Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

(On DVD, January 2011) I have an unaccountable soft spot for the Resident Evil films, and part of the fascination is seeing how the series continues to surprise even in its fourth installment: Not only has it squeezed two adventures after the logical end-point of most zombie movies (that is: the infection going global, everybody dying, etc.), the series has actually recovered from the awful second film and Afterlife continues to show how clever it can be in delivering polished visuals, action thrills and further developments to its own playful mythology.  Impressively enough, this installment depowers a seemingly omnipotent Alice after a deliriously overpowered first sequence.  Then it’s off to Los Angeles (via Alaska) for a little more of that claustrophobic Resident Evil setting.  A new crew is introduced, many of them discarded on the way to the conclusion, and there’s a nice little upswing to the conclusion. (Hint: don’t stop watching right after the credits start to roll and pay attention to the credited names that haven’t yet appeared in the film.)  I haven’t always been kind to director Paul W.S. Anderson, but his eye for impressive visual sequences is undeniable, and his return to the series helps make this fourth entry the strongest since the first one.  (This made-for-3D film looks really good even in 2D.)  Milla Jovovich doesn’t have to make any special effort to make another good impression as Alice.  Never mind the formula dialogue, characters or plot: the kick here is the same kind of over-the-top, hyper-glossy action visuals that the series has provided so far.  Even ten years after the first film, Afterlife proves that there’s a little bit of juice left in the series.

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