Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In short: Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

An army of Milla Jovovichs (realized surprisingly badly for a film made in 2010) attacks the headquarters of the Evil Umbrella Corp in Tokyo to finally take her (their) revenge on her arch enemy Wesker (Shawn Roberts). After laying waste to half of Tokyo, possibly killing Wesker in a plane crash and losing her superpowers (not that the film seems to want to remember that for much of its running time), the original Milla (or Alice, if you need character names in a film without characterization) tries to follow her companions from the last movie into a paradise known as Arcadia, supposedly located somewhere in Alaska. Upon arrival in the North, our heroine finds only a bunch of abandoned planes and helicopters, and her friend Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) who must have been lying on the ground, outside, in Alaska, in the snow, for a few months but is only suffering from PCA (short for plot-convenient amnesia).

Together they fight crime fly to an unnamed (I think; going by Resident Evil naming conventions it's probably called Squirrel) Big City, because that's the place where you want to be during the zombie apocalypse. The two women manage to hook up with another handful of survivors (Boris Kodjoe, Kim Coates and some other people sure to be eaten soon) who hide in a prison, and keep Claire's brother Chris (Wentworth Miller) prisoner there for reasons that will never make much sense (what a surprise), staring longingly at a ship anchored outside the city. A ship named Arcadia. Obviously, the zombies and their friends will soon get into the prison, but Chris knows a way out.

As someone who more than just sort of digs survival horror games as one of the few console-centric videogame genres close to his PC gamer heart, I do of course have my experiences with the Resident Evil games, which are the most low-brow and (alas) most successful series of their genre. I'm not madly in love with the series (that's what Silent Hill and Fatal Frame/Project Zero are for, after all), but I do respect its peculiar mixture of baroquely ridiculous and stupid plots and senseless violence. Although every new iteration of the series' movie adaptations has less to do with the games it is supposedly based on, their "writer" and (sometimes) director Paul W.S. Anderson uses all his powers of stupidity to keep his work as much in the dumb but bizarre spirit of the games as a Brit adapting a Japanese source can.

Still, stupidity and all, the first three Resident Evils didn't manage to charm me. There was always something artificial about their dumbness that managed to keep the films less fun than they should have been. This tragic state of affairs ends with this fourth film. Finally, the dumbness (as demonstrated by the idiotic plot - if you want to call it that, the non-characters non-acted by people who could act a little if they wanted to, the unbelievably absurd dialogue, and the mind-blowingly stupid use of slow motion and freeze effects as if The Matrix had never gone out of style) reaches critical mass and transforms what could be just another crap film by Anderson (whose Event Horizon I'll always cherish as actually nearly very good) into a movie so enthusiastically bad yet aiming to please that only those most soulless of creatures known as mainstream film critics could not appreciate its spirit of fun.

Needless to say, I sort of love it.



Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, your review makes me actually WANT to see the new Resident Evil flick. Especially now that I know it's just an inadvertenty hilarious drinking game movie.

and Event Horizon? Best bad movie ever!

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

Well, then my mission seems to be accomplished.