Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The movie Ma and I had planned to go and see tonight was only on at really unhelpful times (before 4pm or after 8:30pm... which just seems dumb to me, especially for an animated movie) so we skipped official movie night.
However, given that I'd been thinking about going to see Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D at some stage, tonight seemed like the perfect opportunity.
On the way home after the movie I was pondering what we've actually seen in 3D since this whole craze started up again, and I think the majority of it has been animated movies... How to Train Your Dragon (on our second viewing), A Christmas Carol, Up, Bolt and The Nightmare Before Christmas... in fact the only "live action" movie we've seen would be Alice in Wonderland (hence the quotes around live action... but technically I think that also needs quote marks around the fact that it was "in 3D" since it was more than a little dodgy).
And I have to say that for the most part (once I went out and got them to fully open the curtains so the whole screen was showing) the 3D in RE:A was excellent. I was also surprised that I didn't walk out of the movie with the kind of headache I usually end up with.
There were a couple of instances of the action looking a little stuttery, but that could have been a combination of the 3D and camera tricks I'm not exactly sure. I think it's more likely that it was an unintended side effect of the 3D though. And it may have been something that I got used to, since I only really noticed it at the beginning.
The only real 3D clanger I could see was a shot in an airfield where you could see where the digital matte painting started since it looked exactly like a painting had been stuck across the back of the shot. I also questioned whether shots that were essentially "things on screens" or video playback really needed to have a 3D element to them... surely they should be completely flat otherwise they stop being believable?
And yes, there are a number of instances of "stuff" flying out at the screen... shuriken, bullets, giant axes, etc... but I think that the 3D also adds to the "boo" factor of a couple of scenes. Even when I knew that there was a scare coming, it still made me jump I think because it felt more real.
But enough about the 3D... lets talk about the movie...
To sum it up in the briefest way possible... "Woohoo... oh... m'eh"
Of course I'll elaborate on that.
The opening of the movie is strong (and to be honest, I think it's one of the pieces that showcase the 3D in it's best light), it picks up pace, collects some of the story elements from previous movies (specifically from the previous instalment), sets off at a run with them... and then at some point, to continue the running analogy, the movie trips over it's own shoelaces and stumbles towards a completely unsatisfying and anti-climatic end.
Part of the problem I think is the pace and part of it is a wonky script. In the first movie they're trapped in an underground facility and spend the whole movie trying to escape from it... lots of tension, lots of opportunity for plot and character development. In the second movie (which has never been a particular favourite of mine), they're trapped inside a whole city and have to find a way out... somewhat less tension, but there is still a fair amount of plot and character going on. In the third movie they spend a lot of time driving around and... actually, even though I saw a chunk of it when it was on teevee the other night, I'm not completely sure what the hell happens in the third instalment... I do know that it feels very matriarchal though... and there is definitely plot going on, although it's fairly simple.
But every time Afterlife settles into what you think is going to be the big location for the movie where they can spread out and let some plot and tension happen, it ends up feeling remarkably like they just barrel on out of whatever jam they're in remarkably easily. The movie also manages to feel like something of a rehash of parts of the first three movies as well as having a decidedly Dawn of the Dead (the remake) feel to certain scenes.
Although I haven't played the video games I am aware of them and I know that there are the big "Boss" monsters that inhabit the games. And they use one of those monsters about halfway through the movie, but unlike the previous movies where there has always been a reason for those critters to be around (they were let out when the power was turned off, Eric Mabius went all Project Nemisis, Iain Glen shot himself full of anti-virus), there is absolutely no reason for "Axeman" (as he's called in the credits) to show up. His scene is great and it's a nice action piece, but why he's there is never explained and it seems incredibly random.
And yes, I know... expecting well thought out plot in a Resident Evil movie is an oxymoron of some sort... but the other movies have at least followed their own internal logic.
It also didn't help that the major Big Bad played by Shawn Roberts was essentially acting like a reject out of a second rate Matrix knock-off and was in no way threatening... (and, if I'm allowed a brief spoiler... was despatched at the end of the movie with a trick from the Wile E Coyote handbook).
For all that they rush headlong for the end of the movie, there really isn't any great resolution when the credits start to roll. Nobody really does a grand "here is my evil plot" speech, there isn't especially any major nasty critter they need to vanquish. They just leave it on a slightly weak cliffhanger for the next movie and I really didn't feel like the movie got resolved... it felt much more like it had just been placed on hold.
Overall, the word I want to use is "rushed"... it definitely felt rushed.
Having said all of that though, it was still a fairly enjoyable movie... and you get exactly what it says on the box... there's zombies and monsters and swords and guns and cool kung fu action and some very decent 3D plus, as always, there's Milla Jovovich who is always worth watching, especially in this kind of big action movie.
Fortunately Ali Larter more than holds her own, even though her character doesn't seem to have a great deal to do, but even so she manages to show off the acting chops that she never quite seemed able to let out in her work on Heroes.
Other than that the rest of the cast is fairly forgettable... even Wentworth Miller doesn't manage to provide very much eye candy (in one scene I could have sworn he was looking a little chunky around the middle).
It's definitely not the best of the Resident Evil franchise... but at the same time I don't believe that it's the worst (I still think that would be the second one). I do think that if it's worth seeing it's worth seeing in 3D.
yani's rating: 7 robot chest spiders out of 10