We come to the most successful video game based movie franchise in history, Resident Evil. Why is this series so popular and has audiences lining up for every new installment? I’m here to tell you why. Let me start by saying that I am a massive fan of both the video game series as well as the films that follow, I know every story line and characters created by Capcom since 1996.
Paul W.S. Anderson directs Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth in the ongoing saga; and in 3D no less. Here is why these films are so good, because Anderson is a full blown fan of the source material. He knows not to alienate the fans or the games; he follows closely to the stories from the games. Anderson has figured out the formula to adapting a video game into a movie; extend the series. Don’t re-hash the story and make something new but at the same time don’t do a literal adaptation, you could just go back and play the games again in that case.
So instead Anderson keeps the initial story and extends it by telling that same plot from the POV of new characters, this is why I love this series. The first film (Also Directed By Paul W.S. Anderson) follows Alice as she awakens in a mansion with no memory of who she is, as the film progresses she remembers that she is actually an agent of the Umbrella Corporation who experiments with biological weaponry. The T-Virus escapes into an underground compound (The Hive) and zombie madness sets in.
The second of the series; Resident Evil: Apocalypse (Dir. By Alexander Witt) takes the action to the street and opens it up. Alice is trapped inside Raccoon City and must escape before dawn. The third; Resident Evil: Extinction (Dir. By Russell Mulcahy) continues the story where the Earth has been ravaged by the virus and has been reduced to dust and the Umbrella Corporation has taken refuge underground and continues their experiments.
Resident Evil: Afterlife picks up from there as Alice looks for survivors who sent a distress call from Alaska; she takes flight and stumbles upon familiar faces as well as some new character entries. But when a new lead promises sanctuary from the undead, more is revealed of the insidious Umbrella Corporation and the mysterious Albert Wesker. As you have probably guessed there isn’t much going for the plot here, a lot is left open and will be answered in the sequel. At the same time this acts as a sufficient expansion of the series.
The action here is pretty solid, what you would typically expect from the series. Stylized, slightly over the top action pieces fit nicely here. This is amplified by the 3D itself; this was shot with the same 3D Fusion Camera System that Avatar was shot on. Giving the scenes depth as opposed to gimmicky in your face gags, zombies were just meant to die in 3D! The look of this installment is great; an eerie grey color scheme fits the post apocalyptic landscape nicely.
Milla Jovovich once again leads the fight against the zombies as Alice; she still does a great job as the undead slaying heroin. She is joined once again by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and newcomer Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) who both do a fine job in their own rights, but I feel are slightly underused throughout.
But the real shocker here is the gore, which has been cranked up to 11 since the first of the series in 2002. There are a lot more on screen kills in more explicit detail this time around, people getting sliced in half and plenty of zombie head shots with a shot gun full of coins tearing through hordes of zombies. Not to mention the Executioner, a 7 foot tall maniac with nails sticking out of his skin and a massive hammer for a weapon. Everything a zombie movie fanatic like me needs in a midnight movie.
Paul W.S. Anderson does a great job building up the survival horror aspect; lack of ammunition and supplies plays a part here once again. He also plays up the need for survival more and showcasing what humans are willing to do in a desperate situation; which the video game series did so well for years. The series captures the essence of the games well as it presents the stillness and desperation as almost another sub character.
Anderson has a way of standing out from the pack by switching up his styles, so each of his films stand alone. Mortal Kombat (1995) looks and feels nothing like Event Horizon (1997); EH has no resemblance to Death Race (2008) and so on. So he separates himself from the series he created and tried to reinvent it, which results in pure popcorn fun.
But in the end the film feels incomplete; which makes this a little hard to review, too much is left out and too many questions left unanswered. Almost as if it could have been an hour longer, but I suppose that’s the idea to get you to come back for the sequel. I honestly cannot wait for the next installment and I’ll be right here to tell you what I think. 8/10