Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p 2D and 3D transfer. Being shot with the same cameras that Cameron developed for Avatar, you kind of expect that this 3D image is going to be pretty good, and it certainly does not disappoint. Right from the off you know you are in for a treat with exceptional and perceivable distance between layers; but more than that, there is tangible solidity to everything within those layers, this image is effortlessly 3D. Anderson doesn’t concentrate on the in your face ‘point at the screen’ moments, though these are most definitely there, the throwing stars and sun glasses being thrown at the screen are the most famous (and obvious) examples, but wisely takes greater time to explore the frame depth, which, as I’ve said many time before, is where the real joy in 3D is held. Look at a pretty simple scene, Alice sitting on a log looking out to sea, one of these frames is shot from the rear and low down so you have the foreground trees, the rolling sand, middle distance trees, more sand, Alice, the sea and then the distant background; there is a real sense of distance between the layers, the frame extends deep into the screen, but what really sets it apart is the solidity to the layers, each tree is ‘round’ and has depth to its bark, the sand ‘flows’ into the distance, the waves roll into the beach etc. In fact, where the 3D really excels is in these simple set ups – take the plane flying over the landscape, there is nothing flashy going on, but the effect is mesmerising, a solid object flying in a solid world, or Alice pointing her weapons (not those, her pistols, no, her revolvers, oh you know what I mean!) at the screen, there is a sense of distance between the barrel, the bullet chamber, her hands, her arms, the furry collar, her face, her hair, before you get to the distance! Perhaps, best of all, was the underwater swim, which has such a sense of being underwater that I was sure the TV leaked, and is everything that Piranha 3D should have been. That is not to take away from the more flashy moments, Alice leaping out of the way of an explosion and the debris flying towards and all around the screen, or ‘bullet time’ bullets flying at you, or that giant hammer/axe thing swinging so close to your eyes you think it is actually going to lop off your head! Scenes shot in the rain, be it natural or in the shower scenes, look incredible and were purposely written to show off the real 3D. Put simply this is a stunning example of the latest technology. So how does the rest of the picture stand up?
Detail is generally very good, skin pores and watery eyes are keenly observed in most places, clothing weaves have a definite presence, the metallic sheen of the many weapons on show, is clean and definite. Though there were definitely times of some softening going on, nothing too dramatic, but certainly everything doesn’t remain quite so pin sharp as one has come to expect, I suspect this is a result of the digital tomfoolery applied to the print, more on which later, so is not a defect, as such, but I mention it nonetheless.
Brightness is set to give some decent blacks (given the caveat of 3D technology) and there is some nice shadow detail on show, see the underground tunnel or the sewers for some nice examples. Contrast, however, was set a little hot, meaning that some of the areas of white did bloom a tad, the mountains at the beginning, some of the sweat on our characters, and the white uniforms of the unfortunates in the pods at the end did suffer a little detail loss.
Digitally the image has been treated in post production to add grain, and change the colour timing and grades, meaning that colours are all rather drab and flat, particularly in the middle section where browns predominate, giving the pallet a rather earthy hue that fails to ignite the spectrum – purely intentional of course. This digital processing, I am sure, has contributed to the problems associated with the 2D image picked up in Cas’ review, here in the 3D variant such elements are lost within the 3D image where the green screen edges and colour grading simply add to the image layering – so it is a positive boon to, since this is how it is meant to be seen. There were no compression problems noted, and colour didn’t wash or bleed, but there were a couple of instances of banding noticed in the underwater sequence, but very minor. I spotted no edge enhancement either. Best of all, practically no cross talk either, maybe one or two seconds worth in the entire run time, top stuff!
In all this 3D image is the way to see this film, it is a magnificent example of the format.
