FILM REVIEW: Resident Evil: Extinction

Resident Evil
Resident Evil

Resident Evil: Extinction comes after Resident Evil: Apocalypse, a film I have not seen.  From what I understand, that film was a sequel to Resident Evil, a film I don’t completely regret seeing, although there are days when I secretly yearn for those lost ninety minutes of my life.  All three films are nominally based on a series of games that I have played, and recall having a better sense of atmosphere, fright, and character than the films.  When the movies inspired by video games are less cinematic than their inspiration, you’ll have problems.

Resident Evil: Extinction suggests that the infamous T-virus, which brought the dead back to life, has escaped from Raccoon City and infected the entire world, even going so far as to dry up all the lakes of the world.  I didn’t know viruses could do that.  Alice (Milla Jovovich) is a woman on the run, living the life of a post-apocalyptic nomad, searching for food and shelter.  She’s still the kind of gal that will swing her knifes through the air and pose before she attacks a zombie.  After the events of the series, I’m amazed she still has the energy.

Her chief adversary in this film is one she will almost never see: an evil doctor named Isaacs, who uses the blood of Alice’s clones to domesticate zombies.  In a scene that shamelessly rips from Romero’s Day of the Dead, we see a chained zombie fondly recall items it used in life, up to and including a cell phone whose label is prominently displayed.  As for the cloned Alices, Isaacs places them in sets from the original film, since, I dunno, I guess he enjoys it.

He even goes so far as to outfit them in the same red dress, high boots, and underpants that Jovovich wore in the first film.  We later see a pile of the clones stuck in a ditch, each one decked out in the same gear, and I regret to say that I was wondering one thing: do they have an endless supply of those high-class dresses stowed away for moments such as this?  During the evacuation of the world above, was one soldier shouting, “Where are the dresses?!  Have we confirmed the safety of the red dresses?!”  Then again, it is possible that Alice’s DNA remembers her outfit, since it remembers her hair highlights, eyeshadow, and lipstick.

Meanwhile, Alice joins a band of Road Warrior wannabes who drive across America, searching for supplies.  Leading them is Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), who has led the group for the past few months, during which they have lost half of their members, which suggests a new leader is in order.

Oh.  Almost forgot.  Alice has gained powers inspired by Tetsuo from Akira.  Sadly, her powers don’t work whenever they would be helpful to her fellow men, like, say, during zombie attacks in Vegas.  Most of the time, she sits around, looking sorry for herself, not realizing that life as a telekinetic ass-kicking zombie-killer is probably pretty fun.  She comes alive during scenes with Carlos (Oded Fehr), apparently her boyfriend from Apocalypse.  Maybe she’s attracted to the way he doesn’t dress his entire body, leaving his upper arms open to zombie attacks.

Eventually, all of these plot threads (story threads would imply there’s a story here, which there isn’t) come together, with mostly unsurprising results.  Well, that’s not true.  I was surprised that one thread wasn’t even resolved.  I guess that was a surprise.  I’d like to think that Resident Evil nurds will appreciate cameos from Umbrella leader Wesker, the ubiquitous infected dogs, and a special guest star: the Tyrant.  However, I suspect that most coming into this movie just want to turn off their brain and watch stuff blow up.  This film has explosions, and gore and undead-dog-kung-fu-kicks to beat the band.

What it lacks is coherence, passion, or intelligence.  Call me old-fashioned, but I think just one of those could make all the difference in this zombie-infested world.

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