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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resident Evil: Afterlife on Blu-ray Impression

Milla Jovovich keeps on rolling with Umbrella and the zombies in Afterlife

Movies based on video games. Gamers know the rules; take the beloved game, slice the plot, add in bad voice acting and soil the franchise. Bloodrayne, Doom and Prince of Persia are just a few titles which missed the mark but don’t let these titles deter from the enjoyment that is Resident Evil: Afterlife. The latest, fourth, Resident Evil movie has continued the unique approach of its predecessors began which is taking the basic formula but making it unique from the games. Let’s take a closer look.

The Story – The Earth has been decimated by the T-Virus with pockets of humans fighting for survival. Umbrella Corporation, having unleashed the virus, hide in their safe havens until Alice comes calling. As the battle at Umbrellas Tokyo complex kicks into high gear Alice confronts takes on Albert Wesker only to be stripped of her super human powers. On her own and very human Alice seeks out the safe haven of Arcadia, broadcast on open radio this is supposed to be a virus free locations but just where is it? Alice finds herself reunited with a memory loss Claire Redfield and on their way to Los Angeles and a building full of survivors. Can this new group, including Claire’s brother Chris, escape the zombie hordes to reach Arcadia?

Why is the film franchise for Resident Evil so different and why does it work? Alice folks, Alice. This character, a successful merger with the T-Virus enables the movies to go beyond the games, almost like a parallel world where that are core similarities but vast differences. The decimated earth is a perfect example. The core game characters are present but not in the manner of the games. This is a world where Umbrella essentially wins and its mega bad. The movies may have begun in the mansion in Raccoon City with Lickers and zombies galore but the action really changes direction in a manner which works for the movies. Full of action but not constrained to the games.

The Action and Acting – The appeal of Afterlife is it’s a turn-your-brain-off action movie with (now) very loose ties to the game whose name it bears. So how’s the action? Great with plenty of slow-mo sequences. Milla starts are a wrecking ball before being stripped of her power but she keeps up the great pace and is joined by Claire and Chris. The plot is inconsequential so the action keeps this one moving. Besides hordes of zombies there are really three other sets of baddies which is disappointment knowing the plethora of creatures in the franchise. Now Milla does a good turn as Alice, she’s great in these roles, but no nominations coming. On the flip side this is not b-movie acting as Milla, Ali Larter (Claire) and Wentworth Miller (Chris) all show their professionalism mixed in with said b-movie performances. Afterlife is about the action which is delivered in well enough but beware; the leather clad, sword swinging Alice seen in the trailers is more the exception than rule.

Why Gamers Should Care – It doesn’t suck, which really is saying a lot for the history of game based movies. The Resident Evil franchise and it’s alternate dimension take on the plotting of Umbrella makes it a fun distraction for fans that’s found a life of its own which is far from over (you’ll see). If this franchise was a failure as many before then it would have flamed out at 1-2 sequels that went straight to TV, not DVD but TV. That’s not the case as there is a box office audience and including a Blu-ray preview of Resident Evil: Damnation never hurts. This is a guilty pleasure that only takes a few hours of gamer time and rest the thumbs.

Overall Resident Evil: Afterlife is the latest guilty pleasure action entry in the unique film franchise which started with the games but has grown a unique, solid, life of its own. This mutation of Resident Evil works and does so in large part thanks to the character of Alice and the ability of a franchise to let the film do its own thing. Enjoyable and looks great in HD … now where is the game based on the movie based on the game? (Street Fighter anyone?)

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