Sunday, September 12, 2010


    Just like the zombies in the Resident Evil series; the movies just won't stay dead! The fourth installment in the popular zombie franchise has arrived and it is bigger and badder (but not necessarily better...)! Now in eye-straining, headache inducing 3D, Resident Evil: Afterlife stars Milla Jovovich reprising her role as the super-powered zombie killer, Alice.  After the events of the third movie Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Alice has been waging a one-woman war against The Umbrella Corporation, the evil, multi-national conglomerate who developed the T-Virus bio-weapon which caused the zombie apocalypse, only this time...she's not alone! Alice has her own army of clones to attack Umbrella's underground base beneath Tokyo and goes up against the top bad guy Albert Wekser (Shawn Roberts). After Wesker escapes (as he always does in the games) Alice resumes her search for the survivors from the last film like Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and K-Mart (and yes, that is her character's name)Spencer Locke. Her search takes her to the remote regions of Alaska and then back down to Los Angeles where she meets another group of survivors (and more extraneous characters) including Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), a character from the original game. As Alice and the other survivors try to make their way to safety, the inevitable conflict between Wesker and Umbrella must soon come to a climax!
    The convoluted story of the Resident Evil film franchise always brings more thrilling (and sometimes bewildering) cliffhangers which will obviously culminate in the fifth Resident Evil movie most likely slated to be released sometime around 2013? Since the end of the second movie "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" (2004) the story has veered off into bizarre plot-points and twists which somehow complicate even further with Alice (already a formidable ass-kicking heroine) possessing new psychic/telekinetic powers having been infected with the T-virus and now part of an army of "Alice's" in the new movie. I have been a huge fan of the Resident Evil games as well as the movies, but it gets to a point when the story goes too far and you wonder when will enough be enough!? Since the first movie in 2002 the filmmakers initially kept the movies and games separate with merely keeping the atmosphere and back-story of the games in the movies with Alice being a totally original character that does not appear in the games. With the release of "Apocalypse" fans of the games like myself got a treat with the inclusion of game characters such as Jill Valentine (
Sienna Guillory), Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and of course Nemesis from the game Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. When the third movie came along there was the addition of Clair Redfield, the main character from the first game played by Ali Larter (Heroes). It seems like every movie they have to add another character or villain from the game to make fans happy but I have to admit add almost nothing to the actual movie storyline and the filmmakers either kill them off in the next movie (Carlos Olivera) or don't bring them back at all (Jill Valentine)?! At least with "Extinction" and "Afterlife" we get a consistent villain with Wesker (although two different people played him in the movies). Again the same scenario plays out in "Afterlife" with the addition of the Ganados from "Resident Evil 4" (which is one of my favorites although technically, they're not even zombies!) and the Axe-Man from the recent "Resident Evil 5" game (which doesn't even make sense)!
    The action in "Afterlife" is so over the top and with the addition of the more agile and fast-running zombies as in "Extinction" and with Alice's new powers everything becomes an over-done, hyper-active nightmare.
It has more slow-motion fight scenes and "bullet-time" special effects than all 3 "Matrix" movies combined! It never fails when Alice has to jump or make some sort of complicated stunt it goes into slow-motion and we watch close-ups of her bullets as they fly through the air never (missing her mark) as they explode into a zombie's head!
    Another aspect of "Resident Evil: Afterlife" is the addition of the 3D process which has gained both popularity and criticism in mainstream movies with blockbusters like James Cameron's "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland" as well as low-budget horror movies like the recent "Piranha 3D" and the upcoming "Saw 3D". Since 2003 the 3D craze has been steadily increasing and shows no signs of wearing off as more and more films are being released in 3D. To me it seems like a fad; like the 3D movies in the past with its golden age in the 1950's and it re-emergence in the 1980's. Although some films benefit from the 3D process as those who were actually shot in 3D (like "Avatar") but most it feels overblown. The 3D experience may excite some viewers, to me it feels artificial and uncomfortable. I feel it doesn't add anything rewarding to film-going experience.
    With every new sequel to this series we get more and more lost in the heavy continuity and convoluted plotline that by the fifth movie the story will be so confused and tired that they should call the next one "Resident Evil: Exhaustion"! By this time they should let the series die and who knows maybe they will make a prequel? By that time the world will have ended thankfully; or they could even bring in Leon S. Kennedy into the movies (maybe)? If you can look past its many flaws, stereotypical and flat characters, massive plot-holes and altogether confusion "Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D" is an exciting (and overwhelming) experience but don't try too hard to wrap your brain around the plot, you'll just give yourself a headache (or is that just from the 3D glasses?)!

Official Movie Website:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Anime Fest in Dallas!

   I always look forward to Labor Day Weekend, it's like the last breath of summer before the fall starts along with school. Among the many comic/anime conventions around the Dallas area, one event has always been one of my favorites and that is Anime Fest Dallas! Held annually at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion Tower, Anime Fest is a non-profit organization for fans of Japanese Animation where many come from miles around to view new anime, buy & trade merchandise, "and just reveling in all that is anime." I've been a devoted fan and patron of Anime Fest since 1996 where it was held at a small Dallas Holiday Inn with only a small vendor room and one viewing room where we watched bootleg and fan(poorly)-dubbed anime on VHS! Since then it has grown into a huge annual event. Although it may not be as large as Dallas' A-Kon in June, it certainly brings a large number of fans with a huge vendor room, games, viewing, art show and costumes. (Oh, so many Cosplayers!)
Anime Fest is always a satisfying convention and usually not as overcrowded as A-Kon, however with every year it seems to grow and grow, which is fine except it will eventually grow out of the venue and move to a less convenient location. Those of us who live within the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex know we don't have the biggest public transportation system in-between the cities and smaller suburbs but thankfully the TRE (Trinity Railway Express) is reliable and affordable enough and with the Anime Fest being located at Reunion Tower, the trains last stop comes to Union Station which drops you off right at the downstairs entrance to the hotel. This years Anime Fest, like always was a great hit and with special guests like director Kazuyoshi Katayama (Appleseed, Big O) and musical act Nirgilis, a Japanese Techno band, was definitely a success!
I must admit that in recent years I have not been able to endure all 4 days of the convention to the fullest and usually the best days to come is Saturday or Sunday. Unfortunately, I find myself getting older lately and having been an Anime Fest patron for the last 14 years I find that the majority of patrons usually range from within the 15 to 24 year old crowd and feel I have grown out of a lot of the more popular recent anime titles. As I am mostly an old-school type of anime (Gundam, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion) fan I can still find enough merchandise and I always enjoy the various panels and vendors Anime Fest has to offer and I still love seeing all the costumes and cosplayers. Over the years I have observed the changing trends of anime fans and cosplayers with many popular titles whereas a few years ago it was a very heavy Inu Yasha crowd, whereas in recent years fans of other more recent titles such as Full Metal Alchemist, Bleach and Deathnote (or whatever Cartoon Network is showing currently!) gain more popularity. Many of the vendors mostly specialize in toys and other anime knick-knacks along with cosplay (costuming) vendors along with the various sub-cultures for punk, goth and steam-punk varieties. One bizarre fad this year seemed to be the popularity of these curious Japanese pajama-like hoodies called kigurumi, everybody was wearing them!
The best experience I had at this years Anime Fest was that I got to meet director Kazuyoshi Katayama and got his autograph and then later was able to view a very special screening of his new anime film King of Thorn, which was a real treat and many of he fans also seemed to like it. Well, I'm looking forward to next years Anime Fest and hope any fellow anime fans out there in the area will join me!
 Official Site: