Many years ago I rented the first Resident Evil movie while I was on a random zombie-flick kick, and found myself really enjoying it… so much so that I even tried recommending it to some of my film-buff friends! They mocked me, of course, but I remain very fond of the movie, all the same. As an avid (if slightly incompetent) player of the computer games, it was a thrill to see so many familiar elements in a live action context, branded with that cute-but-creepy-by-association Umbrella emblem… and I was already a fan of Milla Jovovich, M-Rod and the music of Marilyn Manson, so I guess it’s only natural I was drawn to it. Obviously these movies are never going to win any Oscars, but occasionally they can throw some disarmingly beautiful or amusingly absurd images and sequences at the screen. For instance, the scene where ‘Alice’ kicks a zombie dog in the head to the tune of NIN’s “Fist F*ck” is still one of my all-time favourite movie moments… so make of that what you will!
Anyhoo, I was so impressed with the first movie that I dutifully went to see the next two instalments at the cinema… but Resi 3 (aka Extinction), was the tipping point for me. What I enjoyed most about Resi 2 (aka Apocalypse) was the “evil corporation” angle, the urban setting, and the mid-apocalypse vibe… whereas, the third film had more of a post-apocalyptic desert setting, with Umbrella hiding away in their underground bunkers. Since civilisation has crumbled into the sand, they’re no longer a “corporation” as such… just an impossibly wealthy and well-stocked private army, led by a single, smirking douchebag of a General. I wasn’t really in any hurry to watch Resi 4 (aka Afterlife), but my local Blockbuster had an offer on, and curiosity got the better of me…
The finale of the previous chapter saw the super-powered ‘Alice’ discovering a secret stockpile of her clones, and vowing to use them to bring down the Umbrella corporation’s main base of operations in Japan… which is basically where we come in at the start of this movie. Now, if I had been in charge of the project, I would have approached it like a feature length episode of the old Aeon Flux cartoon, with an army of Alices getting killed off one-by-one, in increasingly absurd ways, as they gradually get closer and closer to their mutual goal… until only the “real” Alice is left, for a final showdown with the Big Boss. Which is kinda what you get here, except that the kamikaze-clone sequence only lasts about fifteen minutes, and then it’s back to the States for more boring post-apocalyptic stuff, with a small band of survivors under siege, blah, blah, blah. I probably wouldn’t mind so much, but it’s becoming painfully obvious that there really is no overarching storyline here… just a series of ludicrous twists, each one more ludicrous than the last! At least my version would have brought the series to a natural conclusion… then again, this movie made nearly THREE HUNDRED MILLION dollars, against a budget of sixty million, so they’re probably quite happy to keep humping this cash cow until long after we’re all dead and risen from our graves!
On the plus side, Jovovich is still a very dynamic, compelling actress and it’s always a pleasure to watch her kicking-ass… I just wish she didn’t waste her skills on substandard shadows like this one.