- Look at all those evil residents.
Resident Evil: Afterlife: I have an unaccountable soft spot for the Resident Evil series, maybe because unlike the perils of making sequels and threequels and prequels and 3-Dquels to really good movies, there is very little legacy risk for the movies about Milla Jovovich shooting … zombies? (They’re zombies, right?) In fact, I’d say these movies have only gotten better as they go along: the first one is acceptable trash; the second is a little sillier but more fun without the Ten Little Indians pick-offs; and the third one goes dustier and more post-apocalyptic. I say all of this with little memory of what actually happens in these movies, except that in the first one Jovovich kicks a zombie dog and in the third one, Ashanti dies (prompting cheers from my 19th St. opening-night audience three years ago). In short, this is the perfect franchise for a cheesy 3-D continuation. Hey, depending on how you count things, this could be the best Part Four ever!
The Virginity Hit: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produced this first-person faux-documentary comedy, and while it has some amusing digressions that wouldn’t be out of place in a McKay or Apatow joint, it’s mostly akin to crossing American Pie with mumblecore. It’s neat that the Ferrell/McKay team wants to support a comic style less obviously compatible with their own (a previous pickup from their company, the would-be cult comedy The Foot Fist Way starring the admittedly hilarious Danny McBride, felt more like Ferrell Extreme! than an original comic voice), but while The Virginity Hit is many things—likable, often believable, and observant about the way some teenagers are now willing and able to broadcast their adolescent victories and embarrassments to the world—it’s never really all that funny. Amusing, yes, but almost too real to work as a comedy; it feels like real kids hanging out and screwing around, a nice vibe with a realistically low percentage of actual good jokes. Although: it should be said that these low-budget upstarts have produced a far better guys-just-screwing-around comedy than the similarly unpolished Grown Ups.
The Romantics: Galt Niederhoffer’s adaptation of her own novel has a decent cast—Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Josh Duhamel, Elijah Wood, and, in a surprise career-best turn, former Silk Spectre Malin Akerman playing drunk and brazen—but they get blurred not just by the digital video photography (this looks like a book trailer, you guys!) but a focus on a romantic rivalry between Holmes and Paquin; neither (unlike Akerman!) do their best work here. At first, the movie feels like the smart kind of novel adaptation, taken from a limited timeframe and point of view. But then characters start having long conversations about their feelings and suddenly it’s the regular kind of novel adaptation: unwieldy and overemphatic.