Saturday, September 18, 2010

618- Resident Evil: Afterlife review

Just a question to get the ball rolling: if the Umbrella Corporation, the malevolent entity behind the destruction of civilization in the “Resident Evil” film series, occupies an earth that has been stripped of life with the exception of its own members, why do they keep experimenting on new drugs? Are their shareholders that dedicated to maintaining stock price?

Forgive me for asking. I was recently telling an old professor that I thought nitpicking plot points was likely the lowest form of film criticism. Anyone can do it, and the practice is often used to inflate the ego rather than to examine the artwork. But a picture like “Resident Evil: Afterlife” looks the viewer in the eye and dares them not to engage in the practice. Nothing makes much sense, and as the body count skyrockets and the slow-motion stretches out the running time by ten percent or so, there’s little else to think about.

The fourth entry in a series thoroughly devoted to impressing every 12-year-old boy on earth, we once again follow Alice, a nigh-invulnerable secret agent/assassin/fashion model/whatever, as she wages war against the Umbrella Corporation and its endless supply of monsters, zombies, and soldiers. Alice is played by Milla Jovovich, a staggeringly gorgeous actress who has played this role so many times that by now she must be nothing short of a world-class expert on firearms and abdominal exercises. She’s directed by her husband, Paul W.S. Anderson, who also wrote the screenplay, and apparently learned at some point that filmmaking at its best consists of beautiful women, gushing blood, and 3D effects (to enhance the childishness). Let him not be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson, the genius auteur behind films such as “Boogie Nights,” “Punch-Drunk Love,” and “There Will Be Blood.” The latter Anderson doesn’t seem to care much about action in his films, but wouldn’t you know it, he actually spends time writing them.

Let me be clear: there’s nothing wrong with movies about gunfights, hot babes, and zombies. Not every movie needs to make even half logical sense, as long as what’s going on feels genuine to the characters. But here, you’d have to ask: what characters? Sure, there literally are characters, such as Alice, her sidekick Claire (Ali Larter), Claire’s brother Chris (Wentworth Miller), NBA star Luther (Boris Kodjoe), and movie producer Bennett (Kim Coates). Take those last two characters: Luther was a superstar athlete before the world fell apart. What might the screenwriter have in mind for this detail? And Bennet was apparently a big shot in the film industry. So some seeds are planted, right? Forgive a minor spoiler: Luther’s celebrity means nothing, and Bennett is apparently just Anderson shooting the bird to old colleagues.

So why should we care? Or, more accurately, why should I care? I don’t, but some will enjoy the relentless violence, the sparkling eye candy, the cheekily ominous tone. I’ve sat through all four of these, and I think I’ve earned a reprieve: count me out of number five.

1.5 out of 5


Will said...

I've already commented on this on your Facebook, so I'll save repeating myself.
I just wanted to say that this trailer really doesn't make me want to watch the movie. At this point I'm surprised they haven't given her wings so she can just fly around the world an shoot stuff from the sky and avoid bullets an zombies miraculously.
It's like the director is a kid playing war with his toys an shouting "Nope! That can't hurt me, I have a shield on!".
When did she learn how to fly a plane?? This really looks like what happens when bullet-time goes bad, an mates with cheesy 3D effects.
Sorry you had to sit through this one man.

James said...

Hey, hazard of the trade! But I'll actually note that I usually enjoy the movies I see, even if I don't like them. The experience of going to the movie and seeing things happen and analyzing what unfolds is itself quite fun.

Will said...

Oh I can agree, I'll watch pretty much anything - I enjoy discussing it with my sister (who is also into films) afterwards. It makes the experience so much better. Not every movie is great, an sometimes the worst ones make for the best discussions.

I saw the horrendous "Thankskilling" with some friends, it made us laugh at how bad it was, and discuss the film while watching it. Definitely made for a pleasurable viewing.