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Resident Evil: Afterlife: Kill Me

September 15, 2010
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Last Sunday night I received a phone call from a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a few months with a last-second-invitation for me to join him at the movies.  I leapt at the opportunity as the timing could not have been more perfect: my husband had commadeered the television for football-watching purposes (I don’t enjoy), and I’d wanted to reconnect and hang out with my pal for ages and I was already dregging the Fandango site for a potential movie-escape route when he called!  Owing to the late hour and our mutual interest in the horror genre, we opted to see Resident Evil: Afterlife.

I know.

I mean, I know.

What is a self-described lover of horror films doing messin’ around with the likes of the Resident Evil franchise?  It’s a bit like having a craving for filet mignon and opting to go to McDonalds for a burger, I suppose, but in the interest of full disclosure…I have sincerely enjoyed two of the four RE films.  Namely, I really liked the first one and I was sufficiently entertained by the third one.  Plus, I like Milla Jovovich a lot, I think she’s a bonafide action heroine and a good actress who is unfairly maligned.  The transition from supermodel to actress is generally an ungraceful one for most, so I think people kind of expected her to be awful and tend to dismiss some good work that she has done.  So there is that.   You can judge me, I willfully went to this movie with the expectations that it could be a good time.

What I got was a boring, confusing, un-scary potpourri of cinematic cliches. Grievously poor acting – the likes of which caused the shame muscles in my face to flare up;  every single action sequence was shot in slow-motion and then ramped-up – an unimaginative, technical crutch meant to pass as style;  the film showcases several perplexing stylistic tributes to The Matrix (which, 11 years later, seems more dated and out of place than you can possibly imagine); inexplicable characters popping up hither and thither without so much as an introduction (I assume their inclusion was intended as fan-boy service for those who play the games).  In short, it’s a bloated, goofy mess.

The following complaint is probably a bit of a girlie one, but I also found it odd that all of the actresses were so heavily made up, Milla’s L’Oreal contract notwithstanding.  I don’t know exactly how I would behave if faced with the task of surving a zombie apocalypse - I’m sure I would want a neat (but functional) outfit and everything - but I highly doubt that applying a full-face of slap each day would be high on my list of priorities.

For fun - let us briefly review the evolution of cosmetic application over the course of RE‘s installments:

<Resident EvilAlice is introduced while things in Raccoon City are still relatively normal.  She kicks off the movie by taking a shower (by which I mean, she wakes up on the floor of her giant, tiled shower after lying unconscious under running water for an unspecified – but long – period of time) and dresses as she would on any other day.  Though her attire is a skooch on the avant garde side, her make-up is understated – subtle and a perfectly reasonable part of her appearance.

>Resident Evil: Apocalypse – at this point we know that Alice’s DNA has been modified significantly by the presence of the T-virus in her body.  In addition to being a genetically enhanced super human with gifts of strength and speed, she is also so beautiful that she doesn’t need to dick around with anti-aging serums and concealer and what not.  Having recently escaped some sort of testing/holding facility clad in a simple – but impractical - white sheet, her priorities include finding clothing, sustenance and weapons.  Alice cobbles together an ensemble (and arsonal) from a near-by hunting/outdoor sporting goods store and goes about her business from there.  Her flair for peculiar outfits is still going strong (think torn, fishnet tank tops in Hunter Safety Orange and pants which weirdly and inexplicably are missing the thigh portion of the pair), though her hair appears to be slick with grease from being unwashed and her face scrubbed (somewhat) free of cosmetic assistance.

<Resident Evil: Extinctionnow we’re cooking with gas!  This is more like it.  Her outfit is still bugfuck (you can’t see it here, but Alice is wearing thigh-high garters made out of canvas or burlap, like you do) but it is - silliness aside - relatively  functional for the tasks at hand.  Her hair appears to have been self-cut and with a dull knife at that, which makes sense given that she is alone and on the run.  And!  And!  She not only appears to be bare-faced but actually spends most of the movie covered in a light dusting of filth!  This is the kind of attention to detail and realism that I have come to expect from my video-game-based-post-apocalyptic-zombie-films.  The bar is raised high, friends.

