Each of the three previous Resident Evil movies was set on a bigger stage than the last. The first was inside the Umbrella Corporation’s research facility, the second expanded to Raccoon city, while the third was a post-apocalyptic road trip across America.
The fourth movie in the series, Resident Evil Afterlife, begins in Japan (seeming to branch out even further), but soon heads back to America, and actually spends most of its running time in an abandoned prison.
The Mad Max-ian setting of the third film made it feel more like a straight action movie than a horror film; while the enclosed space of Afterlife gives it a kind of Alien feel, as our group of heroes (led by a woman) spend most of their time anxiously debating how they will escape, while monsters periodically burst through walls and eat one of them.
Milla Jovovich reprises her role as the super powered cloned Umbrella experiment, Alice. At the beginning of the movie she loses her flashier, telekinetic powers, but that doesn’t slow her down much. Also returning is Ali Larter as Claire Redfield, who (in typical Japanese video game plot style) has amnesia.
Neither of them are required to do much in the way of acting. Mostly they just fire guns, run around in tight black pants, and discuss strategy. They’re joined by Chris, Claire’s brother (whom she doesn’t remember), played by Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller, who acts very suspiciously.
Coming off the last movie’s gritting wasteland setting, this movie is very clean looking. The opening and climax both take place in large, pure white rooms; which may make the action pop more, but also give it a very artificial look. More than the other Resident Evil movies, this one feels like a video game. The action scenes are staged like one, right down to the regenerating boss battle. The whole thing just looks too good, so it’s hard to really connect, or feel that the stakes are real.
Still, the middle part of the movie, with Alice and company trapped in the prison is effective, and evocative of Dawn of the Dead and Alien. The movie as a whole is a decent special effects driven movie. And the white rooms do set off Jovovich and Larter’s tight black pants very nicely.
The movie was shot in 3D using the same cameras as James Cameron did for Avatar. I watched the 2D Blu Ray, so I can’t comment on the 3D effect, but I can say that the way the action scenes were filmed seemed overly artistic. There was an inordinate amount of slow motion, and things being thrown directly at the camera. They really pull you out of the moment.
Minor Spoiler Comment:
There’s a weird plot whole in the movie. They are trapped in the prison because there is a veritable sea of walking dead completely surrounding it. So, we see them heading down a tunnel that presumably leads to the sewers, and the next scene is them on a boat?
It reminds me of King Kong, where they sedate the giant ape, then he’s in New York a second later, with no explanation of how they dragged him back to their ship.