Fourth installment of “Resident Evil” series is a no-brainer

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A plane flies over the isolated shores of Alaska, searching.

The plane lands in a field littered with hundreds of similar vehicles, all of them empty. Could this really be the mythical Arcadia, the last infection-free land on Earth?

This is the start of “Resident Evil Afterlife,” the first in the video game-based franchise to be filmed in 3-D.

The movie picks up right where the last one (“Extinction”) left off. Alice (Milla Jovovich, “The Fourth Kind”) is on the hunt to take down the evil Umbrella Corporation in Japan, the scum that created the virus behind the zombie infection that plagues Earth.

Featuring multiple Alice clones that were created in the previous “Evil,” the film looks fantastic in 3-D. Each scene is cleverly shot to show foreground and background to really enhance the on-screen visuals. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (“Death Race”) blends martial arts, shootouts and liberal use of slow motion. The combined effect makes for exciting action sequences all the way to the end credits.

Fans of the Resident Evil video games will find a lot to like here as Anderson (who also directed the original “Resident Evil” movie) pulls creatures, characters and boss battles from the series’ history, particularly the newest one, “Resident Evil 5.”

One particular “boss battle” has Alice and her fellow ass-kicking friend Claire Redfield facing off against a horrific giant zombie that’s lovingly referred to as “the executioner.”

The fight, which coincidentally takes place in a prison shower room, takes advantage of the 3-D imagery, bringing an otherwise decent action scene to life. Water, bullets and blood all fly off the screen, taking
the chaos to a whole new level.

It’s a good thing that the action is so engaging, because the story is the film’s weakest point.
The solemn tale of surviving in the world post-zombie-apocalypse is cheapened by the over-the-top fight scenes, and the action suffers by having to constantly slow down to the tone of desolate survival.

It just isn’t a good mix.

Continuity is also a problem. The film drastically changes the look of the third film, ditching the Mad-Maxian deserts of the third installment without explanation.

Then there is Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). As the leader of the Umbrella Corporation, Wesker is the trench-coated villain who will stop at nothing until Alice is killed.

Perfectly recreated from his role in the game series, Wesker is stiff, snooty and genetically enhanced.

Viewers who are unfamiliar with the games might find his evilness too cardboard, but that is intentional.

The same can be said about the rest of the movie. Like the games, the story is riddled with as many holes as a zombie’s corpse, but it provides the setup for interesting things to happen.

The movie isn’t scary, but the shift in focus allows for a more action-packed pace. Fans of action movies, video games or just bad-ass, hot women will find something to enjoy here, so long as they leave their brains at home.

Grade: C+