Saturday, September 18, 2010

RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE - 2010 - 3D AND ME!


RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE
AN ADDED DIMENSION BRINGS ADDED LIFE!
or
3D AND ME!
by Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein

Way back in February of this year, when Avatar was still raking in millions of mega-bucks at the box office, I wrote a short post about 3D: http://guardiansofthegenre.blogspot.com/2010/02/to-3-d-or-not-to-3-d-that-is-question.html. The gist of the article was that I didn't understand why someone would pay almost twice as much for a ticket to see a film in 3D, which I thought was just a gimmick to make more money. My fellow blogger at Guardians of the Genre had experienced the new 3D technology first-hand and convinced me that I should try it before criticizing it. Over half-a- year later, Professor Photon and I attended a 3D screening of Resident Evil : Afterlife. I'm a wicked big fan of the Resident Evil films and have seen all three of them at the theater, so I felt seeing a film that I had every expectation of enjoying would be the best way to try the new 3D gimmick... er, sorry... technique out.




Before I assess the 3D process, I want to review the film itself. Resident Evil: Afterlife takes place almost immediately after the events of Resident Evil: Extinction. The film begins with an visual feast of a scene of Alice and her army of clones attacking the Umbrella Corporation facility in Tokyo, in an attempt to kill Albert Wesker, who was the villain behind the experiments on her clones in RE:E. The facility is destroyed - and all of Alice's clones with it - but Wesker escapes in an aircraft, which Alice prime has hidden in. This prologue to the film sets  the rest of the film up perfectly and demonstrates just how dedicated Alice is to bringing the hurt on the UC and the corporate baddie that represents it. Wesker averts death at Alice's hands by doing something to Alice which I don't want to go all spoiler here, because it changes her character significantly from the previous film. Alice wakes up alone in the wrecked craft, but eventually finds an old prop-plane which she flies in an attempt to rejoin Claire and the others who flew to Alaska in search of Arcadia. Alice finds Claire wandering a desolate beach in Alaska, but she is alone and has no memory of how she got there or where the rest of the refugees are. This is the one point in the film where you question Alice's course of action, but not enough to spoil the film. Alice flies south with Claire, seeking out more refugees. They spot a few survivors from the air, on the roof of an abandoned prison in Los Angles, but they are trapped there because it is surrounded by hundreds of hungry zombies! Another boffo scene shows Alice landing the plane on the roof of the prison, nearly crashing on impact! The rest of Resident Evil: Extinction involves Alice helping the small group of survivors escape the prison, fighting off hoards of zombies, and eventually trying to the find the elusive sanctuary of Arcadia.




I thought Resident Evil: Afterlife was the best film since the original! Like most film series, the first film is usually the best and Resident Evil (2002) I still consider to be the best of the RE trinity. Not to take anything away from RE: Extinction or RE: Apocalypse, but the first film had a visual style and a building of tension that the other two somewhat lacked. Despite the fact the Paul W. S. Anderson wrote the screenplay for all four RE films, his direction of the first and now the latest film shows that he can use the camera to pace the action and drama of his scripts better than others. I guess I'm a fan of directors who use a stylised form of story telling, which is why I like Anderson's RE helmed films the best. Anderson has directed many other genre films as well; my favorites being Deathrace and Alien vs. Predator (which shares similar claustrophobic settings to RE). Because Anderson wrote the scripts for all four Resident Evil films, this explains the careful continuity between each film, as well as the feeling of one long continuous story over the four film cycle. The Resident Evil films get a bum rap from critics and even some fans, I suspect primarily because they are based on a video game. Most video game films have been dreadful, but the Resident Evil films use the basic premise of the game (which is a good solid sf premise) and some of the characters (which are rudimentary archetypes) as a springboard for a richer world and slightly more nuanced characters. Yes, the Resident Evil films are primarily a series of violent action scenes, but there is enough care given to the characterization, so that their actions are understood, and -- more importantly -- their peril is more greatly felt. If there is any detraction at all from the series thus far, it is a lack of a certain finality to the plot. Like many long running prose fiction series, as long as the point-of-view character (in the case if RE - Alice) is alive, then his/her quest/goal/journey/purpose will continue indefinitely. If you like long running series -- which I do -- this is not a problem. However, I can see how a more casual fan of RE might appreciate more of a definite conclusion at the end of each film and Resident Evil: Afterlife specifically.




Now to get down to the nitty gritty of  this new (okay, new to me) 3D tech! The use of the new "REAL 3D" process on Resident Evil: Afterlife did, I can honestly say, add to my enjoyment of the film. How much did it add? I'd say perhaps 20% more. The action scenes were obviously the segments of the film that benefited the most from the 3D effect. When Alice leaps toward the camera, or throws objects at the camera, these things literally jump off the screen at you! The 3D also helped add depth to the long shots in the film; especially during the flying sequences over the desolate and ravaged cityscapes and landscapes. One thing the 3D process had trouble with were translucent objects. The plums of smoke rising from the ground in many of the scenes looked as though they were floating on their own plane and seemed out of sync with their surroundings. The only scene ruined by the 3D was the (thankfully) brief underwater scenes, where Alice and a few other are swimming through murky water-filled hallways beneath the prison. This scene was so blurry I briefly took off my glassed to see if it looked any better without them (it didn't). Speaking of the glasses: They had been a big concern of mine, because I do wear corrective glasses and I was worried that the 3D glasses wouldn't fit comfortably over them. Fortunately, the black plastic glasses are slightly over-sized and did fit easily over my corrective specks. Overall, the 3D experience was a good one and I would try it again in the future. But -- you knew there was a but coming -- the price for the 3D show was $11.00, which is nearly double what I pay for the matinee showing of the traditional 2D films. I think that if there was only a dollar or two difference in price, I might see even more films in 3D. However, until that time, I'll be seeing 3D only on special films that I think will benefit the most from the process.

