Buff Review Show: Brraaaiiiinns… Now in 3D Slo-Mo… in L.A.
Might as well save yourself the bother, the title pretty much sums up my review into a pithy en-zombied sentence.
Anyway, sadly not a review for L.A. Noire, not just yet anyway, but my film choice for this evening. Resident Evil: Afterlife is the review I shall leave with on this glorious post-Rapture sunday, what with it being the most recent RE film, while I go and watch the first and second RE films for a bit of light entertainment. Jill Valentine flavoured popcorn anyone?
Resident Evil: Afterlife
The Resident Evil franchise of games has often been a stalwart favourite of mine. I certainly wouldn’t say any of them in particular are the BEST games in the world, although Resident Evil 4 certainly does get closest to that moniker, falling slightly short by not furthering the writing when they decided to stir away from the coiled, intertwining back-stories of the various past games. But on the whole, the Resident Evil games have always had the sound to them of being written by ADHD pre-teens writing bad action dialogue to a chorus of BRRAAAIIIIINNS!
Now the films are a different kettle of dead, rotten fish. The first film took elements of the games and put them into the film with (mostly) new characters and ideas, but taking the basic back plot and set out to create something older fans, and newcomers to the series, could and would enjoy, all the while paying a wonderful homage to the series as a whole. Resident Evil: Apocalypse swiftly followed, but already it was a clear sign that the producers were doing more fan service than trying to provide a different and unique film series derived from the games, as we were force-fed most of the plot and action (and, indeed, almost scene-for-scene set pieces) from Resident Evil 2, the first game to take us into Racoon City. And like the up-and-down nature of the games, the third film ‘Extinction’ then spun everything on its head, as it was primarily set in expansive desert locations, with lots of bright light- a far stretch indeed from the series’ roots of darkened corridors with shuffling victims coming for a sampling of your fleshy bits.
The 4th and “final” instalment, with massive inverted commas there; I fail to believe after the 3rd film in this series that this accursed franchise will ever just curl up and die without me severing it’s head from it’s neck with an axe so large I could sink an aircraft carrier in one swing, Resident Evil: Afterlife, shuffles towards us, dribbling madly and clawing at our eyes for attention, or maybe that’s just the film’s producers thrusting a pair of 3D glasses at us, as now it seems no action series can do a half-decent sequel without the need for making those explosions even more unnecessarily over-the-top. Not that the 3D is done particularly well here, nothing particularly frightens in this series any more, they’ve almost mimicked the game’s direction of locking “atmosphere and pacing” in a cupboard, meanwhile letting “gore and nudity” out to play for a while.
Lead character Alice, not a character from the games themselves, but she could well be as she is as improbably thick at times like her antecedents from the games, is played by Milla Jovovich, and resumes her role as survivor/superhuman/defender of the (mostly) innocent, by finding and assisting in transporting a group of survivors (lucky them) to Los Angeles, presumably because Toronto and New York were already far too plague-ridden and had been used in previous films already. But once again, a 3D film falls resolutely, and ironically, flat. Stalwart nuisance “Bullet Time” makes its 1000th appearance on our screens, and its no more interesting or new than it was when The Matrix did in, over a decade ago, and the few other films that used the concept prior to The Matrix.
Speaking of stalwart nuisances Umbrella Corporation, now channelling Skynet for improbable evil deeds, are unsurprisingly taking things to an even higher level this time round, and considering they’ve doomed the entire world twice over and killed millions of people, one really wonders what they can do to make themselves either the good guys again, rescuing the world they’ve so easily doomed, or how to outdo themselves and just destroy, well, everything. Alice and the few unlucky sods who haven’t been turned into zombies, because really any character still being forced to utter the “serious” dialogue in these films any more might as well just lobotomise themselves and be done with it, are left to try and stop Umbrella, again. Maybe in the next film they can just fire a nuke at the centre of the earth and we can all enjoy the improbable space race that occurs as all involved travel to zombie-infested Mars. Actually that would make for a good film… Hmm.
And naturally, as no film these days can seem to end without a thrilling conclusion, viewers are left scratching their heads as we, and, indeed, the characters themselves, work out if there will be more films to follow. Or indeed if anyone WANTS there to be any more films made. This is a franchise built on milking its fans; by re-re-re-releasing games on numerous platforms, so who knows? The Saw franchise has hit 7 films, and the fans still want more despite Saw 7 being the final instalment, but again, mountainous heaps of salt to be taken with that statement. Look out for Resident Evil: Post-Modern-Re-Zombiefication in a couple of year’s time. Maybe it will be filmed and screened entirely in 3D slow-motion bullet time, ugh it makes you want to vomit just joking about it…
To be honest, Resident Evil: Afterlife was mere steps away from doing just that anyway, if only to stretch out what little comprehensible and interesting plot they actually decided to dollop into this film as generously as the lunch lady dollops out extra helpings of rhubarb and slop crumble in the school canteen.