V.G. Movies #39: Resident Evil: Afterlife.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


When I last left off, I talked about Resident Evil 2 (the game) and the character of Claire Redfield who, in the games, is looking for her brother, Chris. (This doesn't happen in Resident Evil: Extinction.) But now I can talk in more detail about Chris and a few other things. (You'd think after three Histories for this series (four if you count Degeneration), I'd run out of stuff to say. Apparently not.)

Chris is, well... the main character of the first game (along with Jill Valentine). So it's awesome how it took four films to introduce him. Anyway, in the first game, he's one you can control to go throughout the mansion. He eventually returns in Code: Veronica hunting down his sister, Claire, who he believes to be in an Umbrella facility in Antarctica. He's in a few other games, as well, usually tied to either Jill or Claire in some way.

Next up, I need to talk about Albert Wesker. He had a small presence in the last film, but his role grows for this one, so it's finally necessary to bring him up. Wesker, too, started out in the original game as a commanding officer in S.T.A.R.S., the same special forces unit as Chris and Jill. As it turns out, he was a double agent for Umbrella and was used to bring in test subjects to face off against the mutations and zombies for battle data. He supposedly dies in the game, but of course comes back in Code: Veronica and has superhuman powers. He's in Resident Evil 4, as well, but I'll talk about that more next time. All that's necessary to know there is that he helped bring down Umbrella. But it's his role in Resident Evil 5 I'd like to mention. He's the main antagonist and works with the Tricell Pharmaceutical company. It was made known that he was part of a secret project called Project Wesker where they had genetically engineered children (one can kind of see the similarities between this and Project Alice from the films). He has super speed, super strength, red eyes, black coat, and created the Uroboros virus, as well as got his hands on the Las Plagas parasite for Tricell.

Now I need to bring up Las Plagas and Majini. In 2005 Game-of-the-Year Resident Evil 4, Leon S. Kennedy finds himself in a remote European village to rescue the President's daughter. She'd been kidnapped by a cult who are injecting people with this Las Plagas parasite, which can turn them into these giant tentacle monster things. Later, in Resident Evil 5, we follow Chris again as he takes a team to Africa where some people have been infected with a Stage 2 or 3 Plagas--meaning they apparently wait until the parasite is more than an egg before it's ingested. This turns them into Majini. Majini look normal and can do normal things, but are controlled physically and mentally by this parasite. Also, a quad-tentacle can appear out of their mouths, which shows that they are infected. And neither the Las Plagas or Majini have anything whatsoever to do with Umbrella or the T-Virus (or any other various of the virus).

And that brings us to the film, which picks up not where the last film left off, as the remainder of the series realized "Holy crap, that last movie was awful. Let's pretend that never happened. Well, except for the characters that died or survived... I guess we have to keep going with those. Everything else, though... yeah, let's forget about that."


Let's just get to it, shall we? (Note: This is a pretty heavily updated version of my theatrical review... so while most of it is new, you might recognize a few lines here or there... if you remember my reviews from 2 years ago, that is.) Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her clones are going to take down the Umbrella Corporation, and they start with the Japanese headquarters. Unfortunately, the new head of the corporation, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), has injected himself with the T-Virus much like had been done to Alice. And then he injects a cure into Alice, removing all her powers. After a crash, Alice decides to head to Alaska to find Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and K-Mart (Spencer Locke), who were the only survivors of the previous film. But only Claire is there, and she has amnesia. So flying down to L.A., the two discover a handful of survivors hanging out in a prison, including Luther (Boris Kodjoe), Bennett (Kim Coates), Angel (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), Crystal (Kasey Barnfield), Kim (Norman Yeung), and Chris (Wentworth Miller)... yes, that Chris. So now they gotta try to find a way to escape and get to safety.

As you should know by now, I really like the first film, despite it being nothing like the games (but I'm no purest in this regard). The second film is more like the games (well, it has Jill and Nemesis), and it sucked. The third film is just... bad. But I will admit, despite this film's flaws (and it has many), I like it. I know a lot of people hate this one in particular, but I think it's entertaining. So let's talk about how it works and how it totally fails.

First, some good stuff. The opening is pretty cool with a mysterious Japanese woman just standing in the rain before attacking (which is revisited in the next film), and then flashing years later to the attack on Umbrella with all the clones. The action is fun, but it does take its toll with a bit too much slo-mo. However, there are some excellent visuals. The movie has some great visuals and cinematography (though some poor CGI with the dogs and Las Plagas stuff later on).

Speaking of, let's look at how it totally ignores the mythology of the games. First, the Las Plagas parasite just seems to be an evolution of the T-Virus in this case. Even dogs can get it. And it's not just Las Plagas, but the zombies are also part Majini... despite the fact zombies and Majini are supposed to be two completely different and unrelated things. Chris also has almost nothing to do with his video game counterpart except for the fact he's Claire's brother and was once special forces. I'm also not sure an an Executioner is in the games, but I've read there's absolutely no reason one should be in this movie (though that action scene is pretty cool).

Besides being nothing like the games (or unrelated to the games in general), the characters are a step up here from the last film. You like Luther almost immediately. He's not a complicated or even deep character, but he just has a likability to him. And then you have Kim Coates playing a Kim Coates character, so that's automatically entertaining. If anything, the character to weaken the movie the most is Alice. She has to be the one to help everyone else. Why can't any character have their moment to shine and take down a baddie? Claire almost gets her moment with the Executioner scene, but nope... Claire's kill wasn't good enough, so Alice steps in and finishes the job. Or at the end, (SPOILERS) Alice takes down Wesker and Chris and Claire finish the job. But... nope! Turns out he survived, and it takes Alice blowing him up to finish the job (though not really, technically, since he survives to the next movie) (END SPOILERS). In fact, the only character that legitimately holds their own without any help from Alice (and, in fact, rescues Alice at one point) is Luther. Another reason he gets more props from me as a character.

The acting isn't too bad. I mean, it's a Resident Evil movie. But I must say, Shawn Roberts as Wesker, at times, reminded me of Gob Bluth (of Arrested Development) trying to be Agent Smith (of The Matrix). Imagine that as you will. And dammit if Wentworth Miller wasn't doing his best Karl Urban impression (without being as awesome as Karl Urban). And, unfortunately, there's no Milla Jovovich nudity like almost all the other films.

I really don't know what else to say about the movie. Good action, but sometimes too much slo-mo. Decent acting, but some cheesy stuff sometimes. Really good visuals/cinematography. And... I really have no idea what else. It had faults, probably even more than I mentioned (like how some of the action sequences make absolute no sense whatsoever). It doesn't reach entertainment levels of the following flick, but it's still entertaining.

I Am McLovin!

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