Review: ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’

Wasn’t all this going someplace at one time?

After sending all of the survivors off in a helicopter to parts unknown, Alice (Milla Jovovich) and a regiment of her clones strike at the heart of the Umbrella Corporation Tokyo facility in an effort to finally destroy villain Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), but the original Alice barely escapes… and without her T-Virus powers. Six months later, Alice tracks the survivors only to find Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) barely functional and starts tracking a new signal to Los Angeles. Meeting more survivors, the remains of humanity try to figure out their next move before everything is finally lost forever.

Give writer and director Paul W.S. Anderson credit for creating massive set pieces and high concept story, but why can’t he get the details and in-between bits right? The original Resident Evil film was full of mythology, complexity, and crunchy zombie goodness, not to mention a skin-crawling soundtrack by Marilyn Manson. As the series has wound on, the story has been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator to reach the widest possible audience. This latest film is a nice half-reboot, but the story is still all over the place as much as it’s over the top; the 3D was better than I’ve seen with films that have added it as an after-thought but was ultimately about as effective as passing out scratch and sniff stickers on the way into the theater (“Ooh, that’s what Ali Larter smells like when she’s wet!”)

The series has long departed from any semblance of the original games at this point, so any excuse to point the finger at a bad quarter-sucking story is moot. Like a ripoff of the James Bond franchise, each opening of these films seems to recap the end of the last mission before setting up the next cliffhanger (and this one does end on big one that really didn’t have to.) Thanks to CGI, Milla Jovovich looks no worse or slower as she’s aged, but as the star attraction of this high-tech zombie virus apocalypse epic, shouldn’t all this be leading somewhere by now? Umbrella Island? Sea base Umbrella? Drax’s orbiting space platform?

Try as one might, there’s no good reason to give this a pass. It’s a mess, clearly incomplete, yet still pretty to look at. What hurts the most is the wasted potential of having these great physical actresses (rare in the action genre), top-notch special effects, an entire world going to Hell in a hand basket, and virtually nothing for a coherent plot. At this point, why not have Alice and Claire trapped in time like “Sliders,” going from dimension to dimension fighting zombies, or escape into space to join up with Jason X? The mind boggles at all of the incredible things these two women could be doing in wet, dirty clothes.

(a one and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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