Ah, “Resident Evil.” The video game/movie franchise centered on the evil experiments of the Umbrella corporation, and the zombies and other horrifying creatures that resulted from themdd and never fail to amuse if you’re a fan of gore and watching Milla Jovovich kick some butt, which I am.
The fourth installment in the series, titled “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” is a 1-hour, 37 minute romp through Alaskan wilderness and zombie-fied Los Angeles, filmed in 3D with the same cameras used for James Cameron’s “Avatar.”
Alice (Milla Jovovich) breaks into the Tokyo headquarters of Umbrella Corp., attempting to fulfill her mission to destroy Umbrella and get revenge for causing the outbreak.. As she infiltrates the lair, we see the Alice clones, which have been transformed in earlier films into a superhuman by her immunity to the original zombie “T-virus” and further Umbrella experimentation.
After Albert Wesker, Umbrella chairman escapes in a helicopter, the original Alice appears behind him, ready to finish the job, when he injects her with an anti-virus, ridding her of increased strength and extra-sensory abilities.
If you’re lost already, so was I to be honest. When the first “Resident Evil” film came out, I was obsessed with this crazy zombie film with a strong female lead. The second film, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” was another fun one, but I neglected to catch the third, “Resident Evil: Extinction.”
“Afterlife’s” plot hinges strongly on viewers’ knowledge of “Extinction,” involving many previous characters and their actions. Ali Larter, who reprises her role as Claire Redfield, said in a recent interview that the 3D cameras used for this film only allowed them to shoot for 23 seconds at a time.
One has to wonder if the incredibly brief explanations and flashbacks that try to explain the previous film might have something to do with that.
Another issue with the film, as with any action film, is the ridiculously flawed logic. At one point, a gigantic man-creature with a nail-covered face and human-sized hammer/axe begins harassing the group of survivors sequestered in a Los Angeles jail. Alice delivers an expert kick to his face.
I cringed in my seat, hoping she would avoid catching a nail on her foot. I guess Alice was prepared, though, because she hit the one place on his head not covered in rusty nails. There are multiple other examples in the film, but to be fair, suspension of disbelief in cinema is a contract everyone has to agree upon to enjoy this genre.
One of the interesting themes of “Resident Evil” and many apocalyptic and horror movies is altruism. In “Afterlife,” members of the group of survivors are disowned or even thrown to the wolves when they reveal they would rather save themselves than work toward survival and safety of the group. Early in the film, when Alice is injected with an anti-virus that returns her to a more human state, Alice thanks Wesker, saying, “Thank you… for making me human again.”
I always wonder if this is what draws viewers to this type of film—the question of whether we would act so morally superior if we were under the same conditions.
I’m not trying to get too deep here.
“Afterlife’s” main enjoyment is in watching zombies die, planes crash, keeping your eye on what pops out corners and wondering if Alice will finally topple Umbrella Corp. Though the series has never been critically acclaimed, it’s worth the money to catch this film. It may have even inspired me to reprise my favorite high school Halloween costume: ass-kicking Alice.