Sometimes we have highfalutin notions about what we expect from our cinema. We expect that each film will give us a deep introspective into human nature, revealing the depths of our humanity giving us insights into the meaning of life. We want to drink red wine, eat cheese and discuss with our friends that one part that really made us chortle (even though secretly inside we didn’t really get what was so funny.)
Resident Evil: Afterlife will never be one of those movies – nor should it be.
In the fourth installment, the movie takes us back to the story of Alice (Milla Jovovich), our headstrong protagonist with a kickass natural talent for wielding swords and shooting guns full of quarters. She’s still fighting the evil Umbrella Corporation, whose unethical testing of the T-virus has unleashed a (un)killer virus that manages to wipe out the majority of humanity and resurrect them from the dead. Her main priority is finding the survivors she sent to Alaska in search of an infection-free colony. In order to extend the movie, her plan is thwarted when she arrives at the shore and finds out no one is there except her friend Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), who doesn’t know who Alice is let alone what happened. Distraught, Alice takes Claire to where all lost souls go – Los Angeles – to find what’s left. Instead, she finds another band of non-infected led by Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), and they plan their escape to nowhere.
It’s doubtful that you’ll remember the storyline, punctuated by little dialogue and overused cheesy slow motion fight scenes, but it doesn’t really matter. Alice is annoying as an unbelievably static character, not even phased when her superhuman powers and clones – which she gained in the last installment – are completely wiped out by her nemesis Albert Weskler (Shawn Roberts). With her steel determination, she’s like the Terminator, complete with jilted speech and face devoid of any emotion, plugging forward to complete the only mission she knows. Her followers are complete stereotypes of all action stars: brooding, plotting, ready to take down the enemy at any second. (Then again, maybe you would be too if you’ve been chased around by flesh-hungry zombies for the last few years.) It’s far-fetched to grasp that her friends who have no super powers can be slammed down on the floor and still get up with no bruises, but hey, it stretches the imagination when the now-human Alice can run through a crowd of the undead unscathed.
But, all the clichés and the rather predictable plot work as this movies strength. Yes, comic books and video games have been translated into great movies, like The Dark Knight, but that’s not what the majority of people who are going to this movie are looking for. They want memorable, completely unrealistic fight scenes, which director Paul W.S. Anderson does, beautifully rendered in 3D. Anderson didn’t go for cheap thrills: There’s no guts flying at your face or too many bullets that make you flinch. It’s kind of like watching a live action video game, and because he doesn’t use too many gimmicks, the action packed movie manages not to make you motion sick. Although he could have done with more lighting (3D already darkens the colors), everything crisply pops out. They want to escape into the world that they are so used to playing and see what Anderson envisions when he plays the game. The fact that the story is loosely based off the game series makes it movie fan fiction. To fans who enjoy dreaming and thinking about Resident Evil outside the game, it’s a well-fitting side story that expands the Resident Evil universe.
Resident Evil: Afterlife isn’t going to win any awards or provoke any deep social commentary about our current consumer zombified state. It’s not going to change the face of 3D technology or change how we make movies. But, that’s not what you look for in a Resident Evil movie anyway.
Official Techland rating: 2.5 out of 5