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John’s Horror Corner: Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), yup… Milla Jovovich and her clones are back to killing even more zombies.

March 7, 2017

MY CALL:  The Matrix trilogy and Guillermo del Toro’s slack-jawed tentacle-vampires meet Silent Hill in this least entertaining Resident Evil sequel.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Resident EvilResident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Doom (2005), the Silent Hill movies (2006, 2012) and the Underworld franchise (2003-2017) come to mind.  For a fine ratings vs earnings comparison of the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises check this feisty article out.

Paul W. S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Soldier) returns to the beloved Zompocalypse franchise and, apparently, he thought he was directing a Matrix sequel. No sooner are we re-acquainted with Alice (Milla Jovovich; The Fifth Element, Resident Evil 1-3, Ultraviolet) than we see her in Blade II ninja gear running across walls and spiraling through the air dodging slow-motion machine gun fire as bullet casings rain to the ground, their chiming on the floor punctuated by the hum of her twin katanas as she minces her way through dozens of Umbrella SWAT guards.

Coming after Wesker (Shawn Roberts; xXx: The Return of Xander Cage) at the Tokyo Umbrella headquarters, Alice has come full-force with twin Uzis, a leather and tights ensemble, and—as she promised at the end of Extinction—a whole bunch of her(s).  Despite the impressively attractive army of Jovo-clones, her plan backfires when Wesker neutralizes her T-virus; stripping her of her superpowers.

The franchise has taken us from the heart of Raccoon City to the Las Vegas desert and now we are swept to the beautiful Alaskan wilderness where the now human Alice is reacquainted with Claire (Ali Larter; House on Haunted Hill, Final Destination 1-2, Resident Evil: Extinction), and off to a dilapidated Hollywood where several survivors (including a slimy Kim Coates; Sons of Anarchy, Innocent Blood) have taken refuge in a prison besieged by zombies.

As the franchise progresses, so does the virus.  The hastened zombies now have quad-unhinging tentacle jaws (like Blade II’s vampire meets Hellboy’s Sammael; both predating Afterlife) and are joined by a giant axe-wielding hooded ogre (think Silent Hill’s pyramid head; also predating Afterlife).  It looks cool but both the film and the monsters execute poorly.

Despite all the action (and there’s a lot), the quality of the special effects seem to have dropped considerably since Extinction and I was unimpressed with the explosions and fights.  I’m not sure if this was an actual budget issue, or if Anderson dedicated so much attention to how this would look in 3-D that he never stopped to consider how it would look on a television.  Perhaps it was all much prettier with red and blue glasses on the big screen…?

Alice and Claire fight the giant ogre mutant and, outside of the monster looking cool, it bored me.  Yes, there was slow-motion giant axe-throwing, slow-motion water pipes bursting and slow-motion sliding across the wet floor by soaking wet ladies.  But I’ve got news for you, Anderson, slow-motion does not equal good.  It’s a shame, too.  Anderson clearly tried to make this a worthy rollercoaster of excitement to follow up parts 1-3…but…Alice running in slow-motion through a field of head-bursting zombies with quarter-roll buckshot just isn’t doing it for me. I miss Russell Mulcahy (Razorback, Highlander 1-2, Resident Evil: Extinction)…can we bring him back?

Dodging slow-motion bullets and sunglasses, the black leather-clad Wesker goes full-on Agent Smith, hellbent on “consuming” Alice as she is—wait for it—“the one” who can help him tame the T-virus. #MatrixEyeRoll

The highlights of this movie include the sheer fun of an army of Alices in the opening sequence, gorgeous shots of Alaska, the crisp sweeping interior shots of the ship Arcadia’s lower research decks, and the return of the weirder-than-ever zombie dogs.  The story is developed a bit and we are introduced to the Umbrella heart spiders, but nothing feels further explained; another weak point of this installment.

I have had a blast revisiting parts 1-3. However, I can comfortably say that this Zombiegeddon sequel was by far the least gratifying and least entertaining.

Resident Evil is like the Fast and Furious franchise of horror action in that they are always already planning on part 5 before part 4 hits theaters; complete with closing scenes revealing premise points with future villains.  Watch out for the Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory; Resident Evil: Apocalypse, The Time Machine) stinger at the end—as every other Resident Evil film has so far to harbinger its soon-to-come sequel.

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