‘Go Ask Alice…’
September 20, 2012
It isn’t surprising to find the latest (fifth) “Resident Evil” installment short on story, but it’s disappointing to discover that it fails to construct the inventive aspects creating the nail-biting fun of the previous four.
Based on a video game, the series is set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world where the Umbrella Corporation’s T-virus is mutating humans and animals into zombies. Since the second episode, it’s been difficult to suspend my disbelief that despite a world overrun by zombies, the Umbrella Corp. manages to remain viable.
Alice, the protagonist portrayed by writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson’s wife, Milla Jovovich, continues to imbue her character with catlike grace and the physicality of a martial arts master. Her performance constitutes the only justification to see this chapter since the story as well as its monsters and zombies has become dull and predictable.
Hoping to add interest, Anderson uses cloning to resurrect favorites from Alice’s old team. Promisingly, he drafts a few of these to the dark side, but whichever side they are on, all prove instantly disposable. Boo! The special effects rendered in 3D, have a glossy sheen, but are unlikely to elicit the surprises or scares required to make us invest in Alice as anything more than eye-candy.
As she awakens in an underwater Umbrella Corp. facility, a group of rebels simultaneously break in to help her escape, and must do so before the bombs they’ve set to detonate in two hours, level the labyrinth.
They and Alice spend the film’s first half attempting to find one another, and its second, attempting to make their way to one of several escape portals.
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Their efforts to leave Umbrella are consistently hindered by cloned soldiers, or a cartoonish troll that appears to have been hijacked from the “Harry Potter” films.
All the while, the little girl appearing as Umbrella’s Red Queen computer program, barks orders in her tinny British accent.
There was a time, three installments ago, when this character sent ice-water coursing through my veins, but these days, I get a colder sensation from my soft drink.