The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

Resident Evil Afterlife: Review

Big review behind the cut.

Resident Evil: Afterlife. Going in, I knew it was going to be a terrible piece of Anti-Zombie propaganda. That much was obvious.

I just didn’t realize the true extent of Capcom’s plan: allow husband-wife team of Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich to create a movie so atrocious that it had the potential to condition its entire audience, in true Pavlovian fashion, to hate the Undead. Their method? Create a movie, which happens to have some zombies in an incidental role, that is so awful, so stupid, so brain-meltingly, soul-crushingly bad that the overwhelming mental agony becomes forever paired in the viewer’s subconscious with Zombies.

Sad to say, they just may have succeeded; even I barely escaped with my sanity intact.

From the outset this movie is an affront to decency and logic. First, the movie fakes out the audience by, gasp, having a zombie outbreak occur in Tokyo, breaking the long-running Resident Evil formula of making the Undead somebody else’s problem, something that happens to Westerners with corrupt governments and cops on the take. However, this quickly degenerates into a silly, poorly directed, stodgy, slow, CG-filled spectacular of unconvincing explosions and improbable gunplay between the world’s worst commandos and an army of Milla Jovoviches, none of whom can manage an expression other than smirking.

I wasn’t honestly sure who the bad guys were supposed to be here. Umbrella created the T-virus, in the movies, but it was Alice who allowed it to escape the mansion by forcing her way out of a biohazard zone. She admits as much in this movie, that it’s all her fault. So here she is, in Tokyo, killing hundreds of inept security guards with her superpowers, to get revenge on them for something she did. Honestly, I haven’t seen an American kill this many innocent Japanese guys on-screen since Grave of the Fireflies.

And then suddenly, that’s over; Tokyo gets vaporized in some kind of CG implosion bomb/magic, and we’re right back to the formula: Zombies Eating Americans. Lock your doors, America! The Undead are here!

But I suppose you want specifics, as painful and alcoholism inducing as it is to dredge them up. Ok: Alice, who has gone from a security guard in a cocktail dress in the first movie to a combination of Jean Grey and Goku by this movie, has her superpowers removed by Wesker in a cunning ploy, and by cunning ploy I mean he stabs her in the neck with a syringe. It might have actually qualified as cunning if he hadn’t taken the time to gloat afterward rather than killing her, while he away from the controls of a moving aircraft no less, which results in an undramatic plane crash into the side of a mountain.

Unfortunately, there were survivors.

Apparently at the end of Resident Evil: Extinction, a group of uninfected but scrappy dolts headed to Alaska in search of a Zombie-free paradise/gated community. Alice decides to go there, and acquires the world’s most fuel efficient small plane to do so, along with a digital camera so she can record diaries that they still turn 3D. You just haven’t lived until you’ve had a low-battery warning flying at your right eye! Well, ok, that’s what Paul W.S. Anderson thinks.

Because he’s dumber than a sack of hammers. Moving on:

Alice gets to the Alaskan location where there were supposed to be survivors, and nobody’s there; the radio signal was a trick. (Danny Boyle might want to give Anderson a phone call) Alice despairs until she finds her old friend Claire, who has a case of Hollywood Amnesia induced by a gigantic glowing spider-broach on her chest.

Seriously.

So she packs up Claire, having decided that she has no need to figure out the mystery of her missing friends because as the protagonist it will be handed to her in the third act, and Alice flies her little plane to LA, which is on fire. For some reason. She notes that it’s been 177 days since the outbreak, and yet, the fires are still going. Maybe California rats are pyromaniacal, and the cockroaches fight a pitched battle with them to put out the fires before they grow too large?

Wow. That right there? Much better movie idea than this one.

Upon getting to LA she spots a group of fellow survivors on the roof of a building who have scrawled a message for help on the roof. (Zack Snyder, paging Zack Snyder). Only it turns out to be a prison (Robert Kirkman, please come to the courtesy phone). A very old style prison cleverly named the Citadel something or other, with huge castley walls that has been appropriated by your typical mixed nuts assortment of zombie movie survivors. You’ve got the Useful Male Lead, the Annoying Jerk Who Will Be Zombie Food, the Generic Disposable Female Who Gets Eaten to Show That It’s Dangerous, the Toady, and the Comic Relief. Blah blah, been there, done that.

