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Rocket to the crypt

It’s not hard to see why the money people in Hollywood wanted another installment of the “Resident Evil” franchise. “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” follows a successful first film and a very successful video game. Even with plenty of special effects, it’s cheap enough to make with a first-time director and a couple of B-list stars. And after all, everyone likes to see zombies getting blasted away.

The last part of that calculus is the only part of “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” that doesn’t quite live up to expectations. There are zombies aplenty – a whole city’s worth, in fact – but we only get to see a few brief scenes of massed zombies being dispatched by hyped-up heroes.

Instead of zombie footage, the movie involves us in a relatively bland subplot regarding the true purpose of the “T-virus” that created the walking dead. This subplot is so telegraphed ahead, that watching it unfold is only made bearable during the film’s denouement, when the true scope of the Umbrella Corporation’s evil plans are laid bare.

Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, the Umbrella Corp. employee who accumulates past lives at an alarming rate. After the first film, her turns in “The Messenger” and “The Fifth Element,” she’s also running the risk of

being typecast as a preternaturally perfect female warrior.

Luckily for Jovovich, her

duties as head zombie assassin

are shared with Sienna Guillory, who plays Jill Valentine, a

disgraced cop who gives no

quarter to the undead hordes. Valentine outdoes the often scantily-clad Jovovich, sporting a micro-miniskirt and blue bustier. Most people wouldn’t expose so much skin to biting zombies, but apparently Valentine is just that tough.

“Resident Evil: Apocalypse” covers all its bases: flesh (both alive and undead), explosions and corporate malfeasance. One thing could be added to this otherwise solid shoot-’em-up: little bit of soul.

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