‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ is a Biohazard to Avoid

The fourth installment in the strangely popular Resident Evil movie series, based upon the original Resident Evil video game series continues to baffle me in its ways of being fairly unimaginative and derivative, yet still managing to get a pass from audiences.  But this time it’s in 3-D!  After a brief recap, utilizing the first of many, many slo-mo sequences, making sure that we understand that the world has been overrun by T-Virus infected zombies, the film picks up closely after the end of the third film, with Alice (Milla Jovovich) having both fully realized her enhanced powers and discovered that the evil Umbrella Corporation has a whole fleet of clones of her in one of their underground facilities. We are then treated to an opening action sequence that features many clones of Alice vs. an army of Umbrella security guards and head honcho Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts).  Eventually, the whole sequence comes to a showdown between Wesker and the Original Alice, onboard a helicopter leaving the Umbrella facility, which has been detonated by Wesker in an elaborate use of CG.  The result is Wesker injecting Alice with a syringe that takes away all her special powers, followed immediately by the helicopter crashing.

Alice: The Umbrella Corporation feel safe, they feel secure. They’re wrong.

Some months later, Alice is now on her own, headed to Alaska to find Arcadia, the last refuge, where she believes the few remaining human survivors of earth are located.  Upon arriving in Alaska, Alice finds no one except for a scruffy-looking Ali Larter playing Claire Redfield suffering from some memory loss.  After learning that the others that were with Claire had been kidnapped, the two head out on Alice’s plane to hopefully find more survivors and locate their friends (at some point in time, Claire became mentally stable, found a shower, and did her make-up).  The two eventually wind up in Los Angeles, overrun by the undead (don’t forget, this is a zombie movie to some extent).  They land their plane on the top of a large, secure building, amidst some more survivors, including Claire’s brother – Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), and learn where the real Arcadia is.  However, as difficult a journey as it may be to get to Arcadia, there may be a trap set in motion upon arriving there…

I am sorry to surmise so much of the plot here, but I wanted to have some other things to say before laying out all the negatives.  Basically, I really disliked this movie.  Besides looking expensive throughout and having a face-off with one large, memorable character (the giant, lumbering Axe-Man), there is nothing that stands out or feels original in this film.  All of the action, plotting, and locations feel lifted from other, better movies.  One can say that this is fitting, given that the film is based off a video game series, which is inspired by other forms of popular media.  Well, if this somewhat circular aspect makes you feel better about lame plotting and unimaginative sequences, then have fun with this.

Writer/Director Paul W. S. Anderson, who handled the first film, as well as films like Death Race and the first Mortal Kombat film (which I actually find to still be the best video game movie adaptation), returned to direct this fourth installment, but that didn’t turn out to be quite the “edge” this film needed.  While I always find Anderson’s work solid when it comes to elements like the production design, he’s a terrible writer and storyteller, and this film shows off those aspects once again.  For example, Alice loses her powers early on in this film.  This is something that could easily provide for an interesting character dilemma; however, Alice and the film are basically unaffected by this development.  She continues to be a kick-ass lead character, capable of acrobatics and gunfights made possible via wirework.  There is basically no suspense involving these characters.  If you are Alice or second or third billed in this cast (or named K-Mart), you’ll probably survive; otherwise, your just a poorly developed, lower tiered character that is expendable.

The choice of 3-D is an interesting topic.  As advertised, this movie was filmed using the latest 3-D technology, essentially stating that Jimmy Cameron let Paul borrow some equipment used in Avatar to make his own 3-D experience.  The result is a movie that is certainly better than a fake 3-D movie (upconverted) but doesn’t do much beyond throwing stuff at the screen (sometimes in slo-mo).  It certainly looks fine, but being further immersed in a lame movie is still just being immersed in a lame movie with an added and implied but not necessarily effective “cool” factor.

As a genre film, things fare pretty poorly.  It’s a bad zombie film and a bland sci-fi action film.  The visual effects range from fine to “way too much” CG.  The one memorable fight scene between Alice, Clair, and the lumbering Axe-Man is neat, but in context, why did this happen?  Where did this thing come from?  We only see him wander over and become a threat for no reason.  I understand this as fan service, but it has no real purpose.

It’s tough to say how to think of this film as a video game fan.  Despite the fact that the original film completely ditched the story of the first game and became its own thing, much to the chagrin of many Resident Evil fans, the film has become a successful franchise anyway.  So now, with this film incorporating elements specifically from some of the games, it certainly manages to function like a video game.  There are levels and bosses, not to mention random tasks that need to be completed in order to progress, but even as a gamer, I was fairly unengaged in all the events that were taking place.  I will say that having Wesker play a larger role this time around was fairly entertaining, given that all he did was say cheesy lines and constantly smirk into the camera, but that’s faint praise.  If one wants to see a movie that successfully incorporates video game elements directly into its story and action, see Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

To sum up, this movie has been essentially designed to entertain frequenters of Hot Topic (I tread lightly here, because I’ve bought a few shirts there in the past).  This is basically a messy film that takes a video game premise, adds dark and abstract imagery, features babes with guns, “cool” slo-mo action, and floods the soundtrack with Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle beats.  I can see all of these elements, in some form, plastered on black t-shirts, but for this movie, I wish I could see something more.

Note:  I wonder if a pattern will form for these movies.  The first and third movies are okay (which is more credit than they deserve), but these even numbered entries really suck.

Wesker: Isn’t this a nice family reunion.


Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

20 Responses to “‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ is a Biohazard to Avoid”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    Technically, I’m a fan of the franchise. Yes, I’m like one of the few that actually enjoyed Apocalypse. IDK, I guess I really love the stuntwork and Milla running down the building on a cable is still cool as hell. Go figure.

    We’re seeing this tonight, but if it’s just average, like the rest of the film, I’ll probably like it, so…….

    I’ll keep y’all posted. 😉

  2. Brian White

    Same here. I loved the Hot Topics comment. LOL. I’ll be seeing this in IMAX 3D (rubbing it in for Gerard) and I will most likely comment later!

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Hey, more power to anyone that enjoys this series. I’m just really not a fan of these films.

    I’m sure Sean must have been a fan of the first, since it starred both Milla and Michelle Rodriguez 🙂

  4. Brian White

    Loved it!

    It was exactly what I expected!

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    It was about what I expected to, but I still had small hopes…

  6. Gerard Iribe

    I meant to say that we’ll see it tomorrow night.

  7. Brian White

    It wasn’t quite the ending I was expecting…we can discuss that when everyone esle sees it.

  8. Gregg Senko

    I enjoyed it! I will say I went into this without seeing parts II or III which is not something I usually do. Nevertheless, I found a little lull after the beginning quieted down, but the film picked up and kicked doors down with zombie-hunter fury. The slo-mo’s were a plenty and I enjoyed all of them. Some may find the quantity over the top but I liked how it added to the drama. Great 3D effects and great action! Cheers!

    Aaron, I completely agree with you on a particular item in your article…Mortal Kombat is the best v-game to film transition!

  9. Brian White

    In all honesty, I agree with everything Aaron said above…everything, but I knew going into it exactly what to expect and for once in my life…I was not let down. Gregg points out that little…Yes, I felt it too, but thankfully the movie picked up momentum again, but that ending has me scratching my head because…

  10. Sean Ferguson

    Aaron – I don’t mind Milla but you are correct on my feelings about Michelle in the first one. I think her character name should be “Angry Girl Who Hides Her Feelings But Might Kick Your Butt” for every movie she’s in to make it easier. That way, it’s simplified and you can drop her in any movie all ready to go! By the way, everyone says that the Star Trek movies are only good if they are even numbered (which I don’t agree on) so it’s interesting to read that you think the Resident Evil movies follow the same pattern except for odd numbered movies. I’m not a fan of Zombie movies but my wife loves this series so I’ve seen all of them except for this one and they’re ok but if I want to see some undead killing, I’ll watch Army of Darkness. Ash is my person of choice to kill undead. Hail to the King baby!

  11. Gerard Iribe

    Funny enough, I rank the RE films (without having seen 4 until tonight) in

    1. Extinction
    2. Apocalypse
    3. Resident Evil
    4. ?

    I’m going in reverse order. Although I still dig to a lot.

  12. Aaron Neuwirth

    Thanks for the comments, I kinda pointed this out in the review that no one really loves these movies, but they just get a pass for some reason anyway, so it’s interesting to see that continue. I almost fall into this, because I hate these flicks, but I’ll still see them. I guess it’s the gamer in me that feels I need to represent these films, despite their trend of sucking.

    I hate to lump this into the genre of zombie movies, because these are terrible zombie movies compared to the classics.

    @Gregg glad you agree on Mortal Kombat. I can argue all day for that reasoning.

  13. Gerard Iribe

    Saw this tonight and loved it. It was a lot of fun, and if I didn’t know any better I’d say that they totally revamped our theater for this presentation.

    This movie had great AQ and PQ and the 3-D was great. The movie kicked ass. Did any of you guys stay into the credits? That was pretty unexpected, but a welcome surprise. 😉

    I may catch this again during the week.

    @Aaron, these films can’t really be considered standard zombie fare. They’re based on video games that feature zombies. Catch-22?

  14. Brian White

    You mean the female that showed up in the credits or Milla’s voice echoing at the very end?

    Here’s what I don’t get? So will there be another one? I thought this one was suppose to end the Milla era and the franchise would be rebooted, but with that ending…I am kind of unsure now.

  15. Gerard Iribe

    *SPOILERS* The female that showed up at the end was Jill Valentine. She was in Apocalypse.

    I think it will just start a new trilogy, RE4 being the first of a new set of films. I don’t know why they would even consider rebooting them, because the franchise has always been profitable.

    Funny enough, my new ranking for the franchise goes like this.

    1. Resident Evil: Afterlife
    2. Resident Evil: Extinction
    3. Resident Evil: Apocalypse
    4. Resident Evil

    If they wanted to they could just end it once and for all with the next one. Resident Evil: Endgame

    What do you think?

  16. Brian White

    Yeah, I think they should it end it like that, but i swear I read this was the last of these films and then the 5th would be a complete reboot, but I like your hopes better G!

  17. Gerard Iribe

    I read that Paul WS Anderson said that Extinction would be the end of the (first) trilogy and that Afterlife would be the beginning of a second story arc.

  18. Brian White

    oh…keeping Alice then? Well if that’s the case, right on! What about another Ultraviolet too please?

  19. Gerard Iribe

    I seem to be the only Ultraviolet fan I know of, Brian. Well, that makes us two. lol

    They need to release the UNRATED cut of that film. Bluray only has the theatrical PG-13 version and the unrated one is on standard dvd. /offtopic

    Yeah, Milla has expressed interest in RE5. Paul Anderson could get two different director’s and shoot the next two in 3-D, assuming he didn’t want to come back and direct-like he did with RE2 and RE3.

    That would be awesome.

  20. Aaron Neuwirth

    Ultraviolet? ugh.