Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates
The dreaded “four-quel.” Fourth entries into just about any and every series of films have almost always proven to be both unnecessary and unabashedly silly. As for more recent ventures into this dreaded territory, the Saw films certainly come to mind, although it can pretty much be assumed that most of its target audience lost interest about three sequels in. These installments have also tarnished previously beloved franchises, including titles such as Alien (and Aliens), Jaws and countless iconic 80s slasher flicks that need not be mentioned. Unfortunately for writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson, what Resident Evil: Afterlife ends up being is a complete waste of time in relation to the first three films, all of which weren’t anything special to begin with despite its immensely popular source material.
Even though Anderson himself took a leave of absence for both Apocalyspe and the abortion-esque Extinction, his not-so-triumphant return proves once and for all that any semblance of salvation the series could have stumbled upon is long gone. As for the 3D approach, my best guess would be it was employed to serve solely as a distraction from just about everything else that takes place from start to finish. Sure, there’s the requisite run-and-gun zombie mayhem and even a few noticeable details thrown in that coincide with the fifth Resident Evil game, but when you stretch the same wafer-thin plot over the course of not three, but FOUR films, you’ve got quite a big problem on your hands.
Aside from the introduction of several new characters we couldn’t care less about, everything about the script as a whole reeks of incompetence. From irrelevant side plots to inexplicably bizarre happenings that apparently don’t need an explanation outside of “The Umbrella Corporation is EVIL!” and “Watch out for that T-Virus!”, I assure you that even the most inexperienced of viewers will have a hard time appreciating anything about this drivel. Of course, those who’ve deemed themselves die hard fans of these films won’t need much to keep their jaws glued to the floor, especially when half the film involves hurling objects at you in three dimensions. Thankfully, Anderson does use said technology successfully enough in an attempt to immerse us in what he obviously thought mattered, i.e. blood, guts, and bullets. Way to go production values!
It’s no secret that Jovovich is pretty much on autopilot at this point, reprising her role as Alice with as much ease as an elephant would eating peanuts. Every other character is as textbook as they come, and you can just about pinpoint every minor one that gets axed (no pun intended) the moment they’re introduced. Ali Larter and newcomer Wentworth Miller are as bland as can be as brother/sister combo Claire and Chris Redfield, and considering they haven’t seen each other in God knows how long, you’d figure a little more bonding and catching up would ensue, but not here. As for Shawn Roberts, he gives it his all as Albert Wesker, an incorrigible badass in the series of games, but this performance also falters under the burden of a shit-heavy script and is easily overshadowed by Kim Coates’ somewhat satisfactory and, above all, humorous role.
I know Anderson’s intentions weren’t to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and I know the actors didn’t sign on to the project with hopes of seeing a small gold statuette perched atop their mantelpiece in their multimillion-dollar mansions. All I’m saying is, if you’re going to take a previously insignificant and generally awful franchise and make it even worse, think twice before you decide to produce another mind-numbing and worthless sequel completely undeserving of praise outside of some pretty awesome visuals, even if that’s the only thing worth a damn. It may be redundant, but Resident Evil: Afterlife is, without a doubt, strictly for the fans of the series and (perhaps) Anderson’s previous work. To see Milla Jovovich prance around in skintight leotards while armed to the teeth and putting bullet holes in everything that previously had a pulse, by all means, go waste the extra 2 or 3 bucks to catch this one in 3D, which coincidentally enough is probably the only format in which you’d be able to stand it.