Movie Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D

My movie review of Ben Affleck’s bank robber film The Town consisted of 3 words: Go see it.
However, for this film, I managed to distil my cinematic assessment to the succinctness of a single word: Sucks. Clocking in at 23% with Rotten Tomatoes, I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to waste my time and yours by writing a review. [chuckles] Well, I’m here; you’re here; can I turn this lemon into some literary lemonade albeit a short personal rambling with some hopefully amusing anecdotal tidbits?

What is Resident Evil?
Originally, this was a video game released in 1996 for the Sony Playstation which turned out to be a critical and commercial success. This spawned 2 sequels and all three games were eventually ported to Windows. Various other sequels were released for a variety of systems.

The story is, in a nutshell, that a secret virus, the T-Virus is accidentally released which turns everybody into ravenous flesh-eating zombies. The virus is spread by one zombie biting and infecting somebody else. The central character or characters are always trying to escape the zombies and hopefully find some safe refuge on the planet. I guess that’s a terribly simplistic plot summation but what the heck? This ain’t Shakespeare for crying out loud.

The success of the game lead to the merchandising of it as a brand and the name has found its way into books, movies, comics, even action figures, toy guns and believe it or not, an energy drink called "T-Virus Antidote". While it is completely out of my realm of experience, I do see that these games are frequently found on lists of the best video games ever made hence the lending of the name to other things seems like a natural extension of the money making machine.

The Movies
Altogether, there have been 7 films made although one is merely a short and two others are CG animations (CG = computer generated imagery). Consequently,Afterlife is number four in the series of films made with actors. I also note that the four "live" films do not follow the games’ premise but do include game characters. However, curiously enough the protagonist Alice was made for these films; she does not exist in the original games.

Movie #2: Apocalypse
I have to tell you my personal story about the filming of this movie. It was shot in Toronto in 2003, Toronto being a stand-in for Racoon City. I had arranged for a special weekend downtown for my wife and me to celebrate our wedding anniversary: a wonderful meal at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Miss Saigon at the Princess of Wales theatre and a night in the Sheraton overlooking Nathan Philips Square.

The next morning, we look out on the square to see a mock-up of a helicopter on the upper deck of the city hall. At some point, we wander over for closer look. Curious.

It wasn’t until a year or so later that the film was being shown on TV. I was working away on my laptop with only one eye on the show when all of a sudden, I see this scene with the helicopter and I realise I’m looking at that mock-up we saw at city hall. Ha! Gee, there’s Toronto’s city hall showing up once again in a film. I remember seeing it a couple of times on the original Star Trek series.

Okay, let’s get back to this film
Question: Why did they make this film?  Answer: To make money. I personally think they added the 3D bit to attempt to lure us into the theatre. Ooo, 3D. It’s got to be good… well, at least worth taking a look at.

Obviously it worked. The film’s budget was $58 million and so far, it seems to have grossed $240 million. Good gravy, I wish I had invested some moo-la in that one.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
This final show down with the character, Wesker, the head of the umbrella Corporation was, much to my amazement, a complete rip-off of Agent Smith from The Matrix. The sunglasses, the twisting of the neck to crack his bones, the manner of speech and let’s not forget the bullet-time action sequences; heck, did somebody just do copy and paste on some CGI computer? What’s funny about this imitation is that this movie is just so oh so-so and the Matrix was… well, how about 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Eat, Pray, Love
What? He’s going to connect Resident Evil: Afterlife to the movie about Elizabeth Gilbert’s personal journey to fulfillment? Oh this is going to be good. 🙂

In my review for Eat, Pray, Love which by the way only got 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, I mention that even though a film may not be the greatest, if you’ve read the book and loved it, you will probably get more out of watching the film walk away from it with a better impression about its quality than somebody who hasn’t read the book.

I see the same idea applicable here. If you’re a fan of the games, I’m certain you’ll find something in this movies, in all the movies than I or somebody else who is not a gamer will not get. From a craftsmanship point of view, the film has been well made, well shot, etc. However, we must always return to the one essential element of any truly good film: a good story. CGI special effects are great but they won’t necessarily keep your attention in between explosions, jumps to warp speed and whatever else may make us go ooo and ah.

Final Word
After reading my one word review, I’m certain you must be asking yourself why I even bothered to go to the theatre. Didn’t I have something better to do at the time like wash my hair? Okay, I plead temporary insanity. I (almost) always now look up any film on Rotten Tomatoes before deciding to go to the movies. At twelve sometimes sixteen dollars a crack, one would like to be a tad more judicious in shelling out the bucks for anything which may be of dubious quality.

Nevertheless, I do have a list of stinkers I’ve seen for no other reason than I was bored out of my skull. Of course, this reminds me of oh so many boring business meetings I’ve been to. During such an event in the spring, we were all sitting around a conference table trying to stay awake and pay attention to the most uninteresting of presentations. I scribbled a message on a small piece of paper and surreptitiously passed it to my colleague on my right; all without taking my eyes off the speaker. After a moment, I could hear the very quiet sound of my note being unfolded then this sharp exhalation of breath indicating that my colleague was trying very hard to stifle a laugh. On the paper I had written, "Kill me."

So, returning to my stinkers in general and Resident Evil: Afterlife specifically: Kill me.

Click HERE to read more reviews by William Belle

References

Rotten Tomatoes: Resident Evil: Afterlife: 23%
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/resident_evil_afterlife/

Wikipedia: Resident Evil: Afterlife
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_Evil:_Afterlife

2010-10-06

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