Review

Resident Evil: Extinction Review

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Sep 21, 2007 | 5:40am EDT

There has never been a good movie based on or inspired by a video game. The first Resident Evil was no exception but it made millions at the box-office so a franchise was born. Now in Resident Evil: Extinction the world has been overrun by the living dead and the civilization is in tatters; the planet itself is dying. So for that matter is this concept. Only a few survivors--including the genetically superior whirling dervish of a heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) still seeking her own Wonderland--brave the treacherous highways in search of supplies and sanctuary but there’s none to be found. Of course the treacherous Umbrella Corporation which started the whole mess in the first place is still up to its insidious tricks further wreaking havoc on what’s left of humanity. The story such as it is borrows bits and pieces from such varied but hardly unexpected inspirations as George A. Romero Alfred Hitchcock and the Mad Max films. The bad guys who tend to speak with British accents all wear ties. The good guys look like they just crawled out of a mosh pit. There may be some symbolism here but few will bother to delve into it. Like this entire Resident Evil franchise such an endeavor is pointless. In what has become her signature role  Milla Jovovich again displays her physical agility but it’s when she’s called upon to deliver lines or display emotion that the well dries up. The film does offer the unique novelty of having Alice encounter one of her own clones meaning that Jovovich has the opportunity to act opposite herself. It may be the most frightening scene in the film. Songbird Ashanti gets big billing but a smallish role as a survivor who doesn’t remain so for very long. Oded Fehr  Iain Glen and Mike Epps all holdovers from Resident Evil: Apocalypse couldn’t find better things to do or were contractually obliged to reprise their roles. In any case it’s highly unlikely any of them will be back if there’s--horrors!--another installment. Unfortunately the ending of the film leaves the door wide open for further Resident Evils and that’s enough to chill even the stoutest moviegoer to the bone. Everyone seems to be just going through the motions. By this point one can hardly blame them. Paul W.S. Anderson who directed the first Resident Evil installment has written all three. In baseball parlance that would indicate strike three. Nevertheless he’s been engaged to leading lady Jovovich for what seems like forever and the two will be producing a baby any time now so mere criticism about his craft would undoubtedly be a secondary consideration for him. Extinction director Russell Mulcahy whose best-known film remains Highlander has always been a director who favors style over substance. Among directors he’s hardly alone in that. And in the milieu of Resident Evil that approach is de rigueur. These films have never been about substance; they’ve been about action and gore. If it’s Mulcahy’s intent to replicate the depth of a video game then he--and his predecessors in the Resident Evil series--have succeeded. This is flash and panache smoke and mirrors--a movie only skin deep. There’s plenty of bloodshed more than enough to earn the film its (undoubtedly desired) R rating but it’s a safe bet that there will be an unrated version on DVD before too long.

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