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Year: 2007

Run Time: 94 minutes

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Oded Fehr, Iain Glen, Ashanti, Christopher Egan, Spencer Locke, Matthew Marsden, Linden Ashby, Jason O'Mara, Mike Epps, Joe Hursley, John Eric Bentley, James Tumminia, Kirk B.R. Woller.

Director: Russel Mulcahy

DVD Features:

WS (2.40:1)

Multilingual audio tracks: English, French, Spanish

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Trailers: Vantage Point, Dragon Wars, Untraceable, Zombie Strippers, Southland Tales

11 Deleted Scenes

Audio Commentary with Director Russel Mulcahy, Writer/Producer Paul W.S. Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt

Making of Featurettes: Alice Vision: Reproduction; The Big Bang; Shooting Resident Evil Extinction; Bigger, Faster, Stronger: The Undead Evolve; Vegas Visual Effects: Miniatures

Sneak Peek for: Resident Evil: Degeneration (CGI movie)

Disclaimer

I follow one simple golden rule with my reviews, namely NOT giving too much away about the plot or story particulars. I feel a good review should inform about the movie without revealing specifics, thus ruining the movie for those who have yet to see it. Problem is there's not much I could say about this flick that wouldn't ruin the movie for the plot, such as it is, is minimal to nonexistent. That said. .

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The DVD

Sadly the packaging was minimal. No inserts, no liner notes, just the DVD. Of which I have no complaints so far. The picture was crisp and clear. The sound was excellent. The extras interesting, especially the decision to include a trailer for Zombie Strippers. It sounds like they lifted the basic premise of the Resident Evil movies; speaking of which. .

Overview

Resident Evil: Extinction contains-- gun fu, evil corporate goons, zombie mayhem, one nice explore-the-dark-corridors scene with blinking lights that will have players of 3D FPS feeling nostalgic, semi-nude Milla Jovovich clones, a evil scientist turned mutant, a pit full of dead Milla Jovovich clones, telekinesis, zombie crows, a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas buried under sand dunes, a zombie state trooper, knife fu, super zombies, and a plethora of ideas/scenes shamelessly emulated/lifted from/patterned after such movies as Day of the Dead, The Birds, Alien Resurrection/Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Mad Max/The Road Warrior, with winks and nods to Judge Dredd, Damnation Alley, Waterworld, and Firestarter.

The Story

The T-virus has spread across the globe turning the world into a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland. Alice (the main character from the first two movies) does her best Mad Max impression by wandering the wastelands on her motorbike because of, uhm, so she can, okay the movie didn't really explain this. (Alice is supposidly dodging Umbrella corp spy satellites but the story development is so poor you literally need a after movie debrief to piece the plot together.) But she does come to the aide of a band of what appears to be the only (?) survivors traveling across the barren landscape in a convoy of typical post-apocalyptic vehicles. .

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After a moment of silence over their freshly buried dead the convoy, with Alice now tagging along because her latent telekinetic (?) powers smashed her motorbike while she slept, sets off in search of food and gas. In other words it's your typical bare bones post-apocalyptic adventure story, only with undead zombies instead of mutants. .

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Amazing how they actually got a feature length movie out of such a threadbare premise. How can a virus turn the planet into a desert? My guess is the script writer reads David Weber and got the idea from that author's Heirs of Empire series, though therein the virus was unleashed by a super advanced starfaring civilization (accidentally) millennia ago and it didn't create zombies so much as nullifying all life by breaking down protein bonds in cells or some such. But like the T-virus it was a virtually uncontainable plague that reduced infected planets to desert wastelands. Only remote outposts survived, barely.

I'm not knocking the movie or writers for lack of originality as this is a commonly explored idea in science fiction. Besides as a very wise man once said there's nothing much new under the sun, so I'm willing to cut the movie some slack.

Analysis

Zombie movies are not my favorite genre of film yet I've enjoyed the Resident Evil franchise even though I've never played the original computer games on which the movies are based. Extinction is a cheesy, dotingly clichéd, big budget zombie movie with gritty Mad Max attitude. Usually the specious clichéd rationales (when given) for why the undead exist in zombie movies seem too ridiculous to allow for suspension of disbelief. Yet somehow I've been able to do that with the Resident Evil movies, for the most part. It may seem absurd to complain about the lack of logic or 'realistic' explanations, even pseudo-scientific ones, where zombie movies are concerned; much less zombie movies based on a video game; but they are important to me.

