The good news for Paul W.S. Anderson is that Uwe Boll, his only serious competition for worst movie-maker in the biz, has another BloodRayne movie on the way.
The bad news is that Anderson has another Resident Evil movie in theaters. These two — a Brit and a German — will fight their World War II of the Worst until somebody stops them.
Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D begins just past the finale of the last film and ends with a cliffhanger. They’re not even pretending to wrap up this video game adaptation of a post-zombie apocalypse world. It’ll go on until Milla Jovovich puts her kids through college.
Alice ( Jovovich) is still stalking the evil Umbrella Corp., the folks who created the virus that made her super-strong and everybody else the Living Dead. Wesker (Shawn Roberts) is an Umbrella executive who never takes off his sunglasses; he’s seen Val Kilmer in Top Gun a few too many times. Alice shoots up his latest headquarters in Tokyo in the film’s opening moments. Then she sets out to find the refugees she packed off to Arcadia, Alaska.
Alice narrates her quest into a camcorder as she flies over the Great White North. She finds only one survivor, Claire (Ali Larter). And that sends them both to Los Angeles, where another tiny group is holding out against the undead.
It’s a tribute to Anderson’s genius that he throws these survivors (Boris Kodjoe, Kim Coates, Kacey Barnfield and others) into a prison. Because it’s L.A., he makes one of them an actor and another a producer. Then he shows us the last inmate there. Darned if it isn’t Wentworth Miller from TV’s Prison Break. No doubt Anderson thought he looked at home behind bars.
But it’s still a humorless movie of morphing zombies, phoned-in performances and trite dialogue.
“You can’t help him,” they say when one of their number is picked off. “We have to move on.”
Jovovich can act, as she proves in the October drama Stone. She used to give her all in Resident Evil movies. She still wears the leather jumpsuit with style, but she no longer runs as if her life depends on it. That’s a problem with the film. Characters saunter through deadly situations as if they know there’s a cliffhanger coming. No sense breaking a sweat.
And Anderson lets them. Even as legions of Umbrella minion troopers are hurled into combat, Anderson stages and shoots their scramble like a walk-through at the first day of rehearsals. The 3-D is mainly used to hurl shell casings into the audience.
In the World’s Worst Wars, it’s advantage Anderson. Boll’s BloodRayne: The Third Reich is on its way, but there will always be another Resident Evil to top it, unless Anderson’s dreaded take on The Three Musketeers (also starring Jovovich) ends that debate for good.