Monday, September 13, 2010
There's a saying that you can only polish a turd so much. With Resident Evil: Afterlife, writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson puts that theory to the test. This is one stupid, incoherent movie, but Anderson directs with such energy and style that it seems silly to care. The moment your brain gets a chance to slow down and think about what it's seeing the whole thing collapses like a house of cards. Anderson does his best to insure that never happens with one superbly staged action scene after another. The movie slows down for just enough plot and character beats to give the film a sense of pacing.
This all takes place on beautifully designed sets where series mainstay Alice (Milla Jovovich) does battle with nifty looking monsters while decked out in this season's hottest action heroine threads to the tune of tomandandy's driving electronic score. I vaguely remember Alice discovering a bunch of clones of herself at the end of the last movie, and the sequel picks up from there. My memory banks evidently refused to store much else about the series, but it hardly matters. All you need to know is zombies and corporations bad, Milla good.
Jovovich isn't called on to act much here. All that's needed to sell her character is attitude and presence, two attributes she has in spades. Ali Larter (Heroes) returns from the previous film as Claire Redfield, and Wentworth Miller debuts as Claire's brother Chris, a familiar name to fans of the video games these movies are loosely based on. Heading up the forces of evil is Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker. It's rare these days to see an actor fearlessly go for the cheesy gusto like Roberts does here, at least outside of Nicholas Cage or a John Waters movie.
Afterlife doesn't take itself seriously, but at the same time it's not going out of its way to wink at the audience. Eventually the plot holes and absurdities pile up to the point that they can't be ignored, but then Andesron hits you with another well executed action scene. It's not enough to make Afterlife's litany of cinematic sins completely forgivable, but it does temper one's view of the film. It also helps that the 3D is done so well. This is no post production conversion to the format like Piranha or Clash of the Titans. This movie was planned and shot in 3D from the get-go, and it shows. It may not be quite as jaw droppingly amazing as Avatar, but for a relatively low budget B-movie, it's pretty damn impressive. 2 ½ out of 4 stars.