My short synopsis: The world is a smoldering pit, zombies roam everywhere, and Alice obliterates everything … in 3-D.
And while I could very easily leave well enough alone after writing that, I'll provide a longer look, too: It all began when the evil Umbrella Corporation—doing what heartless corporations often do—let a nasty virus leak out into the populace. Pretty soon, everybody started turning into flesh-eating zombies.
Now, that'll take a bite out of the profit margin.
There was one good thing that came from the whole T-virus debacle, however: Alice. As the only real survivor to direct exposure, this pretty zombie-stomper next door has a genetic makeup that allows her to actually develop super-speed, unnatural strength and other enhancements from the otherwise deadly bug.
If Umbrella could somehow harness Alice's DNA anomaly, well, then a joyful "broo-ha-ha" could once again ring out through the hall of its wicked, underground headquarters. But Alice isn't cooperating. She's more interested in saving the remnants of humankind and, uh, finding a way to fold up Umbrella permanently.
That pretty much covers the first three movies (Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction). And this, the fourth chapter, finds Alice once more unleashing all her back-flipping, gun-blazing, sword-slashing rage at the heart of the Umbrella Empire.
This time she loses her super powers. (Gasp!) She joins up with a gaggle of survivors in L.A. (Wow!) And she faces off with thousands of gore-drooling undead. (In 3-D!!)
Alice is driven by an unwavering desire to find a safe refuge for as many human survivors as possible. She repeatedly puts her life on the line to save others. She could easily go her own way and be safe, but she never even considers that choice.
Even when she loses her T-virus enhanced abilities, she stands solo against scores of zombies after guiding her friends to safety. And when injected with the T-virus antiserum, Alice gratefully thanks her assailant for making her human once more—even though he meant to weaken her with it.
Claire Redfield and her brother Chris also make heroic choices when faced with the zombie hordes.
Alice, her friend Claire and another woman all wear formfitting, low-cut, skintight outfits. On a couple of occasions, all three step out of the water with wet, clinging T-shirts. Alice begins to get ready for a shower, and just before disrobing she spots a guy hidden in the corner of the locker room peeping on her.
Resident Evil films are obviously all about adrenalized action and zombie decimation. And Afterlife approaches that "responsibility" with as much high-tech realism as its audience can stomach. More, even.
Zombies and humans are shot in the head with pistols and shotguns (blowing off chunks of their skulls), limbs are hacked off with long blades and other sharp objects, and torsos and faces are impaled and bullet-riddled. In one instance the camera gruesomely peers inside a man's carved out skull. Scores of figures are obliterated in explosions, fall splatting to the ground from a high rooftop and, in one case, a crowd is smeared into the ground by a low-flying plane.
All of this bloodletting is further enhanced by the crystal-clear slo-mo 3-D effects.
For example, Alice and Claire battle an 8-foot-tall behemoth in a large public shower area. As the women somersault around with choreographed precision, shooting, stabbing and dropkicking the hooded man, he swings an enormous ax/hammer—literally hacking a man in half with it at one point. Each water droplet and blood spout jumps off the screen, and the shotgun-full-of-quarters brain-splattering finale is captured in glop-by-glop detail.
The zombies contribute their fair share of yuck by ripping out throats, chomping on various body parts and savaging unsuspecting innocents. On occasion their faces and bodies split open in meaty, flower-like—deadly—petals.
Crude or Profane Language
Right around a half-dozen f-words and s-words. Four or five uses of "b‑‑ch" and a couple each of "d‑‑n," "h‑‑‑" and "a‑‑." God's name is misused a handful of times, once in combination with "d‑‑n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Early on, Alice is injected with an antivirus serum. (We see the substance injected and rushing through her veins.) Claire and others have spider-like devices clamped on their chests that inject regular doses of a debilitating drug.
Most likely, you already know that the Resident Evil movies are loosely based on a series of horror/survival video games. And while this newest addition only has moments that actually feel like one of those monster-in-the-shadows titles, it's still very game-like. And that's not such a good thing.
There's quite a lot of visual flash. Director Paul W.S. Anderson decided to mark his return to the franchise by filming with the same 3-D technology used for the movie Avatar. And so the Matrix-like slo-mo scenes dazzle as characters dodge bullets and leap off buildings with guns ablaze. But it all starts feeling pretty stale after the third or fourth weapon, bullet or chunk of flesh flies free from the screen.
And the 3-D may actually make the movie's characters feel even more like cardboard. As is the case with many of the weaker games out there, this flick's thin, tagged-on storyline seems to have been contrived only to afford more chances for somersault beheadings and brain purees. The opening sequence explains so little of the backstory that anyone but an established fan (or a movie reviewer) will be pretty lost. It's all splat-in-your-face action with no dramatic substance.
Some, then, may justify Resident Evil: Afterlife as being simply a mindless amusement. But let's face a few facts: 1) Gory visuals leave behind residue you probably don't want lingering the next time you're digging into a plate of roast beef. 2) Girls against the gross isn't doing our culture any favors. 3) Mindlessness has been overrated for at least 25 years now.