Those wishing to catch up on zombie-related events thus far should read this article first. And then we may resume our broadcast day.
The fourth live action movie in the zombie-slaying franchise, based on the popular videogame series, comes to cinema screens with original director Paul W. S. Anderson back in the big chair and Milla Jovovich yet again taking the central role of Alice, a woman changed by her experiences with the dastardly Umbrella corporation.
Following on, pretty much, from the last movie (although there have been changes made to allow the story to move forward in a new direction) and also providing the very briefest of stylish recaps for newcomers, Resident Evil: Afterlife is slightly removed from the zombie action of it’s predecessors and moves more into straightforward action territory albeit action with the occasional zombie threat thrown in there. Alongside Jovovich we also get Ali Larter returning as Claire Redfield, Albert Wesker (this time played by Shawn Roberts) back as the main non-zombiefied baddie and a host of disposable characters who may or may not make it to the end credits depending on the whim of Anderson’s screenplay. We also get Wentworth Miller onscreen as Chris Redfield, brother to Claire and another character well known to fans of the games. The main body of the movie takes place in a prison facility, long since abandoned and surrounded by a mass of the undead, and it’s an enjoyably familiar siege scenario. When not based in the prison location, the rest of the movie dips slightly but I’d still go so far as to say that this film is a whole heap of fun for those who don’t mind their horror a little bit on the tame side and their movies more stylised than gritty.
Sadly, I’m not up to date with all of the later instalments in the Resident Evil gaming series (I think the last one I played was Resident Evil Zero on the Gamecube and that’s going back a few years) but comments from fans point out that this movie, like those before it, contains many little touches familiar to those who have enjoyed shooting up zombies on their console of choice so that should please the gamers but what of the film fans?
The acting is good, considering that most of the main players involved are simply recreating popular game characters in physical form. Jovovich is great as Alice, and has been since the first movie; a strong, sexy heroine who can surmount seemingly impossible odds and escape perilous situations by the skin of her teeth. Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller do just fine as the Redfield siblings even if they’re not actually that good compared to any standard acting yardsticks. Shawn Roberts is a bit too “Agent Smith” – like as Wesker but I think that may be the way the character was portrayed in the games anyway so that’s not really a major fault.
While the editing and direction may not be as bad as it was in Resident Evil: Apocalypse it’s a slight step down from the work of Russell Mulcahy on Resident Evil: Extinction. Some have complained about the overuse of the slo-mo effects (with most feeling that it is mainly to showcase the 3D for the cinema release) but it’s all done with a sheen and polish that at least gives you some cool movie magic while things sway between the almost-believable and the ridiculous. Most of the effects are well-done and there is there is at least one impressively over the top sequence featuring a character listed as “Axeman” that should entertain the undemanding popcorn muncher (like myself).
Everything else is okay. The soundtrack contains no surprises (if you’re after some delightful, free-form jazz then boy did you pick the wrong movie), the other actors such as Kim Coates and Boris Kodjoe do well enough and stylish action moment follows stylish action moment closely enough to guarantee that you won’t fall asleep during the rare “quieter” moments. A decent addition to the franchise, it’s just a shame that it had to have an ending so clearly paving the way for the next instalment.
DIRECTOR: PAUL W. S. ANDERSON
CAST: MILLA JOVOVICH, ALI LARTER, SHAWN ROBERTS, KIM COATES, WENTWORTH MILLER
RUNTIME: 97 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: UK/ GERMANY/ USA