If there’s anyone deserving of the electric chair, it’s Paul W.S. Anderson. Now I say this for a couple of reasons — most of which stem from a recent interview with the popular site, Rotten Tomatoes, however, a lot of my hatred also derives from his body of work which includes Soldier (bad), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (worse), the Death Race remake (. . . no comment), and of course, Resident Evil (oh sweet Jesus. . .) which has since spawned three sequels, of which include this weekend’s Resident Evil: Afterlife, which definitely sports the highest production values of the series.
But before I touch upon the atrocity that is Resident Evil: Afterlife, let me bring up exactly why I found the interview to be so infuriating.
First of all, Anderson compares himself to James Cameron and the Resident Evil series to The Terminator and its sequels. That right there is blasphemy to me — not because I necessarily like Cameron, in fact, I’m being to despise him — but as an avid fan of Terminator, I just can’t stomach the comparison. It makes me that sick. Secondly, he calls Resident Evil: Afterlife “an epic of the undead genre.” That right there deserves one thousand lashes.
But onto the actual film; it’s loud, it’s obnoxious, it’s bloody, it’s poorly written, it’s ineptly acted, it’s horribly edited, and it features a distorted modern rock album — it’s basically the definition of a video game adaptation. And one of my biggest gripes with this installment is that it liberally borrows from its predecessors.
The plot, which rehashes a lot of material from its predecessors, is as follows: In attempt to find the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse, which has been started by the menacing Umbrella Corporation, Alice (Milla Jovovich), the super powered heroine of the first films, travels to Alaska, where radio broadcasts are claiming it is “infection-free” and abundant in supplies and protection. However, when she arrives, all she sees are abandoned aircraft — an ominous sign that is all a lie.
But Alice does eventually run into one person, Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), who is one of Alice’s few friends, and who was planning a trip to the proclaimed utopia. But things aren’t celebratory for the long lost friends as Claire attacks Alice (which is later explained to be because of a mind-controlling spider-shaped contraption implanted on Claire’s chest). Within minutes, however, Claire and Alice are friends again and on their way to Los Angeles, on a trek to find more survivors. This is just one of the many abrupt transitions that Resident Evil: Afterlife suffers from.
Once they arrive, they spot some fellow humans — on top of a rooftop, just above a sea of zombified monstrosities. Two of these survivors include Bennett (Kim Coates), a former film producer who has trouble adjusting to his new life and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), the lone black dude who happens to lead the team (just because every zombie movie needs one of these). Well, it turns out that the safe haven wasn’t in Alaska but instead on a ship floating just outside Los Angeles and its up to the team to get there in one piece, however, things aren’t always what they seem.
The first scene of the film pretty much sums up its quality. Resident Evil: Afterlife starts with a shot of a Japanese girl, the first victim of the zombie outbreak, as she quietly stands in the center of the sidewalk. Now of course, this scene has been spoiled in the trailers, and even if it wasn’t, it’s pretty obvious that she’s going to attack someone, but no, Anderson spends about three minutes just circling around the girl in a pathetic attempt to build tension — it fails, just like most of the film, which quickly collapses from there.
On top of the token black guy, every film starring the undead needs an over-the-top villain, and in the case of the Resident Evil series, it’s Albert Wesker (now played by Shawn Roberts), the powerful leader of Umbrella. First and for most, anyone who wears sunglasses in an underground facility is automatically a douche, but on top of that Roberts employs this monotone action-villain accent that is just plain cheesy. Plus he smirks as if to alert the audience that Wesker is indeed one bad motherfucker.
But it’s not just Roberts; Wentworth Miller is also guilty of trying too hard to emulate Stallion. Ironically, the Prison Break star is introduced as a prisoner. Miller plays Chris Redfield, a soldier who was mistaken for a guard by newly freed prisoners and trapped in a cell as a joke. The survivors don’t believe him, of course, but when his promises of a way out of the prison that they’ve holed themselves in, becomes more valuable, they decide to cut him loose.
Through the predictable slow-motion editing and the undeniably bad performances from all of the film’s leads, this includes Jovovich, there is one interesting scene. Once you get through the painfully bad shootouts involving the plethora of pathetically crafted zombies that have broke into the prison, Alice and Claire are faced with the executioner — a vital enemy in the Resident Evil mythology, whose defining characteristics include being huge, wearing a potato sack as a mask, and carrying a big-ass hammer/axe hybrid. This scene is interesting not because it has awesome fight sequences, but instead because it has Ali Larter and Milla Jovovich (both of which are extremely attractive) getting wet n’ wild in a prison bathroom (after the executioner breaks the shower heads). There’s also an awesome decapitation for those who aren’t interested in Larter and Jovovich — which probably means you’re either gay or a woman.
But I must end this review with my last gripe about the film. In the interview, Anderson says, “I really believe that, as filmmakers, we have a duty, which is, if we’re asking people to pay a premium price for a 3D ticket, we have a duty to deliver a premium product. And I feel that the premium product is delivered by really shooting a proper 3D movie.” So why is it that I felt so ripped off? Just putting everything bad about the film aside and just focusing on the extra technology, there is nothing new and/or entertaining about it — it’s just a gimmick and ultimately a waste of money for any potential audience member.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is one of those zombie films that give George A. Romero a confidence boost and make Haitian sorcerers keel over.