Five Favorite Films with Paul W.S. Anderson

The Resident Evil: Afterlife director also talks about working in 3D... and epicness.

by |


After a long hiatus from the Resident Evil director's chair, Paul W.S. Anderson returns with Afterlife, fourth in the series, which sees survivors Alice (Milla Jovovich) and Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) mowing down zombies and monsters and entering their most horrific location yet: Los Angeles. Between the original Resident Evil and Afterlife, Anderson directed AVP: Alien vs. Predator and Death Race, all part of a long body of fanboy work that includes early efforts like Mortal Kombat and Event Horizon. With Afterlife hitting theaters this Friday, Rotten Tomatoes sat down with Anderson to talk about what compelled him to return to direct this installment and what it was like working with James Cameron's 3D technology.

Paul W.S. Anderson's Five Favorite Films, listed in no particular order:

Rotten Tomatoes: What brought you back to the director's chair for this one?

Paul W.S. Anderson: A couple of things. One is, basically, I really miss the fun of directing Resident Evil. I loved making the first movie as a director, and... I mean, I'd written and produced the other movies, but I kind of missed the fun of directing them. I wanted that fun again, and I wanted the experience of making a movie with Milla [Jovovich] again. So I very much wanted to come back. And also, added to that, it was like, "Why another Resident Evil movie? Why are we going to get people to come back and see it one more time?" And I felt, if we were going to make another Resident Evil movie, the only thing to do was to make the biggest and the best Resident Evil yet, and to really kind of elevate the franchise. Just raise the bar. You know, I was very influenced by what [James] Cameron had done with the Terminator franchise, where you saw the difference between Terminator and T2, where it's the same franchise with the same characters and it's the same story, but the movie's on a much more epic scale. And I thought that's what we should do with our movie and with our franchise, and I felt I was the right filmmaker with the right skill set to do that.

How do you get more epic than the third part, which was reasonably epic...

"Reasonably epic." We?re going for "epically epic." Well, I think there's a couple of ways. I think the 3D was one aspect of it. I thought, "We'll make it 3D." That will open up the movie, because it will make it a more immersive movie, and a more immersive experience, which, I think for action and for horror, the more immersive you can be, the better it is. You know, 3D is obviously not as suited to drama and romantic comedies. But for what I do, I felt that 3D was a very, very appropriate technology.

And the other is, just to kind of, to make the movie more of a globetrotting movie with more epic imagery in it. So, to that end, we shot in Tokyo, we shot on these fantastic glaciers in Alaska, we shot in Hollywood, we shot in Long Beach, we shot in Canada. I mean, it really became a movie with a much broader, more epic scope.

Having not seen the movie, I assume Alice is now battling zombies across the globe, then?

Yes. The first act all takes place in Tokyo. I mean, all of them have had one environment, really. The first one was very much kind of a chamber piece horror that took place in the hive, in a very contained time period. The second one kind of broadened out a little bit, but it was all in one city in one night.

So this is more like a James Bond zombie movie, with locations across the world?

It's more globetrotting. It's a more epic film. Yeah, it's definitely... It's an epic of the undead genre, that's for sure.

Was it harder to work with the 3D cameras? This is quite new technology, having just been used by James Cameron. What were the challenges?

Well, Cameron screened a chunk of Avatar for us over a year ago, and I loved the quality of the 3D imagery that he was getting with this camera system. That's what persuaded me to use the Cameron/Pace camera system and to really go 3D with the movie. Because I'd seen a lot of 3D movies before, and to be honest, I always felt that it was an idea that was waiting for the technology to catch up with it. Great idea, but no one had really executed it correctly. When I saw the imagery they were getting with the Cameron/Pace rigs, I was like, "Now they've cracked it, finally. This is what 3D should look like."

And I think people are still confused about what 3D should look like. As good as Avatar looked, you know, really the next real, live-action 3D movie to come out would be Resident Evil, because everything else that's been released this year has been a dimensionalization. It's become a post-production process, which, to me, I always refer to them as "2-and-a-half-D." You know, it's not 2D, but it's not really, true 3D either. True 3D is, you have to kind of originate the images in three dimensions. I know from the footage we've shown to people... We did a big press junket in Cancun a few weeks ago, and the press were like, "Wow, I finally see what 3D is supposed to look like." It's supposed to look like what it looked like in Avatar, where there's incredible depth, and it's really crisp, and it looked really slick.

Do you think once audiences get used to that, they won't accept any more conversions?

I think so. I really believe that, as filmmakers, we have a duty, which is, if we're asking people to pay a premium price for a 3D ticket, we have a duty to deliver a premium product. And I feel that the premium product is delivered by really shooting a proper 3D movie. And it's expensive, there's no doubt about it; it's cheaper and it's easier to shoot a 2D movie and dimensionalize it. But you have to shoot in real 3D to get the real 3D quality, I think.

Resident Evil: Afterlife, starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, and Wentworth Miller, opens this weekend in the US. For more reviews and information on the film, check back on the Resident Evil: Afterlife page!