Alice crash-lands the plane on the roof, only to find the people there think she’s from the same organization that had disappeared along with her friends in Alaska; now their radio signals are appearing here in LA, and she discovers that ‘Arcadia’ was never the name of a town; it was a ship, which is now parked in LA harbor, though the radio signal has ominously gone silent. The other living people thought she was from the ship, and are severely disappointed to learn otherwise, although how she was supposed to get them to the ship is another matter entirely. Hope springs eternal I guess.

Well, needless to say, now that the protagonist is there, the Zombie threat has to get in somehow, so they start to tunnel like earthworms, and have funny four-tentacled mouth thingies that remind me of Blade II and Resident Evil 4′s non-zombie enemies, and the living people have to escape, which leads to a very long and pointless swimming sequence, some looted guns, the killing of most of the extras, and a new plan to escape through the sewers to the storm sewers, and then to the shore, and then to Arcadia, which turns out to be… a trap.

A-durrr.

No seriously; it’s a very obvious trap. At one point they say it’s a trap, complete with a big Umbrella logo, and they go inside anyway. Because these people are legally brain-dead, every last one.

Along the way Claire regains both her memory and, in a coincidence somewhat more unlikely than winning the Powerball lottery twice back to back, her long-lost brother Chris.

After this point there’s some goofy superpowers fighting with Wesker, a couple of zombie dogs that are treated pretty badly, an inexplicable bomb ex machina ending that makes zero sense of any kind, and then they try for a cliffhanger ending because they are already planning Resident Evil: Infinite Stupid or whatever the next installment will be called.

Note: the acting in this movie is some of the worst you will ever see. Ever. Ali Carter, who plays Claire, is good at applying lip balm and looking useless, little else so far as I could tell. Kim Coates, the requisite jerk/zombie fodder, is so hammy he should be put on sale in time for Christmas. Milla Jovovich spends virtually the entire movie, as previously mentioned, in a smirk; maybe you would too, if you got paid to star in something this awful… repeatedly.

The real standouts, however, are the pair of Super Keanus Shawn Roberts and Wentworth Miller, who play Wesker and Chris Redfield, respectively. By standout, I mean ‘agonizingly bad’, shockingly, appallingly bad, although Miller is worst of all. For his paycheck Roberts tries to mimic Hugo Weaving from the Matrix movies, while Miller is going for Christian Bale in… almost everything really. Only both fail, catastrophically so, and come instead off sounding and acting like a pair of bad, bad Keanu Reeves impersonators. Flat, unconvincing, shallow, dull, vacant, glassy-eyed as a stuffed squirrel, in Miller’s case at least; Roberts gets to hide his eyes behind sunglasses for most of the movie, and behind CG for the rest. (It really doesn’t help that toward the end of the movie they have a CG fight scene with bullet-time, which drives home the unfortunate comparison).

I’ve seen better acting in soup commercials. In infomercials. In Youtube videos where kids fake their own lightsaber fights. It is officially no longer fair to hate Keanu Reeves for bad or at least questionable acting; he has been surpassed a thousandfold, by two ‘actors’ in the same ‘film’, and the entire human race is the worse for it.

Avoid this film. Avoid it because it’s unfair to Zombies. Avoid it because it glorifies violence against the Undead. Avoid it because it’s an enormous insult to the thousands of great movies that have been made throughout history. Avoid it because there are, as we speak, great independent horror films being produced and shown across the country at film festivals (like the upcoming Horror Society 2-day shindig in Chicago or The Dark Carnival in Bloomington, Indiana this November)

Avoid it because you value your sanity, or want to retain your hope in humanity, or faith in a kind and loving God. Just plain avoid it, please.

One final note: If you see this movie in 3D, first, congratulations, like me, you wasted some money. Also, be prepared to see sheets of CG glass and bad bullets fly at you for the next hour and a half. Write your hate mail to Screen Gems; I warned you.


About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.

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