>Resident Evil: Afterlife -  Aaaaaaaaand then it all goes to hell.  Alice, now free of the effects/benefits of the T-virus, is more vulnerable and – apparently - more in need of cosmetic enhancement like the rest of us.  This photo really isn’t doing Jovovich’s make-up artist justice.  Blown up on the big screen, Alice’s visage is so burnished, rouged, powdered, lined, shadowed, mascara-d and glossed – her face looks like it belongs to a different person, someone who is wearing an evening gown, say - or competing in a drag-queen-off.  Continuity issues with her hairsuit aside, this is just beyond my ability to suspend disbelief.  I’m a girl, see – and I wear a bit of make-up myself – and so I know that putting on THAT much face takes some effort.  Time, application tools, good lighting, a shit-ton of make-up (and if you are like me, q-tips and make-up remover because I am crap at putting on make-up, I would be wiping off and starting over and finally would end up with nothing) – all of which are things that probably aren’t too handy when one believes she is the last living human on Earth and is fleeing from zombies.   Sure you can raid the abandoned Walgreens for cosmetics, but somehow I think loading up on bottled water, Power Bars and first aid supplies would rank higher on Alice’s To Do List than finding a foundation that exactly matches her skin tone, no?  And just so we are clear, the fact that I am fine with the lattice-crust bustier (pictured right;  ridiculous) should speak volumes about how glaringly, distractingly stupid the rest of this stuff all is.

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2 Responses to “ Resident Evil: Afterlife: Kill Me ”

  1. Alex on September 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

    It was a great movie, the acting was fine, the characters didn’t need to be introduced because we already knew who they were (claire, chris and wesker were from the games) and therefore needed no introduction or development because they were already well-known to us.

    The plot isn’t difficult to understand at all, Alice is trying to get to Arcadia to find the survivors of nevada, but discovers ****** hiding on the **** and it’s ******** who owns it.

    It’s a movie for people who like to have fun watching stuff, it made a lot more sense than Avatar did, which to me is overrated and really doesn’t have anything to offer except special effects and cgi.

    This series is the best adaptation of a videogame franchise ever, nothing compares to it, Prince Of Persia was a massive fail, tomb raider was awful and as for super mario bros and silent hill, well they’re just downright disgusting.

    I liked the film and a lot of my friends did too, we thought that the actions was extremely good.

    And why do you critics keep talking about the matrix with this? Sure they borrowed one scene from the matrix but the matrix also borrowed a scene from another movie of some guy falling from a window whilst shooting in a 1980′s movie, so technically the matrix stole that, not resident evil.

    I’d give the film a 9.5/10, it could have been longer but all in all it came together nicely and I really enjoyed the film, can’t wait for the fifth.

  2. Jane on September 15, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Hi Alex – thank you for leaving your comments, I appreciate you visiting the site and I always enjoy a good discussion about movies. I wouldn’t classify this piece as much of a review per se – but I would like to address some of your comments.
    As I mentioned earlier – I enjoyed the first and third installments of the RE film franchise, I don’t play the games but thought that the films were fun, scary and entertaining. I believe that an adaptation needs to work within it’s own medium and if you just look at RE4 as a film outside of the source material, I think that it has a lot of problems. I didn’t have any trouble following the plot, but the monologues and dialogue between characters was pretty insipid. The characters that kind of stood out to me as being kind of random were actually monsters and zombies – specifically the 14 foot tall thing that fights with Claire – though I didn’t even recognize Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine from the second film when she turned up in the ending credits. I thought that Ali Larter (Claire Redfield) and Wentworth Miller (Chris Redfield) were completely wooden and Shawn Roberts (Albert Wesker) gave a mortifying performance – channeling a constipated Agent Smith (from The Matrix). Speaking of which, I made comparisons to The Matrix because they are there – heavy-handedly so and glaringly derivative. I am fine with things being derivative and paying homage, by the way, I simply felt like using such iconic imagery felt out of place within this particular series. I think there were several stylistic references as well – not just with the action sequences and wire work stunts – which included, but were not limited to – using “bullet time” effects and actual “bullet time” bullet dodging – but several of the set pieces and costumes (Albert Wesker with his sunglasses and pleather trench/Neo; cloned Alice in her catsuit/Trinity) were straight out of the Matrix.

    The first Resident Evil remains my favorite and RE: Afterlife is the one I liked the least – which is interesting since they were both directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. I’m not sure what happened along the way, but I felt like this was a giant leap in the wrong direction.

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