Mark Reviews Movies

RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION

1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Russell Mulcahy

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Ashanti, Christopher Egan, Spencer Locke, Matthew Marsden, Mike Epps

MPAA Rating:   (for strong horror violence throughout and some nudity)

Running Time: 1:35

Release Date: 9/21/07


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Review by Mark Dujsik

It's over now, right? We're not going to have to endure another of these, right? Resident Evil: Extinction is the end of the series, right? Sure, there's a coda at the end that hints at a continuing story, but we can figure out what happens and don't need to have it shown to us, right? Right? The Resident Evil movies epitomize the reason there's a prejudice against movie adaptations video games. The plots are either nonexistent or messy when present. The characters' primary motivation is to walk, run, or shoot. The action is repetitive. All of that is true of the third installment of a series that at least has been consistently bad, but Extinction might be the worst of them. One of the more overused criticisms is that a movie has no plot, but I dare anyone to try to find a genuine plot here. Things happen, to be sure, but they are all sidebar events leading up to a big fight that, within the context of this movie, we don't care about and that, within the context of the fact that it's basically a copy of the climax of the last movie, could really have done without.

Our heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up on the floor of a shower. She moves into the bedroom and discovers a red dress. She walks into the hallway and realizes she's in a large mansion. It's déjà vu all over again. She stumbles from the mansion into a lab, where multiple traps have been set, and after avoiding a few, succumbs to a rotating gun that pops out of the floor. Some scientists hover over the dead body, and their leader Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) tells his subordinates to get sample of her blood and dispose of the body. Turns out, there's a cache of dead Alice clones littered above the subterranean lab, which is surrounded by a fence which is itself surrounded by hordes of zombies. The real Alice tells us that the infection caused by the Umbrella Corporation has spread across the globe, and the few survivors are always on the move. After yet another sidebar rescue attempt at a radio station that turns out to be an ambush, we're introduced to a caravan of survivors led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and containing Alice's old comrade Carlos (Oded Fehr), who are also on the move, not going anywhere fast.

Alice is wandering the wastelands of the West; the caravan stops somewhere in the desert to restock on supplies. Somehow, none of them is dirty. In fact, Milla Jovovich, whose presence was a redeeming factor in the last two installments, looks more like a moving photoset in Maxim than a nomadic warrior. Isaacs and his team are working on a serum to the zombie infection in their underground lab (which we see at least three times in a digital map feature), say their expository dialogue like they're being paid to say expository dialogue, and bring up memories of Shaun of the Dead when Isaacs suggests the less-than-human, cured subjects could be used as a "docile workforce." A member of Claire's team is bitten by a zombie, and his reaction is more akin to someone forgetting to record his favorite show than of someone about to become a member of the forces of the undead. There's a sad, tedious homage to The Birds, as Claire's team is attacked by zombie crows, such because they've eaten zombie flesh. Finally, after about an hour of Paul W.S. Anderson's rambling script, Alice meets up with Claire's convoy, and for the first time, the characters make a decision that could actually be a plot: They're going to Alaska.

But first, they need to stop where all wayward travelers must: Las Vegas. Yes, even after the movie finally decides what it's about, Anderson determines the best course of action is to have the characters become sidetracked again. Vegas is covered in sand and quiet—too quiet (as no one here says, but it sure would have fit in the cheesy dialogue they do say). There the team is assaulted by zombies who come out of a crate. Then they're attacked by more zombies from the same crate. And then some more. And some more. The clown car image only partially spoils the sequence (it was done earlier as the occupants of a school bus pile into a van); the core spoiling factor is its redundant nature. Alice slashes zombie throats, the team shoots at zombies, and zombies bleed profusely. It's gotten old, and director Russell Mulcahy doesn't believe that if something's broke, fix it. How else do you explain the climactic battle between Alice and a mutant Isaacs, which takes place back in the lab (no, even after deciding to go to Alaska, they don't) and is pretty much the same fight at the end of the last movie.

That the movie ends where it started only reminds us how useless and nonexistent the story of Resident Evil: Extinction really is, and what's worse is there's no closure to the series at the end. I never thought a field of naked Milla Jovovichs would fill me with a sense of dread and foreboding, but heaven help us, they might make a fourth one.

Copyright © 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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