Each of the previous Resident Evil movie felt like they was missing something, until now. The first film had little to no character development, Apocalypse told the worst story, while Extinction had lousy pacing. Combined, a very good movie likely could have been pulled from the mess.
That film is Resident Evil: Afterlife, the best Resident Evil movie so far. It’s still not a great film or any piece of great art, but it isn’t missing something huge like the previous films. It also keeps the degree of hilarity that largely populated them to a minimum, and stays entertaining from beginning to finish.
Thankfully, Director Paul W. S. Anderson decided to negate some of the events that occurred in the previous film with Afterlife. Alice has all of her clones eliminated and her superpowers taken away right at the beginning of this installment, making her fully human again. The T-virus inside of her has been neutralized, meaning the series gets to go back to its roots: humans surviving in a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic environment.
This time around, Alice (Milla Jovovich) begins the film having deserted her friends in order to go hunt down Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). After the plan fails, she is left on her own, on a mission to find other survivors. She remembers that her friends were going to a place in Alaska called Arcadia, and decides to use a plane and fly there.
Upon arrival, she meets an amnesic Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), who, after being restrained, is taken away. Alice continues her trip to the West coast, and eventually crash-lands in on an old prison. Now trapped there, this is where the majority of the film takes place. Arcadia, it turns out, is actually a ship, one that is passing by the city right as Alice lands. The group’s attempt to get to the boat and escape from the boxed-in prison serve to fill the majority of screen-time from here on out.
The only member of the previous films that plays a major role in Afterlife is Claire, who isn’t even herself for the majority of the film. She doesn’t remember anything to begin with, not even her own brother, Chris (Wentworth Miller), who we meet at the jail. There are other characters at the prison as well, all of which have distinct personalities, despite being completely overshadowed by Alice.
At this point in the series, we know pretty much all there is to know about Alice. We also know that she is going to command attention from everyone. As soon as she shows up at the jail, she immediately takes over, meaning that the supporting cast gets pushed aside…again. This isn’t a good thing this time, as some of the supporting cast is quite interesting. We get to meet a former basketball player, a failed actress, as well as a movie producer. They all have their own little quirks, and this makes them more interesting than Alice, a character who we’ve already had to endure for three films.
They do get some attention though, so when they face perilous situations, (they will, trust me), you want to see them make it, (or die, in one character’s case). We get just enough information about them to begin caring, but not enough for it to be heartbreaking if they die. Call if a mixed bag of character development. At least it isn’t as non-existent as it was in the first film.
Afterlife also has some of the better pacing of the series, starting off on a somewhat slow note, before ramping things up quickly. It then disperses action scenes when called for, and it doesn’t overuse them. It has a good balance between tense, pseudo-horror moments and full-on action sequences. It keeps its audience on their toes, as well as giving them moments of heart-pounding, adrenaline-fueled scenes.
As to be expected from a Resident Evil movie, the acting still hasn’t improved much, if at all. It’s not terrible, and most of the actors stay within their means, but there isn’t anything special about it either. Milla Jovovich showed that she is now quite comfortable with her role, and she really needs to be in order to carry the film. She pulls it off though, and is definitely capable in the leading role.
The problems that Afterlife has mostly stem from the fact that its story is still not as great as it easily could be. While it was a blessing that superhuman Alice was negated early on in this film, it also made the rest of the films feel kind of pointless. Their stories end up being almost completely wiped away, and seem to have only functioned as a way to give us more development for Alice.
That’s the main problem that the series as a whole has at this point. Most of the second and third movies seem completely pointless at this point of the series. The continuity barely manages to stay consistent as well. The world was supposed to be nearly completely dried up during Extinction, but in this film there aren’t any deserts at all. It’s like the filmmakers decided to write that part out, as it wouldn’t be conducive to another film. It might have felt too much like Extinction, so they added in trees, snow and water, just because they can. Some sort of explanation would have been appreciated.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is the best film of the Resident Evil series so far. It took most of the problems that the previous films had and fixed them. The story still needs work, and the acting isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it’s an entertaining action film that serves as a good way to continue the film series. It is a fun film, like the previous installments, but Afterlife just does everything better.