Theatrical Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife

When last we saw Alice at the end of Resident Evil: Extinction, she had discovered all of the clones that had been made of her and was planning to assault the Japan headquarters of the Umbrella Corporation. The people she had helped were making their way to what they believed was salvation to Arcadia.

After a brief introduction to the whole Resident Evil experience, Resident Evil: Afterlife picks up right where Extinction had left off, with Alice’s assault on the Umbrella Corporation and looking to find the secret of Arcadia. Along the way, she meets up with an old ally and picks up some new ones. And it’s all presented in some pretty slick 3D.

So goes Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth in the series of theatrical releases of the Resident Evil series (and technically the fifth in the series on the whole if you include the animated Resident Evil: Degenration) based off of the popular video game series. I’ve only ever played the first game in the series, so I’m not too sure how closely this follows the games, though I do know that they’ve been adding characters from the games along the way.

Paul W.S. Anderson returns to direct this fourth installment and boy, he’s sure having a lot of fun playing with 3D. I know there’s a lot of hate out there around his work, but I’ve always tended to enjoy his films my own self, and I can certainly say the same for Resident Evil: Afterlife.

Now there are a couple of downsides. First, like the Saw series, you really have to be a fan from the start and have seen the previous films. You can’t just go into this one cold and expect to pick everything up. There’s a brief introduction to what has led to this, but I still don’t think it’s enough for a fresh viewer. Second, there’s nothing really original here going on and if you’re looking to see something you haven’t seen before, then you won’t find it here. This doesn’t really bother me a whole lot as long as it’s well put together and I think this is. Third, our main villain of the piece, the character named Albert Wesker is little more than a clone of Agent Smith from the Matrix series. Actor Shawn Roberts looks and plays him like what you’d get if you mixed Hugo Weaving with Val Kilmer. I don’t blame him for his portrayal of the character though, this was no doubt what was asked from him and he certainly does bring that.

But on the plus side, the film really has a great look to it. Anderson looks like he’s been looking at a lot of anime and it shows here. The action sequences are all very exciting and fun to watch. The 3D is exceptional and Anderson is just basking in it with lots of scene immersion and in-your-face effects. This features a very nice techno score from the duo know as tomandandy (though I could see that being a turn-off for some as well, but not me). And it adds a couple of new characters to the mix, Boris Kodjoe playing Luthor West and more importantly Wentworth Miller playing Chris Redfield. As a big Prison Break fan, I was really happy to see Miller come on board here, and he brings a similar intensity to the part.

Of course, Milla Jovovich is back as Alice and Ali Larter returns as Claire Redfield. Jovovich has been money in the bank for this series. She has a committed performance, she embraces the heavy duty action and boy, she looks terrific. Larter’s fine as well, though she doesn’t quite strike me the same way that Jovovich does. Rounding things out, we have Kim Coates (from Sons of Anarchy) playing a sleaze-bag character who’s looking out for himself. It’s certainly nothing new for Coates, though it’s cool to see him here. And stay through the end credits, you’ll get a peak at another returning character.

If you’re a fan of the series (and I am) you should probably have a lot of fun with this. It’s not without it’s faults, but it’s still a fun ride and as I said, the 3D is terrific. I very much look forward to the next movie in the series.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

12. September 2010 by Darren Goodhart
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