Resident Evil: Afterlife
September 10, 2010
On the Big Board
|Film school classes should study the brilliant build-up of the axe-swinging guy. That's how you slowly tease an audience, heightening their anticipation.
|The first 20 minutes of this may be the most ridiculous length of film I have ever seen. That's not entirely awful, but wow. (dude - Alaska to L.A. in a single prop plane in *two days*)
In 1996, video game giant Capcom unleashed Resident Evil upon unsuspecting gamers worldwide. A smart blend of puzzles, action, and spooks immediately latched on with critics and fanboys alike. The title would spawn a smorgasbord of sequels, prequels, and spin-offs. It also created an entirely new genre of video game, often referred to as “survival horror.” Forty million units sold later, Resident Evil still packs a punch in the gaming world.
Not one to miss a trend (albeit a tad tardy), Hollywood thought it was time for Resident Evil to get the big screen treatment in 2002. Sony picked up the rights and tapped genre veteran Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon) to direct the adaptation. Optioning a hugely successful video game franchise might seem like an obvious move, but keep in mind the failure rate for most game-to-movie titles was astronomically high. This is still largely true, but was even more so at the time. Still, Sony saw promise in the project, giving it a modest $35 million dollar budget and cast model-cum-actress Milla Jovovich as the lead.
The original Resident Evil grossed a so-so $40 million stateside, but managed a nice $63 million from foreign territories. After factoring in DVD rentals and sales, Sony made a tidy profit from the venture and smelled a franchise. Two more entries followed, pessimistically titled Apocolypse”and Extinction. They both followed the same tried and true formula: catchy ads + zombie action + sexy Milla = Ka-ching! The budgets came in at around $50 million a piece and both wound up around the mid nine figures worldwide. These movies did not receive the critical reception of there video game counterparts but they did serve up some shameless fun.
Anderson voluntarily took a back seat to other directors for the sequels but stayed involved with the projects as both a writer and producer. Skirting directorial duties allowed him to chase after the gorgeous Ms. Jovovich. His efforts paid dividends and the pair tied the knot in an August 2009 wedding. In either an odd coincidence or a lucrative wedding present, Sony announced an unexpected fourth installment of the ‘RE’ series, with Milla starring and Anderson directing.
Anderson has a slew of titles in development or pre-production, but as a director he has worked sparingly since the first entry back in 2002. His only credits since are Alien vs. Predator and Death Race. Before the first ‘RE’ he oversaw the giant bomb Soldier and the terrible, if successful Mortal Kombat. If you are wondering how someone can stay in the business with such a hideous CV then pick up Event Horizon. Just don’t blame your nightmares on us.
The Ukrainian knockout Jovovich has kept up a wildly diverse resume. She has appeared anywhere from indie fare (Chaplin) to kooky comedies (Zoolander) to historical epics (The Messenger). In a sense she is a perfectly odd choice to anchor an action franchise. Those roles are usually reserved for muscular men or Angelina Jolie. Despite the odd casting Milla has worked well for the franchise. She brings talent, requisite eye candy, and a willingness to defer to the special effects as needed.
Dubbed Resident Evil: Afterlife, Milla’s Alice will continue her (apparent) never ending battle with the insidious Umbrella Corporation. The script has been kept under wraps (read: they don’t have a clue about the storyline), but the settings have been rumored to take place in Japan and Alaska. Anderson pumped up the expectations for Afterlife at Comic-Con, promising a bigger budget and a 3D outing. Each sequel made more than the last, so it will be interesting to see if a larger production equals a greater outcome. (Brian Pew/BOP)