Moving from Japan to Alaska to Los Angeles, this fourth installment of a very success Capcom video game series won't die easily especially with vivid 3D now at its disposal.
Resident Evil: Afterlife seems to be inspired by The Matrix and a little of the Dawn of the Dead (the remake) with its visuals and the format making it barely tolerable as Milla Jovovich's zombie-killer of a character in Alice provides the pertinent voiceover that eases one into what passes as mindless entertainment.
England's Paul W.S. Anderson (Death Race) resumes directorial chores after Apocalypse and Extinction to provide enough profitable bloody mayhem for those who find his "adaptation" a blast. To be fair to the gamer set, the best interludes are after the opening credits where the effect is used in having water splash off of the performers names and before another cliffhanger is set up.
For the uninitiated or those who may not give a hoot, the nefarious Umbrella Corporation's T-Virus was used to fight nerve-related diseases and aging, but a side effect triggered dead cells in its hosts to transform them into ravenous zombies.
So, more or less after Extinction (four years after the initial outbreak), the virus has spread worldwide leaving it a nightmare of sorts as rapidly evolving undead prey on the humans who remain. Early on, Alice has to face off against Umbrella and its wicked dark sunglassed chairman Wesker (Shawn Roberts). She gets to feel like what it is to be "human" again after her clones are downed and relieved of her superpowers.
It's off to Arcadia, presumed to be a frozen climate where the virus may not be, as well as survivors like Claire Redfield (Ali Larter, reprising her role). The scribe in Anderson has to etch out a scenario for more zombie-bashing with some bleached-out flashbacking to a helicopter and Claire who has lost her memory. In its slovenly, inexplicable way, the story tries to make sense as Alice meets up with Claire as well as a rag-tag group which includes Kim Coates' Bennett, Boris Kodjoe's Luther and prisoner Chris (Wentworth Miller from TV's former show "Prison Break"). The film settles into its main setting in the City of Angels - a barracaded prison with Alice and her cohorts looking for an underground escape.
As it has fun with some bullet-time photography, as well as scenes with shattered glass, water, and experimentation later on, nothing is very creative or refreshingly amusing. Action fans will like a sequence with a bursting pipes as Alice and Claire have their hands full with what looks to be the most humungous of the slobbering mutants. The 3D processing actually comes off fairly decent here, but Afterlife struggles to drag out of its uninspired quagmire even with its familial, locational turnabouts.
Jovovich methodically keeps Alice aggressive enough, but there's really nothing for her to grab onto, besides all of the high-tech weaponry at her disposal. Roberts is more of a bland replica of Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith and Larter can't make Claire more distinguishable as a troubled comrade-in-arms. Maybe Kodjoe and especially Coates of the tough biker TV series "Sons of Anarchy" have a little more personality from their characters' image and sense of desperation ("I'm a producer!").
For those who've viewed these movies it's all disappointingly familiar in service of a crowd fueled by interactive prowess overrun by dreadful dialogue and some eviscerating displays. One hopes that stepping into an Umbrella trap with legions of Undead awaiting might be purged sooner rather than later.