Sorry I’m running late this week, but it should come as no surprise that there were no advance screenings for “Resident Evil: Afterlife.” I’m not sure what to make of the fact that this is the only wide release movie opening this weekend. I guess Hollywood thinks Labor Day weekend is the weekend after Labor Day.
I’m not too ashamed to admit (although I am a little) that I like the “Resident Evil” movies. I must not be alone as this is the fourth in the series, and most movies based on video games are lucky if they don’t go direct to DVD.
No, they’re not high art, but they’re dumb, schlocky fun and they have decent action bits and special effects. And they keep Milla Jovovich employed.
Based on a video game I have never played, here’s all you need to know about the Resident Evil franchise, or at least all that I understand: There’s an evil corporation known as the Umbrella Corporation which keeps it’s offices deep underground (to be closer to Satan, I guess). One day UC let a deadly virus get loose which transformed most of humanity — and some dogs — into zombies. Not classic, slow-moving zombies but modern, fast-moving zombies.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) is a former employee of the corporation who was exposed to the virus but instead of turning into a zombie she turned into Captain America, complete with enhanced strength, speed and agility. Dunno how or why. The UC has cloned Alice many times in an attempt to figure it out.
Every “RE” movie is some version of Alice helping human survivors try to escape the undead while she also tries to deal with the Umbrella Corp. In the current one, Alice tries to help a small group of survivors who have taken refuge in a prison to escape from the undead (who are about to breach the prison walls) to a ship offshore which promises to be a haven for the uninfected.
There’s a formula here and this one follows it like all the movies before it. If you’ve enjoyed the earlier ones, you should enjoy this one. It starts out with a great action sequence as Alice takes on the Tokyo branch of the UC, then drags in the middle when she hooks up with the survivors, but then picks up again at the end.
The bonus gimmick this time is that it is presented in that 3D effect that’s all the rage. This is usually the part where I tell you to save your money, but the 3D here is surprisingly good. Much better than most of the live-action 3D that’s been out recently (except for “Avatar,” but it’s really in a class by itself).
If you’ve ever wondered what “The Matrix” would look like in 3D, this is as close as you’re going to get. There’s a lot of bullet-time effects and people falling from tall buildings and shooting people on the way down. The special effects are fine and its got the usual twisty, not-quite-sure-what’s-going-on science fiction elements.
Did it work for me? “Resident Evil” movies are an acquired taste and if you’ve acquired it like I have you’ll probably have a good time.