Resident Evil: Afterlife
Film review by: Witney Seibold
How is it that I’ve seen all four of these?
“Resident Evil: Afterlife” is just as wild, just as ridiculous, and just as dumb as its three predecessors. It’s a post-apocalypse movie that has monsters, zombies, vampires, clones, exploding techno-labs, and the lithe Milla Jovovich getting into numerous gun battles with each. It features a scene where a light plane has to land on the roof of a skyscraper, which was a lot more exciting in “Escape from New York.” And it features some of the most incomprehensible plotting this side of a video game. Oh wait. This series of films was based on a video game. Sigh.
In “Resident Evil,” an evil virus, The T-Virus, made by the evil Umbrella corporation, was released into an underground technolab, turning the hundreds of people working there into zombies. The purpose of this virus was, I dunno, to make eternal life or something. A team of soldiers as sent into the technolab to investigate, and was attacked by the zombies. O.k. I’m still with you. Danger in an enclosed space. Also, the technolab itself began to sprout a consciousness or something, and also attacked people. O.k. Still there. Also, the T-Virus also managed to, very quickly, evolve into giant clawed monsters with big lashing tongues. Um… O.k. Whatever. I’ve seen sillier stuff. Jovovich, the series’ star, plays Alice, a memory-lapsed badass who plays into Umbrella’s plan somehow.
In “Resident Evil: Apocalypse,” the T-Virus spread out of the technolab, and onto the surface of the Earth. It spread into Raccoon City, USA, which the Umbrella corporation has walled off using its own private military force. O.k. Still with you. Alice begins to fight zombies, and finds she has superpowers or something. Um… O.k. I guess that’s fine. It turns out the T-Virus can turn you into a superhero sometimes. What a handy McGuffin. Alice ends up fighting a giant mutant with a bazooka, who was once her friend, but the T-Virus can also make giant mutants with bazookas. I think we’re tipping. By the film’s end, the Umbrella military has shot and killed hundreds of innocents, and Alice escapes in a helicopter.
In “Resident Evil: Extinction,” (which would naturally have to come after the apocalypse), the T-Virus has spread over the entire world, and 95% of the people have died or been zombified. That’s it. World’s over. Alice is now a road warrior type who hooks up with Ali Larter and a cadre of roving uninfected. They long to reach Alaska, where there might be an enclave of unifected people and no zombies. This is familiar post-apocalypse stuff, and I’m back on board, even after the bazooka supermutant. It turns out, though, that the evil Umbrella corporation still has several underground technolabs, and are sucking up a lot of juice to have holographic board meetings, and waste a lot of time conducting cloning experiments. Yes, it turns out that all this time Umbrella just wanted a race of supersoldiers. You’d think, with most of the world wiped out, they’d be using their resources to, I dunno, rebuild society is some capacity. But no. Sueprsoldiers are on the front burner. Perhaps this is a comment on bureaucracy run amok, but these films aren’t that smart.
Oh, and Alice still has superpowers, and she’s being cloned, and the evil Umbrella people are… oh never mind.
And now we come to “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” (which is the only place to go after extinction), and it’s just as dumb as what you’ve read so far.
I will concede that “Afterlife,” does have a pretty solid and enjoyable second act, where a group of survivors are hiding out inside a Hollywood prison (Hollywood has a maximum security penitentiary in this universe), and have to use their smarts and resourcefulness to stay calm and sane in a city choked with zombies. For a few brief, flickering moments, this film is actually kind of human.
But then you remember the film’s first act, and it all begins to fade. Alice and her hundreds of clone infiltrate an Umbrella superlab under Tokyo, and try to kill the film’s bad guy, an insufferable douche named Bennet (Kim Coates). All but the original dies, and the bad guy sails off in his superhelicopter. Oh, and the Alice finds Ali Larter from the last film, but, thanks to a technobug that’s stuck to her chest, she has lost her memory. I’m sure there are plenty of viewers who wish they could also erase their memories of “Resident Evil: Extinction.”
Then there’s the humane second act. This film was shot in 3-D, and so we are treated to the predictable zombie-brains-flying-right-into-your-face rigmarole, which is actually kind of fun, although not exploited nearly enough. There’s another nine-foot supermutant in this film, this time with a giant axe, and there’s no explanation as to why it’s there. Also, the zombies learn to burrow, and end up borrowing into the prison.
Then there’s a third act which is just as insane as the first. The surviving heroes make it to a giant ship off the coast. It turns out the city in Alaska where the infection was rumored not to be, was actually this aircraft carrier patrolling the coast. It turns out, though (and if you really don’t want the ending spoiled, stop reading), that the Umbrella people built this aircraft carrier to harvest survivors for more fekking supersoldier experiments!Sigh. Bennet is also on the ship. Ali Larter’s brother (Wentworth Miller) is also there. Bennet has monster dogs, and he’s a vampire now, and wants to eat Alice. Alice doesn’t have superpowers anymore (she was cured in the beginning), so she has to fight an evil zombie vampire monster whatever.
The film also ends on a cliffhanger, which means we’ll be treated to a fifth of these things. Will I see it? I declare I won’t, but just wait for my review of it.
“Resident Evil” is often declared the better of the video game film adaptations. Most video games these days all take their conceits from genre films, so it baffles me as to why turning a game back into a film would be such a dodgy proposition. But there you have it. This messy, ridiculous mass of flailing zombie limbs is the forerunner of the genre. If you like zombie films that you can snicker at and don’t mind paying the extra money for the 3-D glasses, then I think you might find a perverse pleasure in “Resident Evil: Afterlife.” There are indeed some perverse pleasure to be had. But only perverse ones.