Sunday, September 12, 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D

Don't Mess With These Two Ladies!

Think Resident Evil the movies, and the first image that'll come to mind will be Milla Juvovich as Project Alice kicking zombie butt. It's been some 8 years since Juvovich became synonymous with the Resident Evil movie franchise, and personally, I still enjoyed the first one best, followed by Extinction, then Apocalypse for its really awful story. If I have to rate this one, I'll put it below the first and third films in that order, where once again it has its special effects, which is really an amalgamation of things seen before, to save the movie from its weak plot.

Paul W.S. Anderson goes back to the director's chair after giving up directing responsibilities for the sequels, assuming only producing and writing credits, and although it's widely touted as having used James Cameron's 3D technology, Afterlife hasn't actually benefitted from that because of the way scenes were crafted that didn't exploit that technology fully like what Cameron did for Avatar. Either that, or we're already too tired with the gimmick, and this one doesn't offer anything new to provide any instance of Wow. We don't require any more depth in field please, at least some depth in plot rather than something that looked to have jumped straight out of Prison Break.

That's right, Prison Break, with the largest tongue-in-cheek joke being the casting of Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield, brother of Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) who was introduced in the previous film. The first shot of Chris was within a prison cell within a prison, and the irony of it all is when he alone holds the key to everyone else's salvation from blood thirsty flesh lusting zombies trying to get past the high walls and heavy gates, which they eventually do to provide our ensemble human survivors, led by Alice, a fight sequence or two.

You may grumble that plot is secondary here so long as we get to see the hotness that is Milla Juvovich grace the big screen and doing what she does best in the franchise. True, Juvovich's Milla undergoes a glam facelift from the grungy look seen in the previous installment, but even her strikingly beautiful features can't save the film from slipping into the territory of bore. The prologue started off wonderfully though, with its moody atmospherics to canonize how the Umbrella Corporation's T-Virus got unleashed, and picked up from where the last film left off with the salivating promise of a whole bunch of Alice clones all waiting to be awoken to kick Umbrella's behind. Once the fight sequence is over, which included a nice way to get rid of Alice's invulnerability and god-like abilities, there's only so much one can stand on Alice flying around and lull you into a deep sleep with a lot of voiceover mumbo-jumbo.

Reuniting with Claire Redfield and trying to figure out the promise of a zombie-free land in Arcadia mentioned in Extinction, Afterlife fell prey to a bunch of movie cliches, that even you can guess who will bite the dust first amongst a group of survivors, who will survive, who will turncoat in loyalty, and so on. There's no real threat here offered by the villains, led by Umbrella head honcho Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) that he looked quite the typical egomaniac who can't just pull the trigger fast enough to get rid of his enemies. Other than that, the finale fight involves two CG rabid dogs that seriously, nobody will think will pose a threat to Alice, even in her vulnerable state. Plot loopholes are plentiful, but don't expect the CG effects to compensate for that. As already mentioned, the 3D here is nothing to shout about.

I was a tad disappointed as well with the fight scenes, which seem more like a rehash of what's on offer from the earlier films, with only Claire/Alice's battle with the Axeman (Ray Olubowale) the only fight sequence something worth mentioning. Otherwise for those who are still keen to sit through the end credits, you'll get a coda involving Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) that will only make sense to fans out there, who will celebrate in knowing that the 3D ticket sales had boosted numbers enough for another Resident Evil film to be added to the franchise.

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