Movie Review - Resident Evil: Afterlife (**1/2)

Resident Evil: Afterlife.  100 mins.  R.  Written and Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.  Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Boris Kodjoe, and Wentworth Miller.

The Resident Evil franchise isn't going to gain any new fans with this latest, its fourth, installment.  Though it has the 3D hook, and some pretty nifty 3D effects, this is strictly for the stalwart fans.  If you've made it this far, through the atrocious second and third films in the series, then you probably deserve a medal.  Certainly more than Afterlife has to offer, which is to say, near-constant slo-mo run-and-gun zombie killing.  

Writer-director Paul W.S.Anderson (Death Race, Event Horizon, the first Resident Evil) returns to the director's chair, and while he still fails to grasp any real sense of character, emotion, or coherent story, he knows how to create the occasional cool shot amid all the other crap on screen.  He's like a poor man's Michael Bay.  The cast is actually decent for this kind of schlock - Milla Jovovich, Boris Kodjoe, Ali Larter, Wenwrorth Miller - but they don't really have much to do acting-wise, apart from running, swimming, and shooting.  And probably half of that is done by their stunt double.
After a frantic first half-hour, where Jovoich's Alice infiltrates the evil Umbrella Corporation and kills about a million people, Afterlife settles down a bit as Alice looks for other survivors, but it ultimately only builds to one Dawn of the Dead knock-off scene after another.  Zombies are everywhere (sorry, virus-infected people who don't die) - but what's the deal with the big guy with a burlap sack on his head, a giant nail on his back, and a pick axe the size of a Buick?  Is he a zombie?  Beats me - I don't even think the filmmakers know.  The ending hints at more Resident Evil installments to come.  I'm not sure if that's a promise....or a threat.

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