Imagine "Beauty and the Beast" with zombies and explosions and hot women in miniskirts and you have some idea of what "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" is like.
The sequel to 2002's "Resident Evil" is a brainless, earsplitting amalgamation of reheated horror- and action-flick cliches, which first-time director Alexander Witt seems to have made exclusively for fans of the violent video game on which both films are based. It's hard to imagine who else would want to see this "Apocalypse" now.
But deep, deep down - we're talking really far down - it's sort of a bittersweet love story, as Alice, our beautiful, butt-kicking heroine, is forced to fight a killing machine called Nemesis, which may or may not be a slimy, genetically mutated version of her boyfriend, Matt, from the first film.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) is also superhuman now. The former security chief for the sinister Umbrella Corp. wakes up alone and naked in a hospital room and staggers out to find the fictional Raccoon City is silent, empty and devastated (a sequence that recalls that beginning of a far superior zombie movie, the truly suspenseful, strikingly shot "28 Days Later").
Apparently, all the Undead she fought in the first movie are back, and they're hungry for seconds.
"We thought we had survived the horror, but we were wrong," Alice says in a raspy opening voiceover. Which would suggest that there had already been an apocalypse. But hey - semantics, whatever.
Alice gets help from the tube-topped and tight-skirted Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), a demoted cop, and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr from "The Mummy" movies), the leader of an elite tactical team.
They scurry around, battling zombies and trying to escape Raccoon City by sunrise (when nuclear annihilation is expected, of course) while searching for Angie (Sophie Vavasseur), the young daughter of a scientist (Jared Harris) who was accidentally left behind during an evacuation.
But the fight scenes - supposedly the whole point of playing a video game, right? - are a dark and messy mix of overly edited swish pans and jump cuts.
The women get to do the vast majority of the butt-kicking in the script from Paul W.S. Anderson, who wrote and directed the first "Resident Evil" as well as the recent "Alien vs. Predator." But neither Jovovich nor Guillory is any match for Sigourney Weaver.
They'll get another chance to prove themselves, though: The cliffhanger ending clearly sets up a third "Resident Evil" movie. So we can look forward - or not - to "Apocalypse" redux.
"Resident Evil: Apocalypse," a Screen Gems release, is rated R for nonstop violence, language and some nudity. Running time: 93 minutes. One star out of four.
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