For those who came in late, the Resident Evil franchise is based on a hugely popular Japanese survival horror video game. The films are set in a ravaged, post-apocalyptic world in which a deadly virus has turned most of the human population into murderous zombies. A handful of survivors, lead by the stunning and lethal Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, roam the earth. They are pursued by the hungry undead and arch-villain Albert Wesker, chairman of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation, which designed the virus. Resident Evil: Afterlife is the fourth film in the series. The first three were slammed by critics but lapped up by fans. The fourth is likely to continue that tradition.
Afterlife begins four years after the initial outbreak. After a deadly battle with Wesker, Alice flies to Alaska in search of Arcadia, which is supposedly the only place on earth not affected by the virus. All she finds there is her old friend Claire, played by Ali Larter, who is now suffering from amnesia. They both head out to Los Angeles, where a few more humans have somehow managed to survive amidst the ruins. They find Arcadia but Wesker, who is now endowed with superhuman strength, isn’t far behind.
This summary of the plot is far more coherent than the actual film, which lurches from scene to scene without any pretense at logic. Each time the energy sags, writer-director Paul W. S. Anderson resorts to appropriately gory action. So quite randomly, the Executioner, a giant with an axe-hammer weapon shows up and proceeds to split open one of the survivors or zombies pop out of the scenery and start chewing hungrily. The high point is Wesker, played by Shawn Roberts, who is a laughably bad cartoon villain. The actors try and infuse some urgency into the silliness but it is an uphill climb. This is pure, unintentional comedy.
Afterlife is the first 3D film in the series. Unlike many recent movies, Afterlife was actually shot in 3D using the same camera technology as Avatar. So water drops leap off the screen and zombie brains and axes come flying in your direction quite effectively. Is that good enough reason to venture in? I don’t think so. But if your idea of fun is the super-sexy Milla out-running zombies by hurtling across buildings and dogs with heads that split into two, check it out.