The most chafing costume ever?
We went to opening night of the fourth installment of one of my favourite movie franchises, Resident Evil, with the intention of reviewing it (RE: Afterlife) on the episode. Too enamoured with Milla Jovovich and Zelda we didn’t get around to talking about it much.
So let me lay-out for you what’s wrong with it here in these (very late) show notes. Be warned, I’m not going to shy away from spoilers but, since this movie has probably been dropped from theatres by the time this post goes live, you’ve had your chance to remain spoiler-free.
First off, like I’ve said all over the internet, I love the Resident Evil films because they’re the “greasiest cheese.” I went into the opening night showing not just prepared for le fromage, I was hungry for it.
Simply put: Afterlife delivers the curds.
Paul W. S. Anderson and co. seem to be taking the film franchise seriously. Unfortunately, not only are they taking it far too seriously, they shouldn’t be taking it seriously at all.
What began as a series of underdog B-movie mash-ups of The Matrix, The Cube and every George A. Romero flick, is apparently now being treated as an epic approaching the grandeur of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. Or, more accurately, the aforementioned Matrix trilogy. A seemingly lofty goal until you consider that the Matrix trilogy was a pretty hokey affair to begin with. The risk of emulating a pop-culture watermark like Keanu’s cyber-fu adventure, is ending up as merely another second-rate knock-off cluttering up people’s Netflix queues. Afterlife suffers this fate in three main ways.
1: Lack of LOLZ. The first film got by as a decent action/horror film in its own right. Cheesy, yes, but that’s exactly what makes a decent action/horror film decent. Without a few yuks along the way to a zombie headshot, there’s really no point. With diminishing returns on the storyline and acting fronts, the only thing the second two installments of the series had going for them was unintentional comic relief. Afterlife‘s overly pretentious atmosphere significantly mutes the potential for sniggering at poorly delivered dialogue and cheesy snuff-lines.
2: The baddie is the baddest baddie ever. But not “bad” meaning good. He just sucks. He basically does the worst impression of your drunk friend’s worst Agent Smith impression the entire time he’s on screen. But he dresses like Neo. Actually, if your drunk friend was Keanu, you have a pretty good idea of this guy’s Agent Smith act. Only it’s not as good as when Keanu does it.
You’re probably wondering how this doesn’t factor into point #1 and the LOLZ. Remember Shane Brolly‘s hilarious performance as Kraven in the Underworld movies? Along with Bill Nighy, he saved that movie. This guy’s performance is that bad. Only somehow too absolutely meh to even be amusing.
3: Third time’s the charm. You can always tell when a director has disappeared up his own ass because the film doesn’t start until the third act. Their own rectum acting as a blindfold prevents them from seeing no one cares about Alice‘s trip down Amelia Earhart lane. Her whole discovery, or lack of discovery, of “Arcadia” in Alaska should have been told in a series of quick flashbacks. Instead it’s a long and ultimately pointless lead-up to where the story actually picks up in Los Angeles. Say what you will about the first three films, but the pacing was flawless (or nearly flawless) in all three.
It’s a fault that could be forgivable if the film didn’t begin with the final scene from the Matrix. Only replace the Agent Smith clones with Alice clones and add guns. Lots of guns. Too many guns.
It’s like the action sequences that open James Bond films—a bit of excitement that has nothing to do with the rest of the film, but whets your appetite for more. Unlike a Bond film though, this is a sensory barrage that deadens you to the rest of the film and perhaps any experience you’ll have in your life ever again.
Come to think of it, it was actually the perfect ending to Extinction. A little George Lucas-style re-cutting in future DVD editions and the two films could be somewhat salvaged.
Even if they don’t do that, and in spite of the film’s failings, I’ll probably still buy the DVD when it’s released. It’s always good to have plenty of greasy cheese on hand to help you get through those killer hang-overs.