When it comes to the 'Resident Evil' movie franchise, I have a tendency to divide it into two trilogies. The first three, I'd refer to as the "Apocalypse Trilogy", where the big concern is surviving undead creatures and Umbrella's sinister creations. The second trilogy, is the "Umbrella Trilogy", where the focus shifts far more towards the Umbrella Corporation itself, and taking down the big wigs while making sure everything "looks cool". I also consider the second trilogy to be more of a "style over substance" thing, almost as if all three final films are one big climactic epic. This is debatable, but this is just me.
The fourth film even opens with a recap from "My Name is Alice" (Milla Jovovich), and since this begins the "Umbrella Trilogy", it's only fitting that I do the same, so we can start somewhat fresh here. So to recap, an incident happens in an underground lab that unleashes the "T-Virus", and eventually leads to the zombie apocalypse. This unfolds in the first three films by showing us its evolution through the Hive (Umbrella's secret underground facility), the fictional Raccoon City, then of course, the world. Former Umbrella worker, Alice, survives the first film, and by the second film is experimentally infused with the T-Virus, bonding with it, and creating a bad ass. Alice pretty much makes it her mission to hunt down Umbrella for not only destroying the world, but keeping constant with experimentation - which includes using her DNA to recreate her.
This is where the fourth film here picks up, as Alice has found a buttload of clones of her, has freed them, and as a team, a whole whack of Alices is now storming Umbrella HQ in Tokyo, and they just tear shit up. Umbrella Head, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), however, manages to escape, detonating a bomb that destroys Umbrella HQ and all Alices within - except of course the real one who manages to escape on Wesker's plane. Her attempt on his life is nearly successful, but he manages to inject her with an anti-virus, taking away all of her awesome abilities. Just to get things rolling, however, the plane eventually crashes, and Alice survives, but now has to rely on her average abilities which are surprisingly similar to her superhuman ones.
Anyway, she travels to her Alaskan destination of "Arcadia", determined in the third film to be the last refuge for humanity. Before the end of the third film, however, Alice goes after Umbrella, leaving the friends she made to make it to Arcadia, themselves. Among them, Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), who Alice stumbles upon when she finds Arcadia to be not quite what she expected. Anyway, I could be unfolding plot stuff here all day, but the pair soon travel to Los Angeles where they find a prison full of survivors. Lead by Luthor West (Boris Kodjoe), they also meet Wendell (Fulvio Cecere), Crystal Waters (Kacey Clarke), Bennett (Kim Coates), Kim Yong (Norman Yeung), Angel Ortiz (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), and last but not least, Wentworth Miller in his heyday, playing someone who may be a huge spoiler if revealed.
As the film continues, we learn things like what Arcadia really is, and the fact that Alice's venture against Umbrella isn't over yet - indeed, it's just beginning. As for Wesker? Well, again, no spoilers (even if you don't really care). For me, the 'Resident Evil' film series is okay at best, and a lot of it has to do with chapters like this, where it's nothing but eye candy - and at this point, dated eye candy. The slow-motion, or "bullet time" cliche has pretty much become a parody of itself, and it was used a LOT here. A lot of that was also to show off the new superior 3D technology we got with 'Avatar'. Yes, this was the second (I believe) film to actually use it. So in theaters, I remember it looking amazing, but that was about the extent of it. Otherwise it felt very simplistic, and there to show off new technology and what it could do.
As usual, I'm reviewing this not so much as a video game adaptation as its own thing - the fourth of a chain of six movies telling one long story. If you're able to see things as such, and you're not really that into the games (like me), it can be a perfectly entertaining experience if you can just let go, and treat it like some kind of bad ass Saturday morning cartoon... with swearing and violence. These have never been a set of movies I've hated in any way, but there are a few I find to be "lesser" than others, and this is one of them. The entertainment comes from the look and style, and the big problem with the 3D aspect, is that it's only really available on the big screen. After that, it's kind of just a balls to the wall action flick with very little substance, and this would continue with the next film. But more on that soon enough.