September 24, 2007

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Extinction

What do you get when you cross the future wasteland setting of the Mad Max series, the underground research facility of Day of the Dead, and the apocalyptic virus of The Stand? If you answered Resident Evil: Extinction, you're right! If you said any other movie, you failed to read the name of this review, take a minute to go back and refresh yourself. I'll wait. Back? Good. Anyway, this movie is fun. Not really "good" in the classic sense of the word, but there are much worse things you could be doing with your cinematic time. I mean, you could be sitting in the next theater over, subjecting yourself to Dane Cook. Honestly, who would you rather be watching on the big screen? A seriously not funny Cook, or Milla Jovovich kicking some zombie ass? I know, easy question.

This third outing for the video game inspired franchise ups the ante. The first film had Alice (Jovovich) discovering the zombie outbreak in a secret facility underneath a mansion in Raccoon City. The second outing, subtitled Apocalypse, had the outbreak on the surface, consuming the city as the malevolent Umbrella Corporation continued their experimentation with the T-Virus. This third film ups the ante. Extinction takes the outbreak global.

It has been about ten years since the events of Apocalypse. The T-Virus has spread across the globe wiping out most of humanity, turning them into flesh eating zombies. The infection spread to animals and infected water supplies. Nature has begun reclaiming what humanity had appropriated, evidenced by the Las Vegas of this universe, the desert sands have swept into the city, leaving it uninhabitable. The story picks up with Alice traveling by motorcycle, staying off radar and taking out what zombies she can find.

Meanwhile, there is a convoy of survivors moving from town to town looking for supplies. They are led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr). It is inevitable that the convoy will eventually meet up with Alice as their paths are doomed to cross. It said so in the script. Anyway, the danger of the zombies around them is nothing compared to what Umbrella is about to bring down upon them.

Nearby, there is a farmhouse in the middle of the wasteland, it is fenced in to keep out the large number of zombies congregating around. Beneath this innocent looking home lies a large underground facility (shown many times via 3-D schematics) housing Umbrella's latest experiments. They are trying to domesticate the zombies (think Day of the Dead's Bub). Well, these nefarious evildoers have found Alice approaching. That is pretty much it. Alice discovers that Umbrella is after her and heads straight to them. You know, save them the trouble and set up some big action scenes along the way.

This is the kind of movie that is a lot of fun while your watching it. Allow yourself to be wowed by the visual candy and go along for the ride. Just try not to think to hard, save that for when the movie is over. Once it's over you can start picking it apart and wondering about certain things.

Resident Evil: Extinction was directed by veteran director Russell Mulcahy. If nothing else, he brings a little experience to the franchise. In that respect, this outing has a bit more focus than the second one. He delivers some fine action and a story that stays on track. The main problems lie with the script, by Paul WS Anderson. My biggest problem is with the ending. No, I won't tell you how it ends, but it feels like a mid-point. Much like Back to the Future 2 ended with the direct lead to the third (which was already filming), this one ends with a lead to a potential fourth film. Not to mention little factoids and plot points that could have done with a little more exploration. You'll know them when you see them.

Even with the lack of depth, this is a movie that provides plenty of action, lovely women laying some waste to the undead, and is flat out fun. I know I had a smile on my face throughout the 96 minutes that it lasted. For the lovers of blood, there are plenty of zombies that get shot up and chopped up. For the lovers of plot, well, I think we already covered that.

Bottomline. Will there be a fourth film? If this one makes some decent bank you can probably bet on it. My guess is that yes, there will be. I have even read rumors of a spin-off featuring the Claire character. Whatever happens, I am sure I will be in the audience. As nonsensical as the stories can be the action is high, as is the fun factor. I am willing to suspend disbelief for Milla. Are you?



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