Milla Jovovich is back in zombie ass-kicking mode as Alice, with her hubby Paul W.S. Anderson at the helm again for Resident Evil: Afterlife, and the most amazing thing, besides the 3D visuals, is the fact that this franchise has made it to movie #4 without collapsing under the feebleness of its character development and general lack of integrity.
While Resident Evil, the video game, started life as an intense first-person shooter that had the tone and scope of something more akin to George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Paul W.S. Anderson gave it the Hollywood treatment in the most extreme and shameless sense, amping up the technological and action aspects of the franchise while minimizing the suspenseful horror elements. Essentially changing a horror game into a sci-fi action movie, Anderson created the central character Alice, and in subsequent sequels, gave her super-human powers, and then cloned her again and again.The fourth installment certainly follows the line of logic its three predecessors drew, the plot essentially existing as a backbone for several large-scale action set pieces that seem to grow in incredulity every time. It's exactly what you'd expect from a video game adaptation, as if one-upmanship is a requirement in translating these properties to the big screen.
The plot begins with a no-holds-barred video game-esque sequence in Tokyo as Alice runs a siege on the ever-nefarious Umbrella Corporation, then chills out for a while in Alaska. There she meets up with Ali Larter, who suffers from amnesia (which seems to be a constant in the RE franchise) and together they head to Los Angeles to home in on a rescue beacon. There, they land on the roof of a giant skyscraper prison, surrounded by hordes of flesh-hungry undead. Sounds like a typical visit to L.A.
At the prison, they run into, of all people, Prison Break's Wentworth Miller, who plays Larter's brother. A lot of boring talk ensues, Milla almost strips down to take a shower, but gets interrupted by a zombie intrusion way too soon, much to the ire of the mostly male teen-aged audience, and the new team goes on the run from the undead in order to find the source of the rescue transmission.
Once the film picks up the pace, Anderson goes into full-on Matrix mode to ensure that we the audience are as blown away by his mastery of 3D as possible.... except it all feels so incredibly dated. From the super-slow motion gun shooting and glass shattering, to the sunglasses-clad villain, to the techno score, Resident Evil: Afterlife is a little out of style these days, unless you're into that kind of thing.
All in all, if you're a fan of the series, you'll probably get a kick out of it, but if you're looking for more human substance and true horror from your zombie movies, you'll probably want to skip this one.