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Milla Jovovich (and husband) will eat your brain! “Resident Evil: Afterlife”

September 14, 2010

Arriving like a MOAB to cap off the summer movie season is Resident Evil: Afterlife—a movie that flaunts its B-status and boldly announces that it has no time being bogged down with pesky details like logic or coherency or even the laws of physics. Such things are for wussies, not for ass-kicking Milla Jovovich! What? You want gravity to affect people and objects? Go see a Bergman film. This is a Resident freakin’ Evil movie, where it’s perfectly normal for someone leaping through the air to stop and pivot. That shit just happens! Getting all pissy about suspending your disbelief when a waif-like heroine wields a machine gun one-handed? Hey, go back to the Ivy League, Mr. Hoity Toity! We’re here to see a hot chick kill zombies, and that’s it. If you feel a tingly sensation in your skull, that’s okay, that’s normal. It’s just your brain going to sleep. Or dying. But, hey, no biggie. It’s not like you’re going to need it for the next 90 minutes or so.

So this, um, twelfth installment? What are we on now? Who cares. This latest installment of the unkillable Resident Evil franchise (yes, it’s officially a franchise now, just accept it, like Sarah Palin) picks up where the last one left off. Remember the last one? Me neither. It was three years ago, and it’s not like this is the weightiest saga ever committed to celluloid. Actually, one of the cutest things about this (sigh) franchise is the way that it assumes the audience has committed the backstory and characters to memory. Does anyone really remember the details of these movies? If so, I don’t want to meet them.

All I remember about the last one was that Milla wore post-apocalyptic garters and at the end there turned out to be a clone army of her. Which, when you think about it, is a really good idea. I know I’d clone Milla Jovovich. She’s actually on my “People I’d Clone if I was a Mad Scientist” list. Truly, I made a list.

Okay, so this one opens with a bunch of Millas decimating an Umbrella Corporation facility deep beneath Tokyo. Umbrella is the pharmaceutical company that loosed the zombie plague on humanity. I guess the profit margin on erectile dysfunction drugs and hair-growth formula weren’t high enough. Well, the Millas pretty much make everyone into minced meat except for the head dude, Albert Wesker. Yeah, the shades-wearing Matrix-styled uber-bad guy has the name of a balding CPA. Well, he escapes in a V-22 just before setting the facility’s self-destruct, which, on the evidence, vaporizes most of the Pacific Rim. Fortunately, Wesker’s V-22 is real, real fast. Only problem is the real Alice has stowed away and attacks him. Wesker gets the upper hand, though, when he shoots her up with something that eliminates the magic T-cells in her blood that makes her superhuman. Okay, so we eliminated the clones and her superpowers…great that we watched all those previous installments just so they could push the RESET button.

Wesker is about to kill Alice when they accidentally crash into a mountain (note to budding supervillains: engage the autopilot before having a fight on your getaway Osprey). The craft explodes in a massive fireball…which the now-mortal Alice just walks away from (uh, what?) Flash forward a couple months and Alice is flying a little prop plane to Alaska to look for survivors in a place in a town which seems to be sending out a beacon. Once there she finds a bunch of other planes, but no human beings. At least not until she runs into her old friend Claire (Ali Larter) who has a mechanical spider-thingee attached to her cleavage, which seems to make her feral and forget pertinent details that would have prevent the rest of the story from happening. Hey, screw you, cleavage-mounted spider-thingee!

So after detaching the CMST, Alice and Claire fly to LA, searching for more survivors (uh, how much fuel does that plane have, anyway?) Once there, they hook up with some survivors who’ve holed up in an abandoned prison, waiting in vain for rescue from a tanker skulking off the coast. And the movie spends most of its time here in the (budget-friendly) prison set as we’re introduced to the people who will either A) aid effectively in their escape, or B) betray them, freak out, or end up as zombie chow. It’s pretty easy to tell who falls into which camp. There’s also a dude stuck in a Hannibal Lecter-like cage who could be a psychotic killer, or a scientist with the key to their escape? Which is he? Oh which one?

He’s a good guy. The movie spends about a nanosecond trying to wring suspense out of that scenario (heh…suspense! What do you think this is? Some European film?) before they get to the zombie attack. It’s all pretty by the numbers, except for this one super-mega-banzai zombie which is about twenty feet tall and carries a massive weapon that’s like a cross between a battle axe and a meat tenderizer. He’s the guy they’ve built most of the advertising around, and they dispatch him pretty quickly. We never even really see what the thing is, since he wears a hood and his face never shown. Hey, movie, why don’t you just spit in my popcorn too while you’re at it?

Okay, so they make it to the freighter, (traversing a zombie-infested LA mostly offscreen…nice), only to find that it’s a floating Umbrella facility that lures people in to put them in pods like the one Michael Jackson used to sleep in. Oh, and Wesker is there and he’s been ODing on the T-cells, which gives him mouth-tentacles and the ability to, uh, teleport, I guess. Anyway, he wants to eat Alice (logical, since she’s played by Milla Jovovich after all…oh wait, he meant literally), and she’s really not onboard with that plan. So they fight, and we get plenty of wire-fu and bullet-time, and all sorts of other crap that was fresh in 1999. Wesker dies (yay!) and the heroes set everyone free of their Michael Jackson pods and…oh no! There’s a fleet of V-22s coming with hundreds of Umbrella stormtroopers commanded by some chick sporting her own cleavage-mounted spider-thingee who may have been in one of the earlier movies (though, I don’t remember her). Cliffhanger!

Yeah, so this movie is fucking awful. I mean…Jesus. Trying to insult this movie by saying that it abandons any attempt at suspense or drama in order to put together as many trailer-ready stylized scenes actually gives it more credit than it deserves. Writer/director/Jovovich-husband Paul W.S. Anderson has never let a little thing like common sense or reality interfere with a computer-assisted action scene, but you know, you can only go to that well so many times. And that magic number is…about three minutes. Early on, when a bunch of guys empty their M4 rifles at Alice at point-blank range and miss…I mean, she didn’t even hide behind a wall or anything! And what is the point of making Alice normal again if she can still shake off blows that would pulverize her and plane crashes that would incinerate her, and can still leap hundreds of feet through the air, performing acrobatic fight moves like a Cirque du Soleil performer on a meth bender?  And now that humanity has all but been wiped out and zombies rule the land, why does the Umbrella Corporation dick around making mutant Dobermans and new monsters? Wouldn’t, uh, making something to wipe out the zombies be a little better for their bottom line? And how do they keep their facilities so pristine? What? They got a squad of illegal immigrant zombies mopping the floors?

I know, I know…it’s based on a video game and not supposed to be real. But come on. Movies have to have some tenuous tie to the real world, otherwise they don’t work. If you can just make shit up to fit your action scenes they cease to be engaging and end up just being a lot of noise. If I wanted to see a video game up on the screen, know what I’d do? I’d play a fucking video game! Oh, and Ali Larter can’t act. Even by this movie’s subterranean standards, she’s as interesting as a dead fish reciting bad dialogue.

And with that, the movie summer of 2010 slumps to a close. But with Resident Evil: Afterlife, it farts one out first. God, I hate you sometimes, Hollywood.

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