Sunday, September 12, 2010

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife

As a longtime follower of the Bio Hazard/ Resident Evil series, I wasn't the biggest fan of Paul W.S Anderson's movie adaptations. Right from the start of the first movie, the plot strayed away greatly from what was established by the games, instead giving moviegoer folks a shoddy "Hollywood treatment" of the game that was more survival action than survival horror. Yes, I didn't think of it as a true Resident Evil movie, and I'm still waiting for the day Capcom will actually commission a true adaptation to made.

Resident Evil: Afterlife Trailer

However, I must point out that despite all its inconsistencies and discrepancies, the universe Paul W.S Anderson has crafted for his vision of Resident Evil has remained remarkably consistent with each and every sequel chugged out in the market. His wife, actress Milla Jovovich, has remained the central figure throughout the movies, and although it's an original character put together for the movie, she does interact with the primary figures headlining the games, such as the Redfield siblings, Jill Valentine, and even main antagonist Albert Wesker. Their characterizations in the film universe are barely similar to their video game counterparts though, and I won't go into details on how they differ. All that I can say is that they're pretty unique for the movies, so they can be considered "alternate universe" counterparts to the ones fans know and love in the games, and that even includes the zombies and monstrosities created by the Umbrella Corporation, who continue to be pests and targets for a bullet regardless.

Movie: Resident Evil: Afterlife

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Carter, Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts

Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

Ok, so on to the movie itself, Resident Evil: Afterlife - Is it watchable? Absolutely with a resounding YES. I enjoyed every bit of this film as I did with the previous RE films, and there is continuity here, picking right after the cliffhanger ending presented in the last movie, Resident Evil: Extinction. Alice (Milla Jovovich) leads an army of her own clones into the Tokyo branch of the Umbrella Corporation, hell bent on exacting revenge for their transgressions against her and the entire human race. Their target is none other than the cool and calculating Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), who is the chairman and head of the organization itself. After laying waste to the facility, the clones are still nevertheless killed off by Wesker, and he makes his escape in timely fashion via stealth jet. Unfortunately, Alice stows away onboard, and tried to deliver the coup de' grace, only to be foiled and depowered by an antidote delivered by Wesker. A crash landing saves Alice from certain death, and with Wesker nowhere to be found in the wreckage, she is forced to embark on another journey for survival. Months later, Alice follows the trail of her friends who separated from her in the last flick, journeying all the way to Alaska to find the mysterious "Arcadia" - a haven for survivors and free from infection. What she finds however is an abandoned field filled with empty planes, and it is here where her adventure to uncover answers and the truth begins anew.

I pretty much gave away the beginning of the movie, so that's all the SPOILERS I'll be sharing. All I'll do now is comment on the actors playing important roles and how they fared in this movie. For Ms. Jovovich, she still manages to capture audiences in the game with her portrayal of Alice, and not much has changed with her character other than being depowered for this newest installment in the movie series. I suppose it's a way to ground her and keep her human for the audience to relate to her better and not look at her as some superpowered individual who can lay waste to the biohazard threats in her way in an instant. That said, she did have those skills in hand for the past two films prior to this, so its a refreshing change that adds a new layer of challenge to her character. The other female lead, Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), also returns to lend her support, but has a slight problem she has to overcome since her reintroduction as the movie progresses. Midway, audiences will finally be introduced to the movie incarnation of the Bio Hazard/ Resident Evil main hero - Chris Redfield, hardened soldier and older brother to Claire. Played by Wentworth Miller of Prison Break series fame, his characterization here bares a closer resemblance to the one featured in Resident Evil 5, and that's no coincidence considering the game did so well (sales wise) back when it was released in 2009. I'm not a big fan of how RE5 went down as a game story wise, but it was still fun to play nevertheless, and it influenced the way things ran in RE: Afterlife, right down to the Plagas creatures and Executioner making an appearance as threats in this movie. How they came into the picture, however, was never explained, so I assume they were added for the RE5 crowd's viewing pleasure.

Oh, and let's not forget about Albert Wesker, who was downright awesome and pretty close to his RE5 character in this movie. He walked the walk and talked the talk like any badass bad guy, and in some way, the actor who played him here kinda reminded me of Hugo Weaving and his role of Agent Smith in the Matrix films. Of  course, that idea was reinforced by Wesker's superhuman abilities, which he used in the games and in this movie to great effect against the heroes in the final battle, so there's some elements like this that did carry over from the games to the movies at least.

Bottomline, as a Resident Evil guy who has come to accept the existence of the Anderson films, I'd recommend watching Afterlife if you've already followed the series from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed it,  and I liked the fact that there was continuity despite it being vastly different from the story that was presented in the games. It's a direct continuation of everything, and it would be a shame to skip this as it continues the story well and through. I can't say the same for newcomers, but if you enjoy action and zombies, this one's got everything, and a ton of no sense B-Movie plotlines you won't have to take seriously. Do note that there's an after credits post scene, so don't just leave when the credentials start rolling. This is one of the better popcorn flicks to watch for this month, so if you don't have anything better to do and want some action, go for this in theaters.

Rating - 4/5

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