Milla Jovovich - Alice
Iain Glen - Dr. Issacs
Ali Larter - Claire Redfield
Oded Fehr - Carlos Olivera
Mike Epps - L.J.
Spencer Locke - K-Mart
Ashanti - Betty
Linden Ashby - Chase
Matthew Marsden - Slater
Jason O'Mara - Albert Wesker
Genre - Horror/Action/Science Fiction/Zombies/Video Games
Running Time - 94 Minutes
If I were to pick a video game franchise that I could working extremely well as a film franchise, Resident Evil would be near the top of the list. With five major installments and multiple spin-offs, there's a lot of material to base movies off of. I mean, you have zombies, puzzles, interesting characters and locations, and nail-biting action at times. How could a film studio screw this up?
Yep. I really asked that question. Where's my dunce cap?
Seriously, the RESIDENT EVIL film franchise is one that just makes me scratch my head. The fact that Sony, Screen Gems, and Paul W.S. Anderson refuse to let the franchise feel like Resident Evil is just bizarre. Why are the video game characters playing second fiddle to a film creation called Alice? Why aren't there enough zombies, Lickers, and other monstrosities? You have a lot of material to work from. Use it!
Still, RESIDENT EVIL has created the most successful video-game adapted franchise, with the third sequel, AFTERLIFE, being released this weekend in 3-D. Milla Jovovich as Alice appeals to a lot of people. The films, while critic failures, are commercial successes. And here I am on this blog, talking about the third film in the series called EXTINCTION - a film I [and many other people I know] disliked when I watched it in theaters back in 2007 and hadn't seen since. Yet, it's the most successful RESIDENT EVIL installment financially and even though it was considered the "final" installment, the cash flow changed that perception.
So after three years, has my opinion changed by RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION? Yes, but not by much. It's still a stinker of a film, but it's not the worst video-game adaptation I've seen in my life.
Years after the events of RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE, the T-Virus has spread not just in Raccoon City, but all over the world. Now the zombie race is the majority, while the human race is the dwindling minority. Not only that, but all vegetation life has disappeared and the Oceans have dried. Only a small group of survivors are trying to find safety by travelling through this wasteland, never staying in one place long enough for the infected to find them.
Meanwhile, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is doing her own journey, trying to keep away from her allies so the Umbrella Corporation [who is tracking her] doesn't go after them. She finds a book that tells her Alaska is the survivors' only place of salvation. Along the way, Alice's superpowers continue to evolve with the addition of telekenesis on the X-Men's Phoenix-like levels.
Also, Umbrella is conducting experiments on Alice clones, hoping to recreate their most successful experiment. Apparently Alice's blood is the antivirus for the T-Virus. But the clones are flawed, only creating super zombies.
Why don't we just throw in the kitchen sink while we're at it?
I have three words for RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION:
WHAT THE FUCK??
RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION is considered the worst of the RESIDENT EVIL films as of this posting, and I have to agree. It's heavily flawed, with more plot holes than a slice of swiss cheese. The characters stink. And it just takes the series further away from its Resident Evil roots. Yet, there are things I do like about this installment that I didn't like in the other installments.
Let's get the positives out of the way first. RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION has the best visual style of the franchise so far. HIGHLANDER and RAZORBACK director, Russell Mulcahy, brings his A-game to a film that probably didn't deserve it. But the film is visually stunning to look at and definitely has a lot of stylistic flair going for it. I thought the cinematography was beautiful, especially for all the exterior shots of Las Vegas and the desert wasteland in general. The aerial photography was great. The editing is mostly solid. I thought the action sequences were the best in the series, especially in terms of framing, composition, and choregraphy. Mulcahy does a fantastic job behind the camera, pulling the viewer in more than probably one should.
I also dug the homages to other films. Obviously, the apocalyptic wasteland is taken from the MAD MAX series, in particular THE ROAD WARRIOR. The crow attack sequence was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's THE BIRDS. And the experiment at the Umbrella Corporation where they attempt to domesticate zombies is a tip of the hat to George A. Romero's DAY OF THE DEAD. While this did make me wish I was watching one of those three movies and reviewing them instead of this one, at least the homages worked for me.
I also appreciated the gore and the zombie make up here. This is the goriest of the series so far [even though it's still pretty tame compared to other zombie films], and it makes RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION feel more like a zombie film than the other installments. Plus, the zombie make-up looks great and not as cheap as the previous installments. A definite upgrade.
Unfortunately, that's where the good stuff ends. Everything else in this installment is just lazy, uninspired, and/or a total mess. This is my third RESIDENT EVIL review in the past three weeks and I feel like I'm repeating myself everytime I write about these movies. Don't you think that's a sign that something needs to give here? I mean, is there any point in discussing the lack of character development? While this franchise isn't exactly known for strong, interesting characters, at least RESIDENT EVIL and RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE attempted to create some. RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION doesn't bother. Besides Alice, who else can we invest our time and energy in? If Anderson doesn't give a shit about any of the supporting characters on paper, why should we care on the screen? This film has a great premise, even if it is a bit unoriginal. But at least make an attempt to make us care about the protagonists. I couldn't care who lived or died here.
