Notable Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts, Boris Kodjoe
Wherever you are, I want you to stand up and start clapping. That's right, just stand up from your computer and give Mr. Anderson a hand. Why, might you ask? Well, Mr. Paul "I Can't Write A Fucking Solid Script" Anderson has decided to push new boundaries.
Not fooling you? All right, I confess. That's not true. The only boundaries he is pushing are the ones in the wrong direction, making a film that is just as bad (or dare I say worse?) than Resident Evil: Apocalypse with the fourth installment of the franchise. That's right. One of my most hated films may have met its match. It's called Resident Evil: Afterlife.
Alice (Jovovich) may be up to her neck in zombies and Umbrella shit, but that doesn't stop her from taking on the corporation head on. After taking out Wesker in the Japanese HQ of Umbrella in the intro of the film, she heads off to find her friend Claire (Larter) and the rest of the survivors from "Extinction" in Alaska. She finds Claire but she has memory loss and everyone else is missing. Now the two women will head to LA (why? *shrugs*) to find some survivors and help them out. What they discover is another conspiracy by Umbrella to continue their experiments (again, why would Umbrella continue in the end of the world, fuck knows).
The problem with Afterlife is that none of it makes sense. None of it. Not one lick. Nothing. Nada. Nilch. This isn't anything new for the franchise really, but this film doesn't even try to justify its moments. Big guy with an ax and nails in him? Why explain, he looks bad ass, right? The monsters that erupt out of zombies mouths or the zombie dogs that split? Nah. You don't need to know. The entire film goes about the details of the story in this manner. Its just frustrating as hell and does nothing to help the rather completely focus-less and pointless plot.
Of course, most of these elements were stripped from the Resident Evil 5 video game where they are explained there (like how Wesker is such a bad ass or the plagas insects that erupt from the mouths) but if you played the game then it only makes this movie seem worse.
Then we have to talk about the acting....err...okay no we really don't because it didn't exist for the film. Jovovich seems on autopilot with no emotional attachment to anything but that paycheck and doing a good for her hubby (she is married to the director for those of you that don't know) and the rest of the supporting cast overacts their way through the whole thing. The characters are cliche and the actors don't try to do much with the script on their own. Hell, the guy that plays Wesker seems to be on B-Movie Agent Smith from The Matrix the entire time. Tag onto that the rip off Matrix Alice squad attack on the Japanese Umbrella HQ and it just seems to come full shitty circle. Which does bring up that Afterlife attempts to correct some very poor scripting choices by killing off the clone and telekinesis elements form the previous entry, but even then it seems to only add more plot holes to the whole thing instead of correcting anything. So why bother?
Now, the saving grace for most Paul WS Anderson films is his directing. His sleek and modern style is enough to mostly save most of his films from drowning in its own crappy scripts, but Afterlife seems to be the exception here. Even he feels like he is trying too hard to save the film (with its snazzy 3D only adding to the gimmick cover-up) by making the focus the style. He uses enough slow motion moments to make 300 jealous and add another 20 minutes of film time. Maybe it's just not fooling me anymore, but it just isn't near enough to make this film okay this time around.
When I came out of the theater for Afterlife I was actually a little angry. The franchise was heading in a right direction with the last one, only to be taken back into the dirt by the sheer stupidity of its pointless plot and poor execution. If there was a film to give Apocalypse a run for its worthlessness it's Afterlife.
BONUS RANT: Not to give any spoilers away but the ending leaves it WIDE OPEN for another film. Damn. The third one was supposed to be the last. Looks like I'm in for more pain again with the next one.
Written By Matt Reifschneider