The Resident Evil franchise is a series I nearly gave up on had it not been for my friend Susan’s advice to me in 2008. You see, quite honestly, I take my films very seriously and well, Resident Evil movies just didn’t cut it for me. I was just not able to take the lunacy, stupidity and over-the-top nature of them. Resident Evil: Extinction was that final nail in the coffin. I liked the first film, hated the second outing and just thought the third one was okay. But what was really wrong with me? I’ll tell you what it was…I forgot how to have fun in life. I forgot how to not be serious all the time. I mean after all, I liked Crank, so what was my deal? Susan opened my eyes up to this world as she encouraged me to take a closer look at these films and to see them how her husband views them…purely as entertainment. I embraced Susan’s encouraging words and took a leap of faith. The trilogy set eventually became my Valentine’s Day gift in 2008 (isn’t that sweet?) and I never looked back. I found a way to appreciate these films and have fun with them while looking past everything else (I’m not perfect). Thanks Susan!
The Paul W.S. Anderson film takes place four years after the events in Extinction. It stars the familiar faces of his wife Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter and Prison Break star, newcomer Wentworth Miller. The action is relentless right from the start as Alice (Milla) and her army (clones of herself) invade and topple the evil Umbrella Corporation’s underground headquarters in Tokyo. I’m going out on a limb here and I’m assuming everyone reading this review is at least familiar with the first three films. If you remember anything about the last film in the series, then you should at least remember how it ended. Right? Well just in case you need a swift kick to the you know what, let me jar your memory cells real quick. Alice had just found all the clones made in her likeness, discovered her new magical powers and vowed to topple Umbrella’s underground Tokyo fortress. Hence, how this film started. Alright, now that we are all acquainted here, let’s move on.
It should be also noted, unless I’m mistaken, the Resident Evil films are the most successful movies to ever be adapted from a video game franchise. While the first three don’t follow any strict video game storylines, elements from the Resident Evil 5 game have been incorporated into this film. So anyway, after Alice successfully brings down the Tokyo headquarters, she is presented with her first major dilemma in this film. She loses all those supernatural and incredible powers she has. Arch enemy Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) successfully kills all the T-virus cells that gives Alice her strength, speed, agility and any other miscellaneous abilities she has yet to fully discover, thus effectively rendering Alice as human as you or I. Sucks for Alice, huh?
So here’s where the meat and potatoes of our story really begins. Things get to look a bit dismal for Alice as she ventures to Alaska to find her friend Claire Redfield (Larter) and the other survivors (you need to have seen Extinction to understand why she is here) who were all promised a better way of life following a beacon to a mythical place referred to as Arcadia. Upon arrival she finds nothing but desolate and barren land void of any signs of life. What happened to everybody? Well I’m glad you asked that. Maybe Claire can shed some light on the matter. So here we go, reunited and ah…it feels so good. The two best buds venture out looking for any signs of survivors and of course, kicking zombie a$$ every chance they get. This ladies and gentlemen is the setup for Resident Evil: Afterlife. Proceed with caution, as you never know when you might need to draw your pistol to take out an infected T-virus zombie.
The Resident Evil films, as I come to know, understand and love them, need to be taken with a grain of salt. If you try to take them too seriously, then you end up messed up like I was in life. Not messed up in a bad way, but messed up because I did not know how to have fun with these movies. It’s like Fight Club. You know how they say you are truly not free until you lost everything? Lose everything here. Leave all your cares outside. Sit down with these films and enjoy them like they were meant to be. They have the ability to become quite the guilty pleasure if you choose to let them. Lose yourself in the moment, Eminem, and enjoy life. See. Don’t you feel better now?
Say what you want about Afterlife, it’s pure eye candy with a pretty weak story, but it’s the visuals and fun had within that keep me coming back for more here. You won’t see me give anyone of these Resident Evil films a score above 3, but you will hear me admit to liking them very much. So much in fact, that I hope to one day too make my own zombie film. I mean, that’s every filmmaker’s dream right? Anyway, Resident Evil: Afterlife was released in the theaters this September in both 2D and 3D. I was lucky enough to catch it in an IMAX 3D release. The 3D effect was okay, but you will never hear me praise it. So with that being said, you should know that Resident Evil: Afterlife is hitting the Blu-ray format in both 2D and 3D versions. Since you will never see me concede to downgrading my home entertainment system just to play a 3D Blu-ray (can someone say gimmick?), I obviously chose the 2D version to review below. So besides the a$$-kicking good time you will have with this 96-minute flick, let’s peer under the microscope and see how this 2D Blu-ray release really looks under the surface. You ready?
