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Archive for September 12th, 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Alice (Milla Jovovich) is back four a fourth instalment of the video game based movie franchise. Giving a synopsis is kind of complicated, not because the plot is complicated, it is actually as thin as ever, the reason is the movie is kind of like three small movies that are tagged together to make the overall film. We begin with Alice out for revenge against The Umbrella Corporation. This is followed by her search for other survivors. The final act reunites us with umbrella in what is probably a setup for Resident Evil 5.

Part I: the opening in Tokyo is the all action madness you have come to expect from the franchise as Alice infiltrates an underground fortress killing everything in her path. This act is a link from the previous film “Extinction” making use of one of the final revelations from that movie. It also has a useful if slightly contrived plot device that helps ground the rest of the film. Part II: is set within the walls of a Los Angeles prison surrounded by the un-dead. There is surprisingly little action in the early part of this section of the movie, this isn’t totally a bad thing as it does have a nice echo of George A. Romero’s seminal classic of the genre Dawn of the Dead (1978). I say it isn’t a totally bad thing, but it isn’t good either, it falls a long way short of Dawn of the Dead (and its 2004 remake) and really breaks the action making the middle of the movie drag and sag a little. All this is forgiven as when the action does kick in and it features the movies best scene, Alice and Claire (Ali Larter) fight a giant wielding an oversized axe/hammer. Some of this can be seen in the trailer, and as is evident from the trailer the use of slow motion is totally ridicules but surprisingly effective just like the film as a whole!

Part III: is as important in leaving the door open for a fifth movie as it is in completing this one, its narrative is predictable, “this is a trap, lets walk into it” okay so they didn’t say that but you get the idea. Just like the previous part of the movie it fails or succeeds on the action, and while the action is good, there isn’t enough of it. And that is the ultimate failing of the movie, what should have been ninety-something minutes of wall to wall action tries to be something it is not. The movie is at its best when it is having fun and to divert from this is a mistake. The movie ends on the usual cliff-hanger, but don’t expect the next film to start where this one ends. Epilogue: it is becoming increasingly common for movies (especially those based on major comic books) to have a scene after the credits that only a small number of people stay to see (I tend to only bother to stay if I know there will be such a scene). Probably out of desire for more people to see the extra scene, they don’t even bother hiding it at the end (a bit like putting an “Easter egg” on a DVD and advertising it on the box), it appears at the end of the cast just a couple of minutes into the credits and features Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) from Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), this adds an extra dimension to the cliff-hanger. Sticking with video game tradition and just like Jovovich’s Alice, Jill Valentine is sporting a new look, I have to be honest I didn’t recognise her.

With Paul W.S. Anderson, the director of the first film (and Milla Jovovich’s husband) back onboard as director after just producing the two sequels, the big question is whether it is any good? Movie snobs and the mainstream media will tell you the simple answer is no, but that really doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable. It delivers exactly what you expect of a Resident Evil movie, despite some problems with the plots particularly in the first two sequels none of the previous movies in the franchise have been unwatchable bad. The same is true of this one, as described above it has some great moments and it falls flat at times. The dialogue isn’t good but the acting isn’t bad, the production design and the photography are both good meaning it always looks good, both in the epic landscapes and the well designed interiors. What you really want to know is what I thought of the 3D, filmed using James Cameron’s 3D Fusion Camera System, it is by far the best live action example of 3D since Avatar (2009), in other words it is utterly shit and pointless. Please, please, please stop making 3D movies they are a waste of time and money.

Ultimately what I say here and whoever reads it is irrelevant as realistically few people who haven’t seen the other Resident Evil movies will come to see this one, the reason for the success of the other sequels is that a lot of people who had originally dismissed the first movie eventually saw it on home video and then went to see the sequels at the cinema/theatre, the same could happen here with a few new viewers attracted by The Emperor’s New Clothes that is 3D.

Three Stars out of Five.

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