Tuesday, 28 September 2010
FILM REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE 3D
Sony Pictures Releasing
By Guest Reviewer A.J. Smith
Milla Jovovich is back as Alice (and her army of clones) in the fourth entry in the popular video game-to-movie franchise, kicking zombie butt while bringing down the shady Umbrella Corporation.
Opening with a spectacular sequence set in and below Tokyo, Afterlife introduces Umbrella’s evil Chairman, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), a prominent character from the fifth game incarnation. Everything feels promising due to the clever use of filmed (not awful post-converted) 3D and imaginative camera angles, however what eventuates is a series of slickly delivered, light horror thrills accompanied by pumping industrial techno music.
The plot mainly consists of the survivors seeking sanctuary in ‘Arcadia’; a recorded radio broadcast telling them it is infection-free from the spreading T-virus which has ravaged the world, released by Wesker for his own mysterious agenda.
Being a fan for years of the video games, I was excited to finally see Wesker on the big screen, but the general lack of characterisation left me disappointed. Not being familiar with the video games will leave the audience confused as plot points and events from the video games go unexplained, although one knows that Wesker is evil because he wears his sunglasses *gasp* inside.
Also returning to the franchise, and to the director’s chair after producing two sequels, is Paul W. S. Anderson, Jovovich’s real-life partner. Jovovich is never really pushed for a great performance during the film’s 97-minute runtime, and an engaging performance is vital now that Alice has been chemically downgraded to a human again. Sure, she still looks amazing and gracefully energetic in action sequences but Anderson is so preoccupied with the new 3D technology that all we are left with is what I call ‘eyebrow acting’- expressionless faces delivering dialogue while only managing to move said facial features.
A movie in this genre needs to not take itself too seriously and Afterlife does. Three attempts at intentional humour fall flat with only one hitting the mark but most laughs are derived from Wentworth Miller’s clumsy attempt at bringing the video game’s coolest character, Chris Redfield, to life. Obvious continuity errors throughout don’t help matters, either. Thankfully, thrills from mutating undead and a giant axe-wielding zombie (the video game’s difficult end-of-stage boss) occur often enough to keep us chomping on our popcorn.
There is something amiss when the video game has more excitement and story during the in-between stage footage than a big budget movie, but most audiences will forgive Anderson and cast as it basically delivers on its promise of fast-paced horror-action in impressive 3D. Maybe fifth time’s a charm?