Sometime, somewhere, someone said, "I'd like to see Milla
Jovovich throw projectiles at me, but not really."
Whenever, wherever, whoever that was, director Paul W.S. Anderson must've been there, too, and was more than happy to oblige.
Hence Resident Evil: Afterlife 3-D, the latest in a seemingly never-ending series of movies based on the popular Capcom video game, starring Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) fighting hordes of zombies and their corporate controllers. In 3-D.
This doesn't help the situation. Almost every scene that enters the third dimension is presented in slow motion, sort of a "Hey, look at this," allowing audiences to marvel at Jovovich's bizarre facial expressions, while allowing Anderson (Mortal Kombat) to stretch the narrative to a mind-numbing 97 minutes.
This typical runtime wouldn't seem so bad in a movie that was actually fun. Instead, the film seems to be made by the very zombies who simply lumber through the motions, only in this case, it's the audience's brains at stake.
Jovovich reprises her role as Alice, the beleaguered survivor of a zombie apocalypse and poor career choices, brought on by the dastardly Umbrella Corporation. Years ago, Umbrella developed a biological weapon that went awry and transformed nearly all of Earth's inhabitants into flesh-eating zombies.
With Alice having pursued the corporate fiends in the last three movies, Afterlife picks up where the third installment, Resident Evil: Extinction, leaves off - with Alice and a slew of Alice clones pursuing the corporate fiends, yet again.
This time, she takes the battle to their underground headquarters in Tokyo, dispatching Umbrella's private army of G.I. Joe/Cobra refugees, before coming face to face with villainous chairman Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts, Edge of Darkness), an awful man whose fluctuating accents are belied only by his propensity to constantly wear sunglasses and Matrix clothes.
Wesker escapes, a plane crashes, and Alice ends up wandering the nation in search of a fabled, infection-free refuge in Alaska. Instead, she finds a mystery, as well as fellow survivor Claire (Ali Larter, TV's Heroes), from the last installment. Claire, however, has amnesia and cannot remember the events that transpired when she and some other survivors reached the refuge.
With no option but to keep moving, Alice and Claire take to the air to search the West Coast for any other signs of life (in an airplane that seemingly has an endless fuel supply, mind you). They arrive in Los Angeles and take refuge with a rag-tag team of survivors inhabiting a well-fortified prison, surrounded by the zombie horde.
Since it's L.A., this new group is comprised of sports superstar Luther (Boris Kodjoe, Surrogates), smarmy movie producer Bennett (Kim Coates, TV's Sons of Anarchy), aspiring actress Crystal (Kacey Barnfield, Lake Placid 3) and soldier Chris (Wentworth Miller, TV's Prison Break), among other zombie fodder.
When the perimeter is breached, the gang has no choice but to flee - by any means necessary - and the mayhem continues.
Despite a zombie horde, the occasional zombie dog and an inexplicable axe-toting giant, Resident Evil: Afterlife is by no means a horror movie. It's simply not scary, and its practically invincible heroine with her slow-motion acrobatics do away with any shred of suspense - you know she's going to kill the bad guys and are pretty certain how she's going to do it.
And for a movie so blatantly over the top, Afterlife is about as humorless as a tape measure and just as long. Whereas most zombie movies come with tongue planted firmly in cheek (take Norway's Dead Snow, for instance), the attempted grave nature of Afterlife only calls attention to its many faults and plot holes.
For those who argue that it's not about plot, but rather about Jovovich shooting things at the screen, well, that's what you get, and in plenty. But Anderson's simply going through the motions, using 3-D in a hackneyed attempt to freshen the series.
And the 3-D component is underwhelming, simply adding visual depth to dated special effects made popular by The Matrix more than 10 years ago. It's nothing new, and a groan-inducing cliffhanger conclusion promises more of it.
Resident Evil: Afterlife 3-D, rated R for sequences of strong violence and language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.