There you have it! I give a wicked high recommendation to Resident Evil: Afterlife and a moderate, but still positive review of the new "Real 3D".


5 comments:

  1. Love the Doc! Terrific, fun write-up as usual!

    My friend you have prompted me to write a few additional thoughts.

    First, do you know, Resident Evil: Afterlife is my first experience seeing an RE film at the cinema. I saw the original three on DVD, then Blu-Ray for Extinction. I have them all on Blu-Ray now. This observation you have prompted me to note is as follows: the Resident Evil franchise has grown for me to be a stronger force than I originally ever intended it to be.

    I checked out Resident Evil [for Milla of course] on a whim and found that I liked it alot! Apocalypse arrived and I loved it. Oddly, Extinction arrived and for whatever reason I did not see it until long after its arrival on Blu-Ray. When I did finally check it out, I realized how much I love, love, love the Resident Evil franchise. This is why my recent post prompted my defense of the series.

    Resident Evil is an incredible franchise and regardless of the naysayers it is filled with scares, excitement, originality [and some not] and overall sci-fi horror combinations that are infections [pun not intended]. The T-Virus, Umbrella, you name it. All of it is a story driven by Milla Jovovich and her husband Paul W. S. Anderson and it never tires.

    Wouldn't it be something if this series went something like 6-10 films? Is that impossible? I'm not so sure.

    So, as for the clone wars, although smaller, I would have to go with the Clone Wars here over the one in Star Wars. I thought it was excellent.

    The plane landing sequence was breathtaking and honestly her explosive run off the top of that building was FREAKING GLORIOUS! She was beautiful to watch. Amazing stuff.

    So, I completely understand your point about Anderson's hand on RE and the new entry. You may have a valid point. RE was a visually striking picture and varied. I think your points are well-taken about the second and third entry although the visual stryle in both those films is complete, unified and unique within itself. They are distinct chapters in the story visually too and I do respect the directors behind the look of those pictures.

    You make some great points about the rich story of RE. You were right on. Interestingly, your point about people having a problem with open-ended storytelling is surprising isn't it? I mean, it's okay for people to endure the Star Wars prequels or the much better original trilogy, but RE continuity is just old, stale or derivative! WhAT!?

    You know what I mean. Your point about its video game origins has probably not helped its cause. You're right my friend.

    Finally, your take on the 3D is perfect. I reserve it for special ocassion like this one and I won't waste a penny on upconverted films like Clash Of The Titans or what have you. Beside, Clash was garbage in 2D too.

    3D is a nice treat but, as I mentioned at my site, I can't wait for the 2D Blu-Ray. Also, once again, you were right there Doc, those underwater sequences were poorly lit and no 3D in the world could save them. Quite frankly they will look horrible in 2D too, because they were poorly executed, but it's a brief segment in an otherwise brilliant film for the genre. RE never lets down!

    Glad you enjoyed the picture. I would be willing to see it again. Live long and prosper guardian! Great work here and a fun read.

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  2. Thanks for the kind words on my review of both Resident Evil: Afterlife and the 3D process. I've enjoyed your posts both defending in reviewing RE:A over at your blog Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic. At least there are two of us in the blogosphere defending what has been the most consistently entertaining horror-sf franchise of the decade!

    Seriously? Six to ten more Resident Evil films? As much as I love this series, and Milla Jovovich in particular, at the current rate of four films every eight years... that would mean Resident Evil 10 would be coming to theaters in the year 2022! Milla will be 47 (and still smokin' hot), but I'll be 64 and by then I'll be far too mature and sophisticated to enjoy this type of film. HA! Who am I kidding?! I'll still be eating the Resident Evil franchise up! Bring it on!

    Heh! Nice joke about the clone wars. I agree. I'll take more Alice clones over Boba Fett clones any day!

    I too look forward to buying Resident Evil: Afterlife on blu-ray and watching it in vivid high-definition 2D! Thanks again for all your comments about my post on our mutual obsession: Resident Evil.

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  3. Uh Oh - Six to ten more Resident Evil films!I see a few artsy fartsy science fiction films in your future as payback, Freak. Although I have to admit the RE franchise kinda rocks for a film comprised of a series of violent action scenes. *said tongue in cheek* I was pleased that my prodding you to go see a 3D movie was a positive experience despite the excessive price for a ticket. Sign me up for the next in the RE series!

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  4. Do they even make "artsty fartsy" science fiction films any more, Prof? Of, course, if anyone knows about what films are going to be released in the future, it would be you.

    As you well know, it didn't take much "prodding" to get me to go see Milla Jovovich in 3D.

    Readers of Guardians of the Genre! You are my witness! Professor Phileas Photon has agreed to see the next Resident Evil film!

    So how many more sequels will there be, Prof? Professor? Where did he go?

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