Here’s where things really get good with Resident Evil: Afterlife on Blu-ray. The 1080p video transfer is absolutely gorgeous. I wouldn’t even want to touch this in a 3D environment. Forget those glasses! Everything is exactly as it should be and the high-definition resolution only makes Milla that much more appealing as she pulls off one death-defying stunt after another. The AVC MPEG-4 video encode transfer is framed in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Black levels are all deep, colors are vibrant and sharp, detail is crisp and skin tones all look normal. In other words, the video here is almost perfect. What holds it back slightly is the blurriness accompanied by a few heavy CG shots, but c’mon, that’s to be expected for a picture of this type and magnitude. You can’t fault it too much. One of my favorite scenes on this Blu-ray is the blinding brightness upon the Arcadia vessel. It makes you feel like you are experiencing the light. As Borat would say, “Very nice!”
If the video does not blow you away, then Afterlife’s audio most definitely will. Wow! This is one hell of a wake the dead a$$-kicking audio experience reckoning to be had. Your surround sound system will be sore for days after the workout it will receive here. The main entrée here is a whopping helping of 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound. The techno beats pound hard and viciously throughout. The LFE will rock your house here. Take all the good paintings off the wall. You can thank me later. Glass, carnage and debris explode all around you as you duck trying not to get hit by any stray bullets. I think I actually felt cold air blow on me several times when Tokyo fell down. The spoken dialogue is all clear and intelligible. I can’t think of a single negative thing to say here, so you know what that means? That’s right, we have a reference disc rating score of a 5 here. Simply put, this soundtrack is dope, yo.
Subtitles are available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Portuguese listeners can also enjoy this track in lossless audio with the 5.1 DTS-HAD MA mix. A 5.1 mix is found here for French and Spanish customers.
On the back of the box, the Special Features don’t look like much, but didn’t your momma ever tell you not to judge a book by its cover? Don’t worry. Mine didn’t either. But honestly, when you pull back the layers here, there’s really more than meets the eye (I borrowed that line from somewhere…I just know…LOL). And thankfully, since you are watching the Blu-ray format, ALL the Special Features are in HD! Thank the Gods! Check out all the goodies you will find on this disc below.
- Undead Vision: Picture-in-Picture (HD, 1:36) – It’s always nice to see and hear Milla talking to me while watching Resident Evil: Afterlife. What more can a guy ask for? While the film plays there is a little window in the lower right hand side of the screen. Paul W.S. Anderson talks about how advantageous it is being the writer of the film because he gets a lot of extra pre-production time that most ordinary directors never get. Brilliant man! There’s no question about it. If you are a fan of the film, then you must watch this! Love it!
- Commentary with Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson, Producer Jeremy Bolt and Producer Robert Kulzer – Do you really need to ask me what happens here? LOL.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 6:48) – There are a total of eight scenes here all in glorious HD! If you like these kind of treasures, what more could you ever ask for? There’s a choice to Play All.
- Outtakes (HD, 4:30) – These are always my favorite! It looks like a fun time on the set! It was funny to watch them toss and catch guns. And there’s always my favorite, the shower scene.
- Featurettes (HD, 47:33) – There are a total of seven featurettes in all here: “Back Under the Umbrella: Directing Afterlife,” “Band of Survivors: Casting Afterlife,” “Undead Dimension: Resident Evil in 3D,” “Fighting Back: The Action of Afterlife,” “Vision of the Apocalypse: The Design of Afterlife,” “New Blood: The Undead of Afterlife” and “Pwning the Undead: Gamers of the Afterlife.” There’s of course, a choice to Play All. Interestingly enough, this was Paul W.S. Anderson’s favorite movie making experience of them all. Don’t all Directors say this? But seriously, it was cool to learn how he became involved with the Resident Evil franchise. There’s some really good stuff to be found here!
- Sneak Peek of Resident Evil: Damnation (HD, 1:10) – Turn your volume down here. Seriously! The audio is insanely loud! This is a preview for the new original CG motion picture.
- Previews (HD) – The following movie trailers can be found here: Piranha 3D, Salt, Takers, The Social Network, The Virginity Hit, Faster, Animal Kingdom, Justified, Ticking Clock, Game of Death. Now is it just I or is this an insane amount of movie previews to have? Wow!
As you prepare for the onslaught in your lliving room that only Resident Evil: Afterlife on the Blu-ray format can deliver, let’s recap all the highlights as to why your going to click the link below and pre-order this title. First there’s Milla and Ali. There are zombies. Did I already mention Milla and Ali? Oh wait! Did I mention how good Milla and Ali look here kicking zombie a$$ everywhere they go? Well I did now! And if that’s not enough, how about that audio? What? You can’t hear me? No need to turn it up, Afterlife will melt and push all that earwax right out. And oh yeah, do you want some HD Resident Evil: Afterlife goodies? Then look no further than aisle 8 in the Special Features department. As you can clearly see, there are many reasons why you should be bring home Resident Evil: Afterlife on Blu-ray next week (December 28th). Make us proud. Support our troops. Pre-order today!