I had hopes for Resident Evil: Afterlife ... I really did.
I've experienced sporadic moments of enjoyment with this franchise, and I knew that this would be a "Real 3D" experience. In other words, producers always intended for us to be wearing the funny glasses while watching the film, as opposed to 3-D conversions like Clash of the Titans.
But then the words "directed by Paul W.S. Anderson" appeared on the screen—reminding me that there was no talent at the helm. Anderson is responsible for rancid goat spew like AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Mortal Kombat and I Shat on the Screen, and Now You Are Watching It! (He also did Event Horizon and the first Resident Evil, so he's not technically the worst director on the planet; he's just one of them.)
This is a zombie picture that de-emphasizes the walking dead in favor of characters standing around and having monotonous conversations about what they are going to do next. And when they do something, they do it in frustratingly slow motion.
The story picks up where the last one left off, with multiple Alice (Milla Jovovich) clones running around in tight outfits; this visual is one of the few good things about the movie. They are attacking the Umbrella Corporation and going up against some bastard named Albert Wesker, played by the awful Shawn Roberts. He's yet another film villain who copies Hugo Weaving's performance in The Matrix.
Some nonsense goes down involving Shawn injecting Alice with something that makes her human again, yet she still survives a nasty plane crash and continues to kick ass. The idea of her again being human and vulnerable is never really explored, except she gets knocked out for a few seconds during a brawl.
Alice travels north toward Arcadia, where survivors, à la I Am Legend, are supposedly offering shelter and food. She finds Resident Evil: Extinction's Claire (Ali Larter) running around, suffering from amnesia and still looking incredibly hot. They decide to head for Los Angeles for whatever reason, where some Hollywood types are hiding in a skyscraper.
The standout character in L.A. is the imprisoned Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), Claire's long-lost brother. (What a coincidence!) The survivors are keeping him confined in a see-through cell, reminiscent of the one Hannibal Lecter occupied briefly at the end of The Silence of the Lambs. He stands out by talking exactly like the Old Spice guy. I was expecting him to yell out, "I'm on a horse!" during one of the many gun battles.
Those slow-motion battles are awful Matrix rip-offs, during which Anderson is clearly trying to show off the wonders of 3-D—and failing miserably. They contain nothing powerful or visually creative (a murky underwater swimming scene is quite underwhelming), and many of the backdrops are computer cheese, so the movie comes off like a cheap video game. I suppose that's appropriate given the source material, but it still makes for boring viewing.
There are moments when Jovovich and Larter are battling together that I realized that this duo could've been something special if they'd been directed by somebody who knew what he was doing. Instead, Anderson just tells Larter to stick out her chest while firing her guns—and she isn't afraid to show off her impressive yoga posture. She's like, "Hey, boys, get a load of THESE as I shred you with my guns!"
There's going to be a sequel for sure, so let's all join hands and pray that Anderson goes back to producing and gives the directorial chores to somebody who can do it better. (A blind giraffe, perhaps?)
Jovovich, and to a lesser extent, Larter have decent screen presences. They just need a movie with its own identity—one that doesn't rip off every action film that's scored big box office within the last 15 years.