- Rated R
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
h, zombies – the gift that keeps on giving. Or so it seems for Sony and the “Resident Evil” franchise, a series that continues to perform well at the box office despite a major drop-off in quality. That isn’t to say the films were very good to begin with, but the original remains one of the better video game adaptations to ever come out of Hollywood. Any credibility that film may have earned, however, was quickly erased with the release of “Resident Evil: Apocalypse,” an abomination of a sequel that didn’t deserve such a warm reception from fans. Now, a mere three years later, Sony is at it again with “Resident Evil: Extinction,” the purported third and final chapter in the series that will hopefully mark the end of a franchise gone awry.
“Extinction” takes place six months after the events of “Apocalypse,” and though the threat was seemingly eliminated in the last film’s closing minutes, like any good zombie movie, it’s only gotten worse. Apparently, the T-virus knows nothing about sharing, because it’s managed to dry up the oceans, kill all vegetation, and, well, consume the entire planet with death and disease. That hasn’t stopped a select few from surviving, though, including superhuman zombie-killer Alice (Milla Jovovich), a product of the evil Umbrella Corporation who wanders the desert alone like a nomadic warrior.
Eventually, Alice meets up with a convoy of survivors (including “Apocalypse” alum Oded Fehr and Mike Epps, as well as series newcomer Ali Larter) who, after expending every possible resource, decide to head for Alaska when word comes that the infection hasn’t reached that far. But fighting off an army of zombies is the least of Alice’s troubles. Umbrella scientist Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) is still hard at work on a cure for the infection, and the answer may lie in Alice’s blood.
Playing the part of who-could-care-less is the audience, because while the first two “Resident Evil” films actually made an attempt at progressing the story, “Extinction” is more than happy with its shallow woman-kills-zombies plot line. It would have been fine had that been the original purpose of the films, but the Capcom video game has always been about the mystery surrounding the zombies, and not the protagonist stuck in the middle. Director Russell Mulcahy makes a last-stitch effort to remedy this in the final act, but it’s a case of too little, too late; not to mention a pointless endeavor considering this is supposed to be the final chapter. Or is it? “Extinction” certainly keeps the door wide open for another sequel, but I can’t imagine there’s enough material to make it worthwhile.
Let’s hope not, because “Extinction” could have been a very different movie had the filmmakers cut out half the crap and developed a better ending instead. There’s so little going on throughout the course of the film that Mulcahy simply doesn’t know what to do with his actors. Jovovich has done this twice before, and is more than capable in the role of Alice, but others like Larter and Fehr are wasted in two-dimensional roles that serve the background better than the story at hand. It’s unfortunate that Mulcahy didn’t do more to develop these characters, especially when he wastes so much time detailing Umbrella’s secret underground base. Didn’t catch the blue CGI schematics the first time around? Don’t worry – they’re coming up a few more times, just in case you missed it.
It’s ultimately stuff like this that makes “Extinction” such a bore to watch. The action sequences are nothing new, and with the exception of an inspired set piece involving infected crows, the movie doesn’t feel any different from its predecessors. In fact, “Extinction” is almost exactly like “Apocalypse,” except in the desert, and while that may sound like an interesting mash-up of “The Road Warrior” and “Day of the Dead,” it doesn’t even come close. This is far from the trilogy-topping finale it was meant to be, but at least there’s some good to be made of this experience: it’s the last “Resident Evil” film we’ll ever have to sit through again.