Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Aryana Engineer, Bingbing Li, Boris Kodjoe, Johann Urb, Robin Kasyanov, Kevin Durand, Ofilio Portillo, Oded Fehr, Colin Salmon, Shawn Roberts, and more.
Directed by: Paul W S Anderson Writing Credits: Paul W S Anderson Cinematography by: Glen MacPherson Original Music by: tomandandy (Tom Hadju and Andy Milburn)
Premise: Captured after the unexpected attack by a brainwashed Jill at the end of "Resident Evil: Afterlife," Alice finds help from an unexpected source - her sworn enemy, Albert Wesker. His agent Ada and a small team of men have been tasked with setting Alice free and destroying Umbrella's underwater Siberian base. The Red Queen, Umbrella's AI, who has now taken over the facility, will not make the task easy. (Rated R)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The film gives unexpected avenues for the stars to show their acting acumen. Milla Jovovich has always done well in her action film roles, but we get to see another side of her talents in the early Suburbia section of the movie as a suburban housewife fighting for her life and reacting from it. Michelle Rodriguez also gets to show a different side as she too has multiple roles in the film. Aryana Engineer gave a good and layered performance despite her young years. The fact her character was handicapped and used voice and sign to communicate allowed for deeper layers for the character of Becky.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: As with each of the preceding "Resident Evil" film, the budget for this one was high, and they made great use of it. Some true hard work went into the film and it showed.
They did a great job integrating the zones of the base with computer simulations and tracking systems used by the Red Queen. They made great visuals and also kept the audience informed on who was where. The attention to detail was high and really came through as the groups traveled through the different zones.
There were fights and explosions galore. And in a nice reversal, we even got chainsaw wielding zombies! The amount of flying bullet casings was quite impressive as well. Dumb zombies, hungry zombies, Russian smart zombies, even armed and rocket launcher wielding zombies, it was a veritable smorgasbord of 'zombiness', which was a lot of fun.
There were the occasional segments of infinite bullet syndrome, but they did make the attempt to stay realistic on occasion.
The opening sequence was both unusual and attention grabbing. The franchise has always been very good with their openings - this one was one of the best.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: In previous reviews of the franchise I'd made the statement that as the budget went up, the story quality went down. I am rather pleased to say that in this instance, they broke the pattern. Of a whole, they kept the story simple and strait forward, which helped to keep it from careening into plot holes or other issues the "Resident Evil" films have shown in the past.
For those who've not watched the previous films, they have a quick recap picking up some of the most important details to share with the audience so they know what's what. For those who've watched them all, you'll get the added treat of seeing many of the characters from some of the previous films brought back, though not exactly as you've met them before. Made for some fun contrast and also gave some of the actors a chance to shine in a different line from the usual action personas.
A definite fun bit was the recreation of the opening sequence where the virus first showed up in Tokyo, Japan in "Resident Evil: Afterlife." They even got the same Japanese Business Man (Takato Yamashita) and the J Pop Girl (Mika Nakashima) to reprise their roles. Nice!
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: The choreography during the fights were 'top notch.' Combine them with the great special effects, and it made for a fabulous viewing experience. The fight with Alice, the chain, the gun, and the Japanese zombies will stay with me for a long time - it was a work of art. Everyone gave their best and then some.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The panning scene where you see exactly where Alice is when she escapes part of her prison was utterly breathtaking. Water was a recurring theme and used in some very imaginative ways. Loved the visual with Michelle Rodriguez towards the end.
The recreations of New York, Moscow, Tokyo, and American suburbia were exquisite. It made the contrast even better when the illusion would occasionally crack and show the facility beneath. There were several rooms in the base proper that had great impact due to the use of light. Loved the lighting up sequence at the central hub. Lots and lots of visuals to keep the eyes occupied.
Conclusion: A lot more fun than I was expecting. Definitely one to check out. Just the high doses of action will keep the audience's adrenaline pumping to high levels throughout. And yes, we get left in a cliff hanger - AGAIN.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again)