To accompany the stunning visuals there is an equally stunning English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that almost brings the house down. In a word – bass. That’s how to describe this track, with bass so heavy that it actually vibrated my seat in places! Dynamically it is set wide, wide across the front, wide across the back and wide between the two. It always takes the time to throw as much bombast a into the soundscape as possible - discreet is supposed to be the term used for surround effects, but not so here; load and brash is a better term. There is hardly a moment when the surrounds are not in use, whether they are bombarding you with bullet shots/ricochets, or explosions, or undead groaning or just filling out the score, you really are in the centre of the action. Thankfully dialogue is always clear and precise, there is some directionality and it’s never drowned out by the mayhem on screen. The score itself comes through with heart pounding ferocity and was largely responsible for the vibrating chair. Gun shots and explosions were given almighty kicks from the subwoofer which hasn’t had such fun since the Expendibles, although it doesn’t quite go as low as that. High end isn’t forgotten either, with the tinkle of expelled shells hitting the floor clearly audible. There is little finesse to the track, but it does what it sets out to do, be loud and engaging and matching the excesses of the on screen action, which it does with aplomb.
- Undead Vision
This is a Picture in Picture track that plays in the bottom right of the frame and shows plenty of information from interviews snippets, to behind the scenes footage, to design sketches and animatics – not quite an information overload but very informative and plays throughout the feature runtime.
- Audio Commentary
With director Paul W.S. Anderson and producers Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer is a somewhat patchy and technical entry, that at times can be a chore to get through as the delivery is sporadic and very dry. Discussions on all things technical, such as locations, sets, design, camera angles and 3D make up the majority of the talk with Anderson taking the lead for most of the talk, some interesting facts are gleamed though, such as digital skies added to make them more dramatic.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes – HD, 06.48
A series of eight scenes playable individually or with the play all function. There is nothing much here, certainly nothing to add to the film, and no reason given for the excise, but when watched, pacing seems to be the choice.
- Outtakes – HD, 04.30
Fluffed lines, falling over, laughing, Milla pretending to stub out cigarettes and an over-riding sense of fun can be seen here.
- Featurettes – HD, 0.47.33
A total of seven featurettes that can be watched individually or all together with a play all function. Back under the Umbrella: Directing Afterlife is a brief introduction to the film and Anderson’s re-helming the franchise contains interviews with the man himself as well as other cast and crew. Band of Survivors: Casting Afterlife centres on the new cast members, how they approached their roles as well as the established characters of Alice and Claire. Undead Dimension: Resident Evil in 3D discusses how the film was conceived as a 3D project, the camera system used and who each shot was devised to best show off the format. Fighting Back: The Action of Afterlife looks at the training and stunt work that the cast went through to achieve the action in the film. Vision of the Apocalypse: Designing Afterlife looks at the style of the film with regard to its look, be that sets, landscapes, costumes or colour schemes. New Blood: The Undead of Afterlife looks at the make-up and design of the new monsters of the film and how they were achieved, be it prosthetics or CG. Pwning the Undead: Gamers of the Afterlife looks at the influence the game has had on the franchise specifically this film and the many nods and homage’s taken to involve gamers.
Taken as a whole there is plenty of background information, each interviewee talks with enthusiasm about the film and their part in it, but it was way to self congratulatory for my taste with far too much film footage to pad out the run time.
- Sneak Peak – SD, 1.10
A quick look at Resident Evil: Damnation a follow up CG film to Degeneration
For Takers, Salt, The Virginity Hit, Faster and Ticking Clock
- Movie IQ and BDLive
Nothing of interest at all in the BDLive
- 2D Version
The film but in 2D
So plenty of extra material to keep you occupied if you so desire to find out more about the making of the film, even if some of it is very sappy indeed. When booted up in a 3D player the menu is 3D, in a standard player 2D, all the extra material is 2D.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is the latest of the ever burgeoning series; it seems that just like the undead, this franchise refuses to die. While the events of this entry do follow directly on from those in the last film, Extinction, it quickly makes its own path and furthers the adventures of a small band of survivors battling a world inhabited by not only hordes of undead monsters hell bend on eating them, but the evil Umbrella corporation that seem hell bent on experimenting on any survivors left. The story, however, does not matter as this entry is all about the style and in particular the 3D, in which it excels. So, if you can, ignore the idiocy of it all and just revel in the marvellous spectacle of it all.
As a 3D Blu-ray package Sony has provided everything you need in one neat, future proof bundle, all the extra features and the 2D variant of the film, with the 3D version being one of the best examples that the format has yet to offer, that is equally matched with a dynamic and bombastic sound track. Even if you dislike the film, this disc is a winner.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.99
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