Resident Evil: Afterlife is the fourth film in the popular action-horror franchise, based of course on the beloved video games. Most important of all, Afterlife is the first Resident Evil film to be filmed in 3D, and it’s this small fact that helps to make this movie the best and most ridiculously enjoyable in what is otherwise a relatively mediocre series.
Speaking from personal experience, it’s possible to watch Resident Evil: Afterlife without having seen all the other films in the franchise. You also don’t need an intricate knowledge of the Resident Evil games to understand what is going on. There’s ass-kicking, gun-toting Alice (Milla Jovovich) and she travels around a post-Apocalyptic North America, looking for survivors who managed to escape a deadly virus that transformed most of the world’s population into zombies. Along the way Alice makes new friends, blows holes through dozens of undead and has to contend with the sinister Umbrella Corporation, headed by genetically enhanced chairman Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts).
In all honesty, Resident Evil: Afterlife feels less like the Capcom video games that inspired it, and more like a enjoyable, and highly conscious, combination of movies The Matrix and Dawn of The Dead. This said, plenty of fan-pleasing references are made to the games, including the opening credits sequence, which, along with being a nifty 3D showcase, offers a clever little nod to the games’ Japanese origins. Then, of course, there are the Majini, the Silent Hill-esque Executioner and the inclusion, finally, of series star Chris Redfield – played by Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller (who is amusingly introduced to audiences sitting inside a jail cell).
You have to be in a good, undemanding mood when watching Resident Evil: Afterlife because truthfully the film is dumb, derivative and woodenly acted. This however is to be expected if you’ve seen any of the other Resident Evil films – and it doesn’t detract too much from your enjoyment of the film. Viewers just have to accept that Afterlife takes place in a sublimely silly world where wielding guns akimbo is the norm, action scenes routinely slip into acrobatic slow motion and the film’s supporting cast are conveniently always experts at a required skill (â€œOh, I was a high school swim champâ€).
In terms of performances, Jovovich once again carries the movie as Alice, a badass action heroine who is far more no-nonsense than Angelina Jolie. In a smart move, Alice is also considerably more vulnerable this time around when compared to some of the other Resident Evil films. And it’s also worth noting at this point that Afterlife’s first fight scene will likely fulfil a certain fantasy of Jovovich’s many male admirers.
Speaking of appealing performances in Afterlife, Boris Kodjoe is also extremely likeable as a basketball star turned zombie slayer. Wentworth Miller and Heroes’ Ali Larter are notoriously stiff actors, and with zero character development in Afterlife, they have little to do as siblings Chris and Claire Redfield except grit their teeth, glare and fire guns. They are far more effective however than Roberts, who comes across as The Matrix’s Agent Smith on creatine, without a drop of Hugo Weaving’s personality.
As mentioned before though, these failings are to be expected of Resident Evil films, and do far less harm to the fun than Afterlife’s tendency to cut short the most enjoyable scenes and action sequences – such as the prison siege and Executioner battle. Then there’s the film’s unsatisfying cliff-hanger ending that promises yet another sequel.
For the record, Resident Evil: Afterlife should only be watched in 3D to be appreciated fully. The film is a prime example of 3D cinema done right, and the use of the format really enhances the film throughout – not just the action scenes – while the fantastic visuals help viewers overlook the movie’s many flaws. As expected, and in keeping with the tone of the film, the 3D used in Afterlife is very cheesy. Weapons are continually thrown at the camera, and the audience is frequently splattered with zombie brains and threatened with tentacles. Still though, it’s marvellous fun – arguably the best and most exhilarating use of 3D in an action film to date. A bullet-time boss fight in close-up is especially impressive, and you can’t help but think this is the closest we’ll ever get to watching The Matrix in 3D.
In the end then, Resident Evil: Afterlife is surprisingly one of the best brainless popcorn flicks of 2010. It offers something enjoyable for fans of the Resident Evil games, zombie films and The Matrix alike. Without the addition of the 3D gimmick however, the movie is nothing special so it’s advisable to seek out Resident Evil: Afterlife on the big screen in the current format flavour of the moment for maximum enjoyment.
Last Updated: September 14, 2010