Finally, a supercomputer that HAL can drool over: The poshly accented Red Queen is a see-all AI villain, and she can easily outwit and outlast any fools (read: bad actors) who attempt to infiltrate the Hive, an underground research facility dedicated to the development of a deadly virus. Beyond that, the who, what, and why of Resident Evil, the latest video game to make it to the big screen courtesy of Mortal Kombat director Paul W.S. Anderson, are unimportant. Things begin promisingly, with a frantic action sequence intercutting Hive employees trapped underground when the protective computer shuts the place down after a lab accident and, on the other side of town, Milla Jovovich lying surely dead on the floor of her shower. Then, all of the workers finally die, Alice (Jovovich) gets up, and the blah-blah exposition begins for those not familiar with the titular shoot-’em-up. But just when the movie starts to feel like a science lecture too infrequently interrupted by one wicked battle against the machine, the commando crew that’s sent into the Hive to search for survivors meets…the zombies. It’s during this gee-whiz journey into a hi-tech Wonderland that Resident Evil gets, if not exactly good, at least more interesting. Alice jump-kicks dogs who look as if they’d been turned inside out and kills one of the undead with her thighs, and team co-leader Rain (Girlfight’s Michelle Rodriguez)—who we know is a badass because she cleans her fingernails with a knife—shoots the hell out of one zombie who bites her (“bitch ain’t standing now”) and pulls a couple of her male colleagues out of trouble in true tough-chick style. Whereas the men of Resident Evil (who include A Knight’s Tale supporter James Purefoy and James Bond vet Colin Salmon) are unimpressively interchangeable, its women—whether made of circuitry or flesh—are both the brains and muscles of every fight, and Jovovich and Rodriguez both soldier through convincingly enough. The soundtrack, penned by self-proclaimed vid kid Marilyn Manson and Scream scorer Marco Beltrami, gives the action an appropriately hardcore feel (something Lara Croft: Tomb Raider lacked), though it sometimes also drowns out the dialogue. But who’s gonna be watching this thing for the talk, anyway? —Tricia Olszewski

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