One thing “Resident Evil” honcho Paul W.S. Anderson has figured out about his franchise: Once the train leaves the station, it’s best not to make any stops. His new installment (fourth as writer-producer, second as director), “Resident Evil: Afterlife” is an express to Monstertown on tracks greased with zombie entrails.
For those not steeped in the gory legend risen from the popular video games, Milla Jovovich plays Alice, former operative and now arch-nemesis of the Umbrella Corporation. As the name implies, the company covers it all in the field of malevolence — even after it accidentally launches a plague that essentially wipes out humanity, it keeps plotting new wickedness that often involves experimenting on uninfected humans.
This fourth chapter of Alice in Zombieland, in 3-D, opens with our heroine, somehow granted super powers by the virus, and her army of great-looking clones taking down a company installation. After that delightful salutatory carnage, Alice searches for her friends from the previous movie, eventually holing up with survivors in a maximum-security prison in the middle of Los Angeles. You know the one.
If that plot summary seems quick and dirty, so is the film — but really, how much detail do you need? If you’re interested in this movie, it’s because you love either seeing zombies explode (check), the video games (major character included, check) or Jovovich kicking undead butt in every conceivable way (check and mate). The insane plot holes don’t really matter, nor do the laughable divisions of good and bad — the villain ( Shawn Roberts) clearly went to the Agent Smith School of Diction, in one of many “Matrix” echoes.
Anderson has said that the 3-D technology slowed down his edits, giving the eye more time to catch up to the images. As a result, the action is easier to read than in most films of the genre, and therefore more enjoyable. Anderson makes particular use of sets and locations to wring out more bang for the stereoscopic buck. No, it doesn’t have the immersive quality of “Avatar,” but the film does represent a step toward making 3-D par for the course.