.—the organization responsible for the wiping out of humankind—are staving off Alice's efforts to track them down. The company's leader (Shawn Roberts) would like to eliminate Alice. She's trying to kill him, too, but he's an elusive target. Even when she hits the target, it doesn't matter. This is the kind of film where a character at the center of a massive explosion appears in the very next scene slightly charred but otherwise intact and unaffected. In other words, the movie is playing by video game rules, not too far removed from the ridiculous standards of the cartoonish action movies of the 1980s and '90s.
Still, you could be forgiven for scoffing at the absurdity of moments in Resident Evil: Afterlife, such as when our heroes watch a sliding door open, declare, "It's a trap!" but then walk through anyway. They're shocked when the doors close, trapping them inside. Or when the group's only escape route requires superior swimming abilities, and a side character steps forward to announce that she was a champion swimmer in high school. Or when the endangered characters, low on firepower in one scene, discover a room full of weapons in the next.
The script, written by director Anderson, can't muster anything of interest, so the filmmakers try to deliver a heightened visual experience. The 3D effects are fleetingly impressive, but not nearly enough to compensate for the narrative failures. The core audience for a film like this may not care. If the goal is to watch recreations of the game's characters fight each other on a larger-than-life screen, then mission accomplished, although the viewers' inability to control the action mitigates whatever carryover appeal might be expected for a film like this.
The violence in the film is extensive, and the language grows rougher in the film's second half. The supporting characters have zero depth. More inventive are the zombies, who attack via tentacles that emerge from their mouths and menacing dogs who continue to fight even after their heads have split in two.
It's hard to imagine this chapter in the Resident Evil movies expanding the franchise's audience. The film should have a brief theatrical run before finding its "afterlife" on home video, where its loyal audience can watch it over and over again. For everyone else, once will be quite enough.
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Language/Profanity: Lord's name taken in vain; several "f" words; son of a b-tch; d-mn; s-it.
Sex/Nudity: None, but the opening shot is a long pan up a woman's legs.
Violence: Zombie attacks include neck biting and tentacles that come out of their mouths; zombies are stopped with gunfire, swords, bladed instruments and throwing stars; people are shot, sometimes in the head, from close range; an injection into a neck; a man is sliced in two; dogs divide in two; knife through forearm and into a forehead.