Lets get this out of the way at the outset. I did not attend a screening of Resident Evil Afterlife for my health. Nor did I do it because I am a huge fan of the video games upon which the motion picture franchise is very, very loosely based. I’ve never seen any of the previous three films, and among the few compliments I can pay this, the 4th iteration of Paul Anderson’s undead saga, is that you really don’t need any additional back-story. Sure I may have missed an homage here or there, but its painfully clear that it really wouldn’t have dramatically expanded one of the shallower efforts I’ve seen all year. No, the reason I willingly submitted myself to the 97 minutes too long, headachingly painful to endure and god willing final chapter, is because of the 3D.
After Avatar, there was a huge swell of support for stereoscopic cinema, and though animated films created in 3D space were there to competently pick up the slack, the live action market floundered. Such horrible examples of post-processing as Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender reminded audiences of how bad 3D cinema could be, and the format has been back-pedaling ever since. Supporters issue words of caution and warning, telling their friends to wait for the next round of REAL 3D movies. The ones that were actually filmed with two cameras capturing different images, instead of being shipped overseas for some half-assed slicing and dicing to try and turn flat images into the equivalent of a cinematic pop-up book. Maybe some have been successful, but they won’t have to wait until Tron Legacy to see what a true 3D movie not in the hands of James Cameron looks like. Afterlife was filmed with the revolutionary Fusion Camera System developed by Cameron and Pace for Avatar, and apparently the tech is enough of a draw to be included in the marketing campaign. Soâ€¦ does it live up to its billing?
Yesâ€¦ and very much No. What is most painfully obvious about the film in question is that it’s just as easy to use revolutionary camera equipment poorly as it is to use a classic 35mm camera poorly. Anderson is capable of designing and executing some gorgeous shots, and there are plenty of moments in the film where the 3D shines incredibly bright. Other times, it just looks like a kid who hasn’t quite figured out how to use the new toy he got for his birthday. Stuff flies at the screen with regularity, shots that should be framed behind the plane of the screen stick annoyingly out into your face, and the foreground/background separation fluctuates randomly. With 3D, you have hundreds of new options for how to present the same 2D frame you have in a storyboard. What it comes down to is that the
filmmaker is responsible for the choices they make, and as with the rest of the film, the choices made about how to implement the 3D effect were shoddy at best. Of course, the cinematographer is also responsible for The Final Destination 3D
, so I guess I was giving the possibility of seeing well-shot 3D too much credence.
As a movie? Well, lets just say that matinee prices are a bit generous. With a bevy of rehashed and unoriginal action set pieces, a dozen “nuke the fridge” moments, and a script which is as painfully expositional as it is lifeless, there really isn’t much here that’ll make you value your initial investment. Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter are hot, as always, and that guy from Prison Break appears about halfway through as a “see, here’s another guy from the videogame randomly shoehorned in,” but other than that, I don’t understand the appeal. The most fun I had was betting against myself in my head over which annoying supporting character would die first, and whether or not the creative team would have the testicular fortitude to kill any of the principle cast. I’ll let you guess whether or not they did, though it shouldn’t be very hard to predict. Oh, and lest I forget, the flick ends on a cliffhanger that is so mind-numbingly stupid that I know I won’t be willing to come back and see how it plays out. You want to make a good zombie survival horror? You need to make us CARE about the people you’re putting in harms way. Take the “boo” scares back to elementary school where they belong, and leave the shiny cameras for the grownups.
As the T-Virus continues to spread, Alice (Jovovich) maintains her mission to find survivors and keep them safe from the Undead, and to take down the Umbrella Corporation. Reteaming with Claire (Larter), Alice makes a dangerous journey to a new city that is said to be a safe haven: Los Angeles.