by Mel Valentin
"Resident Evil: Extinction," the concluding chapter in a trilogy no one asked for, let alone wanted (minus producers eager to fatten their bank accounts on unwitting audiences, of course), is lackluster, dull, unengaging, and unoriginal. It’s also directed with minimal style or energy by a once-promising director-turned-hack, Russell Mulcahy ("The Shadow," "Highlander," "Razorback"). It’s not working from writer/director/producer Paul W.S. Anderson’s ("Resident Evil: Apocalypse," "Resident Evil," "Aliens vs. Predator," "Mortal Kombat," "Shopping") derivative screenplay. Given Anderson’s involvement as writer/director on "Resident Evil" and as writer/producer on the sequels, it’s no surprise that "Resident Evil: Extinction" is just as mediocre as its predecessors.Resident Evil: Extinction picks up with the genetically engineered Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she kicks it in the American Southwest, Mad Max/Road Warrior-style. Created by the Umbrella Corporation for use as a biological weapon, the T-Virus doesn’t just kill its victims, it turns them into mindless, bloodthirsty, ravenous automatons. In Resident Evil, the T-Virus escaped into the Umbrella Corporation’s underground lab, killing hundreds. In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the T-Virus spread into Raccoon City, killing tens of thousands before it was apparently contained. It wasn’t. Five years later and the entire world has become a giant wasteland overrun by the undead. The survivors are few, their numbers dwindling rapidly.
"The "best" entry in the series...and that's not saying much."
The end of the world as we know it doesn’t stop the Umbrella Corp. from continuing to do research headed by the amoral Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen). Isaacs is more than willing to experiment on the living, the near dead, and the definitely dead. Isaacs nominally answers to the head of the Umbrella Corp., Albert Wesker (Jason O'Mara), but Wesker can only supervise Isaacs remotely (he’s in Japan). Isaacs’ search for a cure involves a small army of clones, each one identical to Alice, including the red dress she wore in the first two entries in the series. If he can’t find a cure, Isaacs plans on domesticating the zombies. Instead, he creates, wait for it, “super-zombies.” They’re faster, stronger, and smarter than your average, slow moving, disease-ridden zombie.
After wandering off the grid for months through an abandoned Southwest without aim or purpose, Alice runs into two friends/acquaintances, Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and L.J. (Mike Epps), survivors she met in Raccoon City. Olivera and L.J. are part of a convoy led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), drifting from one road stop or small town to another until Alice shows up to save them from an attack of “zombie-crows.” Apparently, Alice, or “Project Alice” as Isaacs calls her, has telekinetic powers in addition to her ass-kicking ones. Alice suggests Alaska as a potential haven from the zombie plague, but running out of fuel, the survivors decide a pit stop in Las Vegas is necessary.
Resident Evil: Extinction is basically a mash-up of George Miller’s Mad Max/Road Warrior and George A. Romero’s Dead series (specifically Day of the Dead), with a nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. To call Resident Evil: Extinction a letdown, doesn't go far enough in describing how underwhelming it really is. Given the "talent" involved, Paul W.S. Anderson, whose "best" film, Event Horizon, had little going for it except the production design, a director, Russell Mulcahy, trying for a comeback, and the recognition that videogame adaptations have been, at best, passably entertaining (e.g., Silent Hill, Mortal Combat) and, at worst, abysmal (anything by Uwe Boll), you really can't use the word "surprised" to describe Resident Evil: Extinction’s failure to meet even the lowest expectations for a genre film.
As for character development, don’t expect any. Anderson and Mulcahy introduce or reintroduce characters, given them little screen time, and then promptly kill them off. A few characters have names, but without identifiable traits or backstories, they’re nothing more than zombie fodder, killed gruesomely but unimaginatively. Even the two characters held over from Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Olivera and L.J., barely get any screen time. Alice and Olivera’s relationship barely gets acknowledged before it ends conclusively (and not for the better). Not that anyone interested in seeing Resident Evil: Extinction is interested in a romantic subplot, but the way it’s left undeveloped is symptomatic of a slapdash screenplay that shamelessly rips off much better genre films.
If, however, you just want to see Milla Jovovich doing what she does best, looking bad-ass while she beats an army of the undead into submission, then Resident Evil: Extinction will disappoint you. With the exception of the prologue where Alice takes on a gang of cutthroats and their mutant dogs, we get one large-scale Alice-on-super-zombie set piece before the inevitable confrontation between Alice and the “big boss,” the mutant monster she has to take out to make the world a safer place for her army of clones. The clones, once awakened from suspended animation, will be looking for serious payback against the Umbrella Corp. On the plus side, the makeup effects are more than passable and the mix of CGI and scale models is mostly well done."Resident Evil: Extinction" is derivative, unoriginal, unimaginative, and unscary. As a videogame adaptation, "Resident Evil: Extinction" name checks characters, places, and plot points from the long running videogame series but unless you’re a diehard fan of the videogame series, the references are meaningless. Regardless of whether you’re a diehard fan of the videogame franchise or a genre fan looking for a zombie fix, you’re bound to be disappointed. Unfortunately, like the undead that feature semi-prominently in the videogames and on film, the "Resident Evil" franchise refuses to go away. Depending on how well "Resident Evil: Extinction" does financially, we might just see another entry in the series two or three years from now.
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originally posted: 09/21/07 00:00:00