Resident Evil: Afterlife appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though much of the movie looked great, a few minor faults kept it from “A”-level.
Actually, some mild, occasional softness was the only issue I found. While most of the flick offered excellent definition, a few shots could be a bit soft and tentative. I’d guess that some of this stemmed from the use of 3D cameras and iffy computer effects, but whatever the case, I thought the sporadic softness cropped up. I still felt quite happy with the delineation seen most of the time, as lots of the flick displayed terrific clarity.
At no point did I witness any jagged edges or shimmering. Edge enhancement appeared absent, and no artifacts or DNR showed up along the way. Of course, source flaws weren’t a factor; the movie was clean and fresh.
Colors worked fine. After a peppy start, the palette became more subdued; the Umbrella Corporation reds offered the most obvious tones. I felt the hues were consistently solid. Blacks seemed dark and tight, and I thought shadows displayed nice clarity. At times, this was a strong “A” transfer, but the occasional softness knocked it down to a “B+”.
No similar complaints attached themselves to the consistently excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Afterlife. One of the most aggressive mixes I’ve heard in a while, the audio offered nearly constant material from all around the spectrum. Action sequences dominated and created an active, involving space with plenty of punch to be found everywhere. Bullets zinged, punches crunched, and explosions blew apart the room. This was a vivid, engulfing mix that used the whole room to great advantage.
Audio quality lived up to the soundscape. Effects were the most important factor, and they came through well. The various elements lacked distortion, and they cranked out some solid material; they were always vivid and concise. Music seemed bold and bright as well, and speech was natural and distinctive. If I wanted to find something about which to complain, I couldn’t; this was a very strong mix.
The Blu-ray comes with a nice complement of extras. These launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Paul WS Anderson and producers Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of sets and locations, shooting in 3D, cast and performances, stunts and action, various effects, costumes, some story/character issues and a few other areas.
All three men have recorded commentaries in the past, and Anderson has done quite a few of them. This means that they seem comfortable with the format but a little bored to be there. Maybe “bored” isn’t fair, but I don’t sense a whole lot of enthusiasm for the process. The three guys deliver a “meat and potatoes” discussion: it goes over the appropriate areas in a reasonably informative manner but it doesn’t become anything particularly engaging.
Another feature accompanies the film: the ”Undead Vision” Picture-in-Picture piece. Along the way, we see storyboards and previz, concept art, behind the scenes footage and interviews. It presents notes from Anderson, Bolt, Anderson’s assistant Sarah Crompton, director of photography Glen MacPherson, production designer Arv Grewal, producer Don Carmody, special makeup and creature effects Paul Jones, visual effects supervisor Dennis Berardi, prosthetic effects artist Kyle Glencross, and actors Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Boris Kodjoe, Wentworth Miller, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Sienna Guillory and Kacey Barnfield. The comments cover script and planning, story and characters, stunts and action, effects, sets and locations, cinematography and some other topics.
Picture-in-picture features tend to be hit or miss, and this one follows that pattern. While it offers some decent info and materials, I don’t find a whole lot to really pique my interest. It’s probably most useful if you like storyboards and that sort of stuff, as those images dominate; interview snippets aren’t terribly frequent. This is a decent extra but it can be slow-going.
Eight Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of six minutes, 48 seconds. These include “Intruders – Extended” (0:31), “Alice and Claire in the Plane” (0:35), “Alice Rolls Quarters – Extended” (1:05), “Getting Dirty” (0:22), “Crystal Volunteers” (1:08), “Claire and Luther at the Prison Gate” (0:27), “On the LA River” (1:02), and “To Arcadia – Extended” (1:38). The most useful character notes help expand Claire’s amnesia. Otherwise, the scenes tend to be pretty minor additions. None of them contribute much to the film.
Next we find four minutes, 30 seconds of Outtakes. These tend to be of the silly, goof-ridden variety. I guess people enjoy these, but I rarely get much from them, and this reel doesn’t do anything for me.
A collection of seven featurettes fill a total of 47 minutes, 33 seconds. In this realm, we find "Back Under the Umbrella: Directing Afterlife" (6:43), “Band of Survivors: Casting Afterlife” (6:39), “Undead Dimension: Resident Evil in 3D” (7:28), “Fighting Back: The Action of Afterlife” (5:31), “Vision of the Apocalypse: The Design of Afterlife” (7:29), “New Blood: The Undead of Afterlife” (7:32), and “Pwning the Undead: Gamers of the Afterlife” (6:11). Across these, we hear from Anderson, Jovovich, Larter, Bolt, Kulzer, Crompton, Carmody, Coates, Roberts, Kodjoe, Miller, MacPherson, Barnfield, Grewal, Berardi, Jones, film editor Niven Howie, and actor Sergio Peris-Mencheta. The shows examine Anderson’s attachment to the Evil series and his return to the director’s chair for Afterlife, the growth he attempted for this one, cast, characters and performances, stunts and action, shooting 3D, sets, locations and visual design, various effects and the creation of the undead, and echoes of the videogames.
While we do learn some decent info across these featurettes, they tend to be rather superficial. We hear a lot about how great various movie elements/participants are, but hard data doesn’t often come to the fore. Yeah, we learn an acceptable amount about the production, but all the happy talk makes the featurettes something of a chore to watch.
A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Takers, Piranha 3D, Sniper: Reloaded and Salt. Under Previews, we also locate promos for The Social Network, The Virginity Hit, Faster, Animal Kingdom, Justified, Ticking Clock, and Game of Death. Though the disc throws in an ad for the upcoming Resident Evil: Damnation CG-animated film, it lacks the trailer for Afterlife.
Four films down the road and the Resident Evil franchise takes a notable dip with Afterlife. The movie tries to deliver the usual thrills and fails, as it lacks the expected sizzle and excitement. The Blu-ray provides usually strong visuals, awesome audio, and an erratic but generally informative set of supplements. Maybe Resident Evil aficionados will get a thrill from Afterlife, but I can’t find much in it to like.