Animadversion: Resident Evil Afterlife 3-D – By Kamran Jawaid and Farheen Jawaid

Published 26th September 2010, in Dawn Newspaper’s iMAGES on Sunday in MKJ and FJ’s column Animadversion. Below is the untouched version. Links to the version published are below.

Resident-Evil-Afterlife-3D

Coin-Shooting Guns, Zombie-Apocalypse and Ultra Slow-Motion

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

Bullets, expensive eye-wear, and giant mallets fly to the viewer with little story and much 3-D slow-motion in "Resident Evil Afterlife", the fourth continuation of the saga that began eight years back with the adaptation of "Resident Evil" video games. By now "Resident Evil" has few places left to go in search of unlaundered material. Or maybe it doesn’t feel the need to. Almost all films in the franchise run on energy, enthusiasm or self-indulging exuberance – which mind you, is heightened to uber-cool status in "Afterlife".

The only hampered player, apart from protagonist Alice (Milla Jovovich) – now de-super powered to human status from her impermeable self – is an unexplored story-arc. Like "Extinction" – the previous part of the franchise – think of "Afterlife" as a DVD Bonus episode that sets up to a bigger movie (a fifth movie is already planned).

For most of its 97 minute running time, "Afterlife" is flatly colored with dark, eroding shadows, according to the place the scene is set in (which fails to define any dramatic relevance).

The palette begins with a bluish-tint, and the film’s first of many slow-motion shots, in a rain-drenched Tokyo where an infected girl, with trademark Asian-horror long-hair, spreads the zombie-mutant T-Virus.

One Earth-zoom later, an army of Alice-clones attack the Japan base of Umbrella Corp., the hell-bent organization run by Albert Wesker (a stale-looking, neck-joint cracking, Shawn Roberts), whose purpose of littering earth’s populace with no-brain zombies, still make little, if any sense; I mean, as a corporation dealing with viruses, who are they going to sell their anti-viruses to if everyone of their consumers is turned into a mindless-zombie. I could be completely off-base on my assumptions here, because the lack of clarifying Umbrella Corp’s motives – a bad habit caught in the DNA of the series from the first film – gives little credence to the "what’s" and the "why’s". Maybe the filmmakers can’t spare the screen-time to venture into explainables.

Writer/Director/Producer Paul W.S. Anderson, a regular of gratuitous action flicks like "Death Race", "Alien Vs. Predator" and the first "Resident Evil", plows on the formula as he shifts from location to location, stopping only to dispose passages of hollow dialogues and two-three action sequences where passively defined characters are taken down by zombie-mutants. At least he knows how to handle the onslaught.

Mr. Anderson brings the army of Alice-clones first introduced at the cliff-hanger of "Extinction" and promptly destroys all of them. The original survives an aircraft collision and heads off – months later – to a cleaner, de-saturated color-palette in Alaska to search for survivors baited by an unverified radio broadcast offering salvation. Alice, then frees Claire Redfield (Ali Larter, "Final Destination", "Obsessed") an amnesiac survivor with a memory-sucking, mind-controlling, ruby-scarab lodged at her chest.

If there were scratch-marks left on Ms. Larter, the screenplay doesn’t play along with the imagination (there is an inkling of a supposed shower scene with Ms. Jovovich, which splashes down cold water on the hopes of the film’s target audience). In fact, even in the debris and destruction both Ms. Larter and Ms. Jovovich are spotlessly make-upped with water-resistant foundation.

The two head to Los Angeles, with its dilapidating Hollywood sign and a rusty dusk palette fixed in place by post-production. In LA, there are stock-survivors aptly barricaded within a maximum security prison, whose walls are clambered with a horde of dead-alives.

Three of the important ones here are: Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) a military man confined to a security-box; resident super-star basketball player Luther West (Boris Kodjoe, magnetic) and sleazy film producer Bennet (Kim Coates).

Ms. Jovovich plays Alice with undivided sincerity and unflinching weight. And the bulk of multi-angled slow-motion helps her tackle giant Zombies with coin-blasting guns (not kidding). Imagination has a long way to go to make up with this franchise. But, who’s complaining. The pages of the script have people to kill.

Released by ScreenGems, "Resident Evil Afterlife" is inexplicably rated R. The violence and bloody-death is slowed-down to overwork the 3-D. In execution, it is a notch above "Extinction".

Second Opinion

By Farheen Jawaid

resident_evil_4_shot17“Resident Evil: Afterlife” is another outing from the video game franchise “Resident Evil”. Even after three years not much has changed; Mila Jovovich is still fighting the wobbly, mumbling, flesh eating zombies (plus few new hyper-zombies), and the ever present umbrella corporation with anything sharp or high-tech.

The film jump starts where “Resident Evil: Extinction” ends, so a prerequisite is to have a little know how about the last part or you will be as lost as I was.

A horde of Alice-clones – explained when you see “Extinction” – attack the Japan branch of Umbrella Corporation, the company that created a virus that makes zombies (yes, they are that evil).

After the face-off with the insipid face of Umbrella, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), Alice goes in search of “Arcadia”, a yet unknown safe haven for survivors. On those co-ordinates, she finds a lone Claire Redfield (Ali Larter, another tie-in from “Extinction”) controlled by an Umbrella Corp gadget, who after being separated from the device develops amnesia. On the search for “Arcadia”, Alice with Clair goes to the now-barren land of Los Angles.

Sometimes flashy and sometimes classy, “Afterlife” is not the best of the franchise. Nor is it the worse. Nor it does have excitement or any real scares. What it has are a few proficient action sequences – one in particular when Alice jumps of the building with a wire attached to her and the zombies jumps off after her as the bomb goes off on the roof; The afterlife of “Afterlife” is Mila Jovovich who knows how to pull off action. With a career set-up around action movies, how can she not.

The published version can be found at:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/coinshooting-guns-zombie-apocalypse-and-ultraslow-motion-690

and

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/second-opinion-690

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