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Writer/director Paul WS Anderson has always had a great eye for camera angles, and he's improved enough at filming action sequences that they are now easy to follow and exciting to watch. Now if only he'd get someone else to write decent scripts for him rather than always doing it himself, he'd have a chance at directing his first truly great movie.Resident Evil: Afterlife is not a great movie. The first ten minutes are a ton of fun, but mainly because it's so completely nuts, not because it's actually good. I speak, of course, of the army of Super Alices (a flock of Alicen?) who have infiltrated Umbrella. It's completely insane and I love it.
Though I do feel a little sorry for anyone who didn't see the previous film before watching this one. While there's a lengthy recap before the movie starts, the clones are never mentioned. Once again it seems Anderson believes that confusing the audience is good storytelling.
If there's anything that left me disappointed, it was the movie wasn't just 90 minutes of the army of Super Alices blowing things up. Team Alice was too powerful to tell a dramatic story with, so they're removed entirely via a deck-clearing exercise in the form of an ecosystem-friendly nuke from Wesker.
The real Alice survives because she was hiding out on Wesker's getaway helicopter, waiting for him. But she makes the common mistake of talking instead of pulling the trigger, and Wesker manages to surprise her with depowering serum. Super Alice is now just regular Alice once again, but she thanks Wesker for making her "human again."
Then the helicopter crashes into a mountain.Despite being human again, Alice manages to survive. For those keeping score, this is the second time Alice has managed to survive a helicopter crash. She heads to Arcadia, which is where the survivors were supposed to be heading, but finds it deserted.
Since she has nothing better to do, she spend half a year in Arcadia waiting for signs of life. And wouldn't you know, it's not until the day that she decides to head back out that she finally finds someone. It turns out to be a rabbid Claire who has an Umbrella mind control device (from the games) attached to her. Alice removes the device, but Claire has complete amnesia.
But because this is a Paul WS Anderson movie, it's time to play the question game.
- How did Alice not see Claire in Arcadia for half a year when she's been there the entire time?
- Why did Umbrella just leave Claire there after putting the device on her, when it's later revealed that everyone else had been taken to a research lab? The two fly to Los Angeles, where they find some survivors holded up in an old prison. There are six survivors, plus one prisoner. The prisoner, by sheer coincidence, happens to be Claire's brother Chris Redfield. Apparently when the prisoners were first let out during an outbreak, they locked Chris in because he was a cop. The current survivors aren't any of the former prisoners, they just happened to make hole up in the building afterwards. It's unknown how long Chris has been in there, or how he fed himself in between the time that the prisoners evacuated and the band of survivors showed up.Now, the plot requires that Chris be let out of the prison because he knows the way out. The existing survivors all think he's a killer who was locked in there. Alice wants to let him out, but she has to convince the survivors he's okay. The most logical way to do this would be for Chris to see Claire before he's let out, and have Claire vouch for him, so that everyone is fine letting him out.But Paul WS Anderson never goes for logical solutions that involve characters behaving like real people. In his mind, this situation as a great opportunity for dramatic tension.
So he has Alice tell the survivors that this might be the only way out. They're unconvinced, but they do it anyways because they're desperate. And then, only after Chris is out, does he notice Claire. But Claire is still an amnesiac.The sight of Chris doesn't jog her memory, and she reacts with hostility to this prisoner claiming to be her brother.
The only reason for playing it this way is to make the audience feel similarly uneasy about whether or not Chris can actually be trusted. Except that this strategy is only works on people who are completely unfamiliar with the games and thus don't know who Chris is. A significant portion of the audience already know Chris is a good guy. And even the people who haven't heard of Chris are still going to realize that he's telling the truth when he calls Claire by name when none of the survivors previously told him her name.
Any potential dramatic tension is lost before it's even has a chance to build up. So what's the point?
Anyways, the survivors reveal that the Arcadia being referred to wasn't a town, it's a ship just off the coast. With the help of Alice, Claire, and Chris, the survivors are able to defeat Pyramid Head and escape the prison base. Once at the elevator, they have trouble getting it to go down, so Alice plants a bomb at the top of it and fights off zombies. Somehow this bomb doesn't completely destroy the elevator, and somehow the elevator shooting downward at full speed doesn't kill the survivors after a puddle of water at the bottom breaks their fall.
Also, somehow a second bomb that Alice plants is capable of blowing up the entire roof and all the zombies on it, despite the first bomb not being strong enough to destroy the elevator. And somehow Alice is able to superhero her way from the roof to the ground and then battle through an army of zombies despite no longer having superpowers.
Oh no, it turns out the Arcadia ship is a trap! The lower level has a door with a big Umbrella symbol. Claire suddenly gets her memory back and announces it's a trap, just in case they still wasn't clear. So of course they walk in anyway, and the door locks behind them. Within is numerous survivors in stasis tubes. Alice find another door at the other end. She once again walks right in, and once again the door locks behind her, where she finds Wesker waiting for her, sitting on a throne like Tetsuo.
At this point, it seems that Anderson either didn't know how to end this movie, or he thought it would be clever to end and then un-end it several times in a row.
Ending #1: The battle with Wesker leaves him clearly dead, because he's missing half his head. But then he starts moving again, so Chris and Claire continue put bullets into him (but into his chest rather than his head for some reason).
Ending #2: Finally happy that they've finished off Wesker, they head back to the upper level of the ship. Suddenly a helicopter takes off, because Wesker has already fully regenerated and ran with lightning speed over there.
Ending #3: But Alice expected that and secretly planted a bomb on the helicopter. It blows up, and Wesker is clearly really dead this time. Except that he's already survived a helicopter crash before, plus he's survived losing half his head, so he's clearly not dead.
Ending #4: But the characters have once again decided its finally over. They're going to use the Arcadia to sail the world in search of any remaining survivors. Which would have been a brilliant, satisfying ending. Even if they decided to continue the series later, at this point they could leave with the mental image of these people sailing the world.
But no, that would have shown maturity and restraint. Instead, an army of Umbrella helicopters surround the ship, followed by the credits rolling. He had the perfect ending, and he ruined it. He just couldn't leave it alone.
And yet despite the awfulness of the script, it's probably my favorite of the Resident Evil movies. It's the most polished of the turds. But mainly for those first ten minutes.