Horror / Sci-Fi / Action

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Distributed By: Screen Gems

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            I’m a big fan of the Resident Evil franchise.  I loved the video games and they, with some gentle prodding from my brother-in-law, inspired me to see the first film based on the games.  I was initially afraid to see the film, worried that they may not create a storyline that would do the games proud, but I was pleasantly surprised.  From there, I was totally hooked.  When it was announced that there would be a fourth installment of Resident Evil, I became excited.  When it was revealed that Resident Evil: Afterlife would be a 3-D film, I cringed.  Would this new obsession with 3-D technology ruin the franchise I had grown to love?  There was only one way to find out.

            Resident Evil: Afterlife picks up where Extinction ended, with Alice (Milla Jovovich) hunting down Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), the man responsible for the new experimentation the Umbrella Corporation has been conducting with zombies created by the T-Virus (created and leaked to the world by the Umbrella Corporation).  The experiments have been creating even more horrific creatures out of the original zombies and the scientists at the Umbrella Corporation have been known to experiment on human beings not affected by the virus as well.  Thus, Alice is on a crusade to exact revenge for what was done to her as well as for the entire human race.

            Unfortunately, although Alice and her set of clones are able to infiltrate and paralyze the Japan-based headquarters of the Umbrella Corporation, Wesker escapes, but not before he injects Alice with a serum that will neutralize the T-Virus cells the Umbrella Corporation implanted in her system.  After Wesker gloats about having now removed her super-enhanced abilities such as speed and agility, Alice thanks him for making her “normal again” before the two part ways in a horrific helicopter crash.

            After losing Wesker and recovering from her injuries, Alice goes in search of her friends.  Claire Redfield (Ali Later) and her band of survivors have headed off to Arcadia, a location somewhere in Alaska rumored to be virus-free.  When Alice gets there, she finds the location deserted but for one person - Claire Redfield, crazed and suffering from amnesia thanks to a mechanical scarab-shaped device attached to her person.  Alice removes the device and takes Claire with her as she prepares her search for more survivors, all the while hoping that Claire will remember what happened when her group arrived at Arcadia and what happened to the rest of her group.

            Arriving in Los Angeles, Alice and Claire come across another band of survivors who have been holed up in an abandoned penitentiary.  It is there that they learn Arcadia is not a location, but rather a ship which is now stationed just off the California coast.  Unfortunately, they place is surrounded by zombies and the Arcadia hasn’t sent a hailing message in days.  A prisoner in maximum security lockup (Wentworth Miller) claims to be a soldier who was locked up by mistake and says that he knows another way out of the prison other than the front door.  Alice decides to trust him and we learn that this prisoner is telling the truth - he’s not only a soldier, but it is soon revealed that he is Claire Redfield’s brother.

            They devise a plan to get to the Arcadia, but soon realize their plan has to be expedited as a new species of zombies has found a way inside the prison.  Can they find an alternate route out of the prison and if so, once they get to the Arcadia, will it actually be the safe haven they’ve been searching for?

            There are some moments in Afterlife that are obviously contrived.  I mean, how fortuitous is it that Chris Redfield would just happened to be locked up in a Los Angeles prison and how coincidental that Alice would arrive at that particular location and see survivors on the roof?  How interesting that he would notice Claire just after Alice releases him from his cell.  And isn’t it also interesting that the Arcadia would just happened to be stationed off the coast of California when Alice decides to drop by for a visit?  A little too much of a coincidence, no?  Something else is a bit strange - Alice seems to fight as well without the special T-Virus mutation as she did with it.  Interesting!

            Another issue I had was with the 3-D technology used in the film.  In my opinion, it was completely unnecessary.  The movie would have played just fine without it and I wouldn’t have had to pay $12.00 for a matinee showing of the film just so I could get a pair of those damned 3-D glasses.

            That being said, I can honestly say that I still enjoyed this film.  As with every other installment in the Resident Evil movie franchise, Afterlife is action-packed and that action takes off in the very first minutes of the film, never truly abating even in the final moments of the movie. 

            Milla Jovovich is the consummate action hero - not only dies she make for a striking character with her sexy figure and those hauntingly bright eyes, but she is a formidable opponent with amazing fighting skills and survival sense.  Jovovich makes hardcore fans of the video game forget that the character of Alice was created entirely for the movies.  No such character exists in the video games, but the Alice of the Resident Evil movies is just too cool to care about that.

            Ali Larter is terrific as Claire Redfield.  I believe that Larter has found her niche as an action hero.  She’s a great dramatic actor, but add that to her action hero prowess and you’ll find she lends credibility to each and every action film character she has portrayed.

            Very welcome additions to the franchise are Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts and Boris Kodjoe.  Shawn Roberts was the perfect replacement for Jason O’Mara in the role of Albert Wesker.  Not to say that O’Mara didn’t do a good job with the role, but Roberts plays it with such an evil intensity that you just can’t help but hate him more.  Wentworth Miller and Boris Kodjoe as Chris Redfield and Luther West respectively are great in their roles and rather easy on the eyes, making them fun to watch in action.  Also, it’s nice to see another character from the video game finally make an appearance in the Resident Evil movies.

            The soundtrack of Resident Evil: Afterlife features a musical score by the song writing duo known as tomandandy.  The music composed for this film does much to enhance the adrenaline-pumping visual effects of the movie.  The graphics are just as amazing as ever, albeit the fact that some are tailored just a bit too much to the 3-D styling.  In my opinion, blood and shrapnel flying at me from the screen does not a good special effect make.  Something that makes me jump in my seat or cringe is much more effective.  The rest is just fluff added to satisfy the new fascination with 3-D.  I also loved the cinematography in this film - the panning sweeps of the camera providing such breathtaking views and a variety of angles of the landscape both infected and virus-free.

            I strongly recommend this film to any fan of the franchise, whether it be the video games, the books of the movies.  There’s just no way you could afford to miss this segment of the series.  But a word or two to the wise: First, be warned that the action in Resident Evil: Afterlife will leave you with an adrenaline rush that will last long after the movie is over.  And second, don’t leave until the credits are over.  There’s a surprise scene that takes place in the middle of the credits you are not going to miss.  Suffice it to say that the scene marks the return of one of the characters from the video games and that their return takes place in a rather strange and alarming capacity.

For more Resident Evil, check out these articles:

Resident Evil

Resident Evil: Extinction

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

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