Paul W.S Anderson
Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Sienna Guillory, Milla Jovovich
The movie is a straight continuation of the last movie, Resident Evil: Extinction, narrative-wise
Resident Evil: Afterlife follows on directly from Extinction as Alice (Jovovich) continues her fight against the evil Umbrella corporation, this time embodied in the foreboding features of Albert Wesker, played by Shawn Roberts. It promises plenty of over the top action, without relying too heavily on the games which have inspired it. In fact, one of the strangest things about the Resident Evil series is how rarely it intersects with the established canon of the games. Familiar characters come and go but rarely bear much resemblance to their video game counterparts while the films have increasingly relied on large scale set pieces rather than the more slow paced survival horror of the games.
For Afterlife, Alice is joined by more game regulars than ever before, including the return of Ali Larter’s Claire Redfield (from Extinction) and rumours that Sienna Guillory may reprise her role as Jill Valentine. New to the films but a fan favourite from the games is Chris Redfield, played by Prison Breaks Wentworth Miller. Those darn dogs are also back again (looking even more grotesque than before) but Anderson has also taken heavy inspiration from 2009’s Resident Evil 5 – in everything from production and creature design to entire set pieces. Anyone who has seen the trailer will immediately recognise the terrifying Executioner Majini (the guy with the massive axe) and the evolution of the zombie horde now includes the Blade II-like mandibles from the game.
Also new to the series is 3D and while we have certainly seen some terrible examples of post-production 3D in recent months (The Last Airbender and Clash of the Titans, I’m looking at you) Anderson was intent on shooting the film for the format. His obsession with the extra dimension started when he was invited by James Cameron to view some very early footage of Avatar and he immediately licensed the Fusion camera system designed by Cameron and Vince Pace. Anderson even secured Pace’s involvement in the film – keen to create an experience which doesn’t rely on cheap 3D tricks.
The Resident Evil franchise has also been quite a personal journey for its star and director. In 2002, Jovovich was coming off a series of duds and had divorced The Fifth Element director Luc Besson after just a year of marriage in 1999. Resident Evil catapulted her back into the international spotlight once more and paved the way for a series of action roles. The film also introduced her to Anderson, who proposed in 2003 and the two were eventually married in 2008, after the birth of their first child in 2007. As the constant writer/star team behind the series, Resident Evil has becomes something of a family business for Jovovich and Anderson. He says the balance isn’t always easy: “It is difficult, although Milla and I don’t try and divide our work and personal life. We’re similar in many ways. She grew up working from the age of 11, so she’s always been in this industry and I’ve been obsessed with movies since I was a little kid. So we love film and love our work and see no reason not to talk about it when we come home. It has become the family business, and that’s not a bad thing. The first Resident Evil and this one are my two best and happiest filmmaking experiences.”
In a world of commodified PG-13 horror movies and increasingly dire attempts to cash in on the booming video game industry (Prince of Persia anyone?) there’s something extremely refreshing about an R-rated series of game adaptations that not only still draw in impressive box office numbers but have managed to keep their budgets moderate and not fall prey to merely recycling elements from the originals. The focus on the character of Alice gives the films their own unique flavour and an autonomy which helps to draw in mainstream audiences without alienating fanatical fans by meddling with canon. Best of all, Anderson is not just content to make a gimmicky 3D film which thrusts errata at the viewer for cheap thrills; “Obviously the whole 3D thing makes the movie experience very involving and immersive; it’s not just stuff sticking out the screen. It’s like a window into a world, and for movies that are trying to immerse you in different world, like our big post-apocalyptic vistas in Resident Evil. It makes scary movies more scary and action movies more exciting…”
With the franchises creator back in the director’s chair and a world leading 3D system on board, Resident Evil: Afterlife is shaping up to be the best entry in the series yet.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is in Irish cinemas from the 10th of September.