Resident Evil: Afterlife
Well, as it turns out, the 3-D is just about the ONLY saving grace of this fourth installment. Let me say this much--Anderson has never been what I would call an "innovator." Virtually all of his films to date have played as "cover versions" (if not out-and-out ripoffs) of previously established themes--which didn't stop me from enjoying them. I still think EVENT HORIZON represents his high point--even if you thought you might have "seen it before," it still provided strong, visceral horror deployed against a fine cast. And for similar reasons, I quite enjoyed DEATH RACE--there was absolutely nothing "new" there, and it certainly failed as a remake of DEATH RACE 2000, but the cast and the 100% authentic vehicle action still hit the spot and supplied fine entertainment, the likes of which I couldn't find in any other contemporary source.
Where last we left the RE saga (as handled by Russell Mulcahy), Ali Larter and her ragtag band were headed for the promised refuge of "Arcadia" while an army of Alice clones prepared to strike at the Umbrella Corporation's Tokyo headquarters. AFTERLIFE dispenses with the latter plot twist in the first fifteen minutes of the film. It's a promising opening--we get a terrific opening credit sequence followed by most of the action you saw in the trailer, and then we get a promising plot twist that robs Alice of her superpowers (though that scarcely seems evident).
Things stay reasonably okay as Alice checks out Arcadia for herself and runs into Larter again, but once the newly-reunited teammates hit the roof of an L.A. prison, it's unfortunately time for deadly dull "rehash" material for a long stretch. The utterly disposable (I mean that literally--they get killed off and the main players immediately stop caring about them) supporting characters are duly introduced as they re-enact the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake and start a pilgrimage to retrieve a super vehicle. We get interminable slow-motion fight sequences (with the obligatory bullet-dodging business... I swear that THE MATRIX still stands as the best film that I wish had never been made!!!), betrayals, alleged twists and that same clone of a sunglasses-wearing villain that does everything but snarl "MISTER Andersen..." at every turn. We get the Venus Flytrap mouths that were cool in BLADE II but scarcely beyond ("yeah, but it's in 3-D this time!" seems to be the excuse throughout). Oh, and when all of the surviving heroes think they're walking into a trap, they all step through and let the sliding metal doors close behind them anyway.
Okay. I did enjoy Alice's use of U.S. quarters as ammunition. And I REALLY liked the huge, executioner-hooded monstrosity that showed up with a gigantic war-hammer/battleaxe, but I guess that the video game players will have to tell me just what the hell it was and where it came from, because the movie sure didn't.
But that's about it. ONLY see this in 3-D. And prepare for yet another cliffhanger. I sure hope this one pays off. I don't hate this series and I don't want to hate this series... but this one is easily the least to date.