Stemming from a videogame, this, the fourth in a live action series, follows Resident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), which were all written by Paul W.S. Anderson. He directed the first and this latest installment, both lacking the fun and energy of Apocalypse (directed by Alexander Witt) and Extinction (Russell Mulcahy). I got into the series via Blu-ray, and wonder if my disenchantment over the new one stems from the theatrical experience itself. Could these bubblegum epics be properly viewed only at home, in those precise moments when their frantic mindlessness is the best tonic for whatever ails?
Milla Jovovich is back as ‘Project Alice,’ who we last saw floating among hundreds of embryonic clones gearing up to do battle with the Umbrella Corporation, evildoers supreme. For the record, I think Extinction is the best in the series, and its ending suggested a sequel with a lot more meat than Afterlife has shaking on its half-gnawed bones. There are inconsistencies and gaffes (Alice is stripped of her superpowers but regains them without explanation); a paltry, token nod to the flesh-eating zombies; a hollow, faceless villain; none of the previous films’ sense of mystery or dread; and way, way too much slo-mo. When the picture ends so abruptly, it’s the only thing we don’t expect.
Jovovich is committed (she and Anderson are married), and often the sole focal point in a picture weathering rigor mortis. For better Milla, check her out in .45 (2006).