So this isn’t technically a review, because I didn’t watch the whole movie. I’ll say that I watched about forty minutes of the new, oh-no-zombies-all-over-the-place sci-fi/horror yarn ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ before bailing. It was a late showing on Friday night, I was not in the mood, and I knew there was a whole stack of unread issues of ‘Scalped’ waiting for me at home. That said, I wanted to explain myself, to tell you all why, in such a short amount of time, I was so reviled that I kicked off my 3-D glasses in disgust and stomped out of the theater. Actually, that’s not true, I gingerly placed my 3-D glasses in the recycling bins provided. But the disgust part is legit.
‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ starts off with kind of a nice title sequence. A young Japanese girl is standing in the middle of a busy Tokyo walkway. Rain falls dynamically in 3-D, even bouncing off the three-dimensional credits. The score by Tomandandy drones on. And on. And on. What could have been a cool sequence for a few minutes stretches on to eternity. Directly after this, a huge action sequence erupts which, thanks to the wonder of 3-D wire frame, we see is located deep underground. This is the home of the Umbrella Corporation, the vague and mysterious conglomerate that has been behind the rash of zombies and rubber monsters since the first installment. Milla Jovovich shows up, with superpowers and all this other nonsense. Lots of poorly choreographed, zoom-y action stuff happens. I say “stuff” because it’s so ill-defined that I can’t even pick out a significant moment to elaborate on.
At some point, more Millas show up. This reminded me that at the end of the last movie, ‘Resident Evil: Extinction‘ (the best, most stylish of the series thanks to underrated director Russell Mulcahy), it was revealed that there were multiple Alices. “Oh!” I thought. “This might end up being some kind of meta-commentary on the nature of videogames and the idea of the extra life. Oh no, no, the director is just more interested in the bad guy walking around an underground lair wearing sunglasses.” My fears were confirmed when all the clones blew up.
So what was left between that frantic action sequence and the time I left the theater?
Lots of aerial photography of the movie’s Canadian locations. And Milla talking into a handicam even though the movie is set in the distant future. But the thing that really got me to leave was the realization that there would be no metaphoric value to the zombies. Zombie movies work because they mean something: American consumerism, corporate greed, etc. In ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife,’ the zombies don’t mean anything. And neither does the movie. Director Paul W.S. Anderson’s cinematic accomplishments include turning a concept like ‘Alien vs. Predator‘ into something downright boring. He also produced a 15-year-old David Peoples script (one supposedly as good as his work on ‘Blade Runner‘) and turned it into the Kurt Russell dud ‘Soldier.’
So, armed with the knowledge that the movie would be meaningless and dull, I begged out. And caught up on ‘Scalped.’ What’d I miss? Probably more mayhem. But not much else.