Resident Evil: Afterlife

1 out of 5

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Wow. I am incredibly tolerant of crap as long as it entertains. I also love Milla, and have been a fan of Paul W. S. Andersons film progression. But someone got distracted with this fourth entry in the series. RE 1 was a pleasant surprise. Still one of the best video game adaptations, and besides some budget constraints, also a successful corridor-confined action / horror thing. RE 2 was silly, but got some atmosphere pieces down, and built up to a great looking bad guy. RE 3 made everything dirty and gritty and backed it up with a great set – the desert. So… this new entry… almost seems to want to grab the good bits from each, upping the ante by reuniting the series with its original director AND being in true 3D. But it never gels. Theres nothing outright bad, theres just nothing that fully works. The pace is stuttering. Anderson wants you to linger on some 3D scenery but it comes across as empty screen time. Pieces are stitched together to lead up to battles that are over before they begin. Dialogue has never been the series strong point, but here conversations/plot points make leaps in logic for… time constraints? that couldve been better spent on establishing mood. Things happen for no reason except, possibly, to reference the game. This will be better as a home viewing, probably, but I felt nothing in the theater. Not bored, or numbed, or excited, just curious as to why they put this together the way they did, from the trying-too-hard opening up through the unexciting conclusion. And Andersons chops as an action director seemed to be forgotten to play with his new 3D toy. On the plus side, Millas screen presence as a heroine has grown. Her dominance / talent in the group scenes is especially apparent. (As a last note – the color when I saw this was very drab. I know nothing about digital projection, so I cannot say if that was the films fault or the theaters but it was distracting.)

Update, years later:

3 out of 5

I finally convinced myself to rewatch this, in sequence with the others, and my past self’s suspicion that home viewing might be better holds much truth.  I agree with my former criticisms – that the pace of the film is strangely subdued, and that big moments are over as soon as they begin, and the 3D pandering, and I’d also add that tomandandy’s score feels wholly discordant with the movie – but, noting I watched this as a regular, non-3D edition, the lack of that distraction makes a huge difference, and cues you in to the absurd camp Anderson has woven in to the film.  All of those big action pieces are hilariously ridiculous, Zak Snyder-ed in slo-mo for Paul to highlight his wife’s badass glory.  Which Milla absolutely brings to the table once more, her every shot and kick executed with the utmost gusto.  The design of the film remains odd – a lot of waaay open space (…even accepting that that was Paul trying to milk the most out of 3D it feels off), and an unfortunate digital wash to the whole thing (…that doesn’t cover up some rough CG here and there; background material suggest this was a film largely shot against green screen) – but it goes to the cheeky vibe of the whole thing.  Coming off of two okay sequels, the series does feel a lot more confident back in Paul’s hands, and embraced for its silliness, has a sense of fun burbling ‘neath the zombie growlings and shotgun blasts that makes it pretty enjoyable to watch.

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