Another big pet peeve - the characterization of Claire Redfield. I don't care what anyone says. This woman is NOT Claire Redfield. She has no traits of one of the most popular Resident Evil characters in the franchise's history. Just because you can name a character Claire and give her red hair like the video game character doesn't make her that character. Jill Valentine worked because she was a pretty decent characterization of her counterpart. I honestly had no idea who this chick was. And she doesn't do anything of note besides drive a truck and pilot a helicopter. Hopefully we'll get something more in AFTERLIFE [I doubt it], but this was just insulting. Apparently, this role was going to be Jill Valentine, but Sienna Guillory was committed to ERAGON. So they replaced her with Claire instead without changing the dialogue or scenes she was in. If Claire wasn't supposed to be in this film, she shouldn't have been put in. It would have been a lot better than this.
I also thought most of the Umbrella Corporation scenes ruined the flow of the film. Some of them were sort of interesting, like the domestication of the zombies and some of the Alice clone stuff. But I thought the board meeting stuff was just expository and it took me out of the film more than I already was. And seriously, is that the best they could do with Albert Wesker? He should be the Big Bad kicking Alice's ass! Instead, he just sits around a table. Lame.
And then we have the multiple plot holes. Like, why Jill Valentine wasn't mentioned at least once when she was a big part of the previous installment? Or how did everything become desert when in reality, it would have gotten colder and greener due to lack of electricity, gas, and water power? And the loss of humanity actually STOPS the water cycle? Wow, science is fuckin' ass-backwards in this RESIDENT EVIL universe! Why is Umbrella perfecting the T-Virus when there's no one left to sell it to? And why didn't Carlos kill LJ once he was bitten by that zombie? Why didn't Carlos tell the others? And the T-Virus, which has now become more advanced, took a full TWO DAYS to kick in on LJ, when the more primitive version took hours in the first two films? I call BULLSHIT.
And I won't even get into Alice getting every damn super power possible. I would feel better about this subplot if we knew who or what Alice is. In three movies, we're still unsure why Umbrella considers her to be special or how she's immune to the T-Virus. This plot hole needed to be filled two movies ago. And now we have clones? Ugh. Didn't anyone learn from that Spider-Man fiasco fifteen years ago?
The acting is also pretty terrible. Milla Jovovich handles action well, but she's just bland during the more dramatic scenes. She needs to emote something for the audience to root for her. Maybe it's because her face was altered by CGI. Or was it botox? I'm not sure. Oded Fehr does the best he can as Carlos. His scene smoking a blunt is probably the highlight of the film [which says a lot about the rest of it]. Ali Larter is usually cool with me, but she's just wasted as Claire Redfield. I didn't buy her tough act at all. I blame the writing for that. Ashanti should stay away from acting. She looks good though. Mike Epps does okay with what he's given. It was nice to see Linden Ashby as always. I like that dude, no matter if the material sucks or not. And he wasn't too bad here. And Iain Glen was probably the best actor and character as Dr. Issacs. He chewed the scenery every chance he got as the main villain of the film. He entertained me. I wish the other actors did the same. But I mostly blame the terrible screenplay for that. The material wasn't all that great to begin with.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE HAVING MY SUPERPOWERED CLONE WRITE THIS REVIEW INSTEAD OF ME
- There was a huge pile of dead Alice clones for zombies to feast on. There might have been one for each bad video game-to-film adaptation, including this one.
- A bunch of goons tricked Alice and had her tied up in a pit. Well THE FOURTH KIND is abduction.
- Alice shot an arrow straight through a zombie's head. I guess William won't Tell no mo'...
- LJ made a date with Betty. He's "Foolish" if he thinks they'll both survive that long.
- Betty was killed by T-Virus infected crows. I guess Death is "Always On Time" and that makes him "Happy".
- LJ was infected by the T-Virus via zombie bite. I guess he won't live to see NEXT FRIDAY.
- Alice destroyed a group of zombies single-handedly. I'm sure she left them DAZED AND CONFUSED.
- Linden Ashby was bitten by zombies to death. Um... Fatality?
THE FINAL HOWL
I'm getting sick of reviewing this RESIDENT EVIL franchise. I feel like I've written the same review three times. RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION is more of the same, but worse. Great visual style, but not much else. How this ever became the highest grossing RESIDENT EVIL film is beyond me. This film has so many elements that could create a more than decent film. But it's just lazy and insulting to fans of both the video games and the movies. Unfortunately, I still have one more installment left to review. Though I'm going into it with low expectations, I'll be happy if it's better than this movie. RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION is heading straight into the apocalyptic future of the WTF? Vault where it can...
1 Howl Outta 4