Micheal Compton, The Daily News, firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to movie franchises, I don’t think there is one that leaves me scratching my head more than “Resident Evil.”
Adapted from a video game, this is a series that continues to churn out product - with the fourth installment, “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” the latest entry.
And like the other three, “Afterlife” proves to be lifeless - a mind-numbing action film that may appease the fanboys, but brings nothing to the table for anyone else.
Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, the primary protagonist fighting an evil corporation responsible for a worldwide epidemic that has turned most of the world’s population into zombies.
In this installment, Alice joins a group of survivors looking to locate a mysterious, but supposedly unharmed, safe haven.
When they arrive at the destination they believe to be the site of this safe haven, Alice and the group discover a city overrun by the undead - putting everyone in jeopardy.
If this plot sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is pretty much the same setup as the previous three. I guess the familiarity will play well to “Resident Evil” fans, but for everyone else it just makes for a stale product that never gets out of its own way.
Writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson, the man behind the original and the first “Mortal Kombat” film, tries to make the film visually interesting with stop-motion shots and lots of slow-motion effects during the action sequences. This may have worked in “The Matrix,” but it’s something that is way overdone here - turning what should have been a 60-minute movie into a 95-minute film.
The acting is just as uninspired. Jovovich looks tired and uninterested, while the rest of the cast (including Ali Larter) are disposable and quite forgettable.
Sadly, talk has already begun for Part 5 - with Jovovich confirming she’s set to play Alice again. That’s really a shame, because if ever a franchise needed to have the plug pulled, this would be the one.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is the latest incarnation of Robin Hood (B-), which marks the big-screen reunion between Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott, both of whom won Oscars the last time with the overpraised “Gladiator.”
This may not have had the same impact as the previous pairing, but I think it is actually the better film. It manages to overcome a dreadful start before settling in to be a mildly entertaining piece of puff.
Written by Brian Helgeland, the man behind “Mystic River” and “L.A. Confidential,” this tale is actually more of a back story about Robin Hood, with Crowe playing an archer in the army of Richard the Lionhearted.
When the king dies in battle, Robin travels to Nottingham, where he falls for a spirited widow named Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett). At first, Robin helps Marian and her father-in-law (Max Von Sydow) fight the corrupt sheriff, but the battle broadens when England is threatened by a French invasion.
I had low expectations going into “Robin Hood” and for about the first hour, my fears were realized. But about the time Robin arrives in Nottingham, the film starts to gain momentum. There are a couple of nice action sequences that build to a final beachfront battle that is well-paced and a splendid visual achievement (high on the coolness factor).
This is also a film with a little more humor than the ads suggest, especially in the second half, which helps greatly to overcome the 150-minute running time.
The cast also keeps it interesting. Blanchett is good in just about anything she does, and she has nice chemistry with Crowe. Von Sydow, William Hurt and even Mark Addy also bring a sense of respectability to the project.
It all adds up to a little bit of light entertainment worth a look on home video.
“Robin Hood” is rated PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content, and will be available Tuesday on DVD.