Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

I normally don't like the term "this movie is critic proof", because let's face it, no film will ever be immune to criticism, and I don't just mean film critics. Everyone is really a critic when you get down to it.

That out of the way, the "Resident Evil" franchise is the kind of thing that's the very definition of being critic proof. Like the "Saw" and "Underworld" franchises, they are a glossy, flashy and for the most part empty series of films that will always receive a critical drubbing, but they have a built in fan base that loves them, especially on the big screen. In the world of the "Resident Evil" franchise, only a superficial similarity to the video games that started it all is had (it's really "Resident Evil" fan fiction put into movie form when you think about it), the acting and dialogue is largely poor, the action is hyper-edited, and the whole series is an empty. So in short, it's perfect for those who prefer movies on the high-calorie junk food variety, so I have nothing against it really. Hell, I liked the last entry in the series, which understood fully that it was a low-aspirations B-Movie and nothing more. So while it's not the worst entry in the series (Hello "Apocalypse"), the latest entry in the franchise suggests something that is beginning to get long in the tooth.

Taking place after the events of "Extinction", "Afterlife" finds our heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich)
and her army of clones infiltrating an Umbrella Corporation unit in an attempt to take out Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), only to have Albert inject her with a serum that takes away her super powers. In the process, she runs into an old friend in Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), whose undergone amnesia. Thankfully, they find refuge with a group of survivors in L.A., which include Clair's brother Chris ("Prison Break" star Wentworth Miller). However, they soon realize that their safe haven isn't all that safe, what with underground mutants, flesh hungry zombies and a masked monster with a huge axe all after them, and that the place known as Arcadia (no, not the Duran Duran side project) might not be what they hope it is.

Got all that? Good. Sure sounds dumb, doesn't it? It sure is. To be fair, I do enjoy cinematic junk food, and there are a few good things about this. Jovovich for one, seems to be getting more comfortable as the ridiculously bad ass Alice, and Kim Coates (from the all around awesome FX series "Sons of Anarchy") is a total blast as the sleazy movie producer Bennett. At the same time, I dug the industrial rock score by tomandandy, and I even kinda like how it rips off other movies. This is the kind of movie that unapologetic knocks off other, far superior movies ("Dawn of the Dead" and it's remake, "The Decent" and "The Matrix" for example) so shamelessly that you can't help but go with it and say "okay then."

As I said though, this is not a particularly good movie, and is only sporadically entertaining one at that. Sure, there are moments that made me go "Okay, that was kinda cool", but those were only moments, as there isn't really anything here that's really engaging. It's just kind of there, with a lot of flashy editing techniques and action scenes, but little else. Scenes like Chris meeting his sister are clearly meant to appease fans of the games (and the movies) as well as gain some sort of emotional resonance, but they just can't. Also, I know it's useless to complain about bad acting in a movie like this, but dammit if Shawn Roberts is bad as Wesker. He grits his teeth and talks in an evil tone, and doesn't for one moment do anything to make him a very convincing villain. Another thing that needs to be brought up is the constant Slow-Motion shots, which are used to the point that it almost feels like you are watching someone parody the use of slow motion in a movie. It's no wonder the film feels shorter than it actually is.

As I said, it feels weird criticizing something that truly does feel critic proof, but in spite of a few fun things, "Resident Evil: Extinction" is a rather pointless sequel that barely furthers whatever dumb story there is, and feels like a franchise that's beginning to run on fumes. I wouldn't be surprised if even fans of the previous movies felt the same way.

Rating: 4/10

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