So why do I feel like rolling my eyes at most zombie movies but not the Resident Evil series? That's easy they are fun and, shock and gasp, even manage to get me to cringe every now and again. Not since the halcyon days of my youth when watching classics like Return of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead for the first time have I experienced that. True, those movies went primarily for gore and shock value whereas Extinction is more of a crazy action flick. There's a bit of grue, it looks really convincing, but it's still obvious CGI SFX work, which lessens the visceral impact.

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There's also a bit of superhero grade silliness going on and not a lot of plot development. Yet Extinction looks really good. Then again the first movie in this series also managed to intrigue if parts were under whelming. But the fact I've purchased all three movies on DVD, and not any other established zombie series, says it all.

Even so going into Extinction I wasn't expecting much so imagine my shock, surprise, and utter childlike glee of astonishment when sitting down to watch my newly purchased DVD of Resident Evil: Extinction as I slowly realized that this is a massive, very intentional, homage movie. I'm not sure I got all the references but I got enough to know this is better than any of the assembly line comedy fumbles produced by Hollywood to spoof Hollywood movies.

Sure the movie may have the internal logic of a video game with zombies popping up at random and in impossible numbers. But Resident Evil: Extinction achieves what it set out to be, a send-up portrayal of the post-apocalyptic genre including several nods to popular horror movies. If you don't have a love for the post-apocalyptic genre Extinction may leave you cold. But if you have ever wondered what a Mad Max movie about a zombie apocalypse might be like rent Extinction!

And the bad?

Nitpicking

Well there are a few things. The plot is not developed beyond the "it will look cool so let's shoot it" school of filmmaking. The goals of the characters are very simple: escape (for the band of survivors) and kill (for Alice). And what did they do to poor Milla Jovovich's face?

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And why was it only in some of her close-ups? You can't really see the softening effect in screen caps but it's very noticeable on screen. My guess is this was an effect intended to add to the surreal feeling of the movie. Problem is the effect is a distraction.

Speaking of distractions for a band of survivors that have been living together in their vehicles for what one assumes has been several years they seem oblivious to the fact one of their members was bitten and is slowly turning into a zombie. You'd think, after all those years wandering the wasteland fighting zombies they'd learn to, if nothing else, notice the signs of infection, or at least be suspicious of any strange behavior in their comrades. Then again you'd also think that, when attacked, and suffering from a bloody head wound, they'd learn to make sure to check said person for bites.

Rendering characters brain dead stupid on whim has become a common plot device of lazy writers and is a prime example of how suspension of disbelief is hard to maintain while watching these movies. Speaking of which what was the deal with Las Vegas? They hyped this sequence before the movie hit theatres as a great and awesome bit of CGI work yet when the convoy, supposedly desperately searching for supplies and fuel, finally gets their they have a battle with super zombies then. . . NOTHING.

Where's the exploration of the ruins? The entire point of the trek to Vegas was to get gas and supplies yet, once the flashy overtly long zombie knife fu sequence is done all we get is a cheapjack cut to the next scene. There's no explanation, no attempt to further the plot by actually creating one, no attempt to provide closure to this minor sub-plot just. . . CUT TO NEXT SCENE. This is what annoys me about zombie movies. Even when they're big budget Hollywood productions they're vacuous nonsense.

Verdict

Resident Evil: Extinction is a movie about nothing in which a handful of characters do a whole lot of random stuff, sort of like that Friends TV show, only with zombies and a semi-nude Milla Jovovich. Never underestimate the appeal of a semi-nude gorgeous woman. Aside from the fact goals and mini-plot points are introduced then ignored, which means you could cut entire segments out of the movie since they were solely included because someone thought "it'll look cool so let's shoot it" and the only thing propelling the movie forward are rapid fire jump cuts it could have been a lot worse.

Extinction

is the whipped topping on the coffee cup of Hollywood mediocrity. There's been dozens, if not hundreds, of low budget and direct to video zombie movies made since Night of the Living Dead. Most are awful. Extinction is not. In short this is a fast paced put-your-brain-on-autopilot and enjoy the pointless epileptic action movie mayhem (the horror is sadly incidental) without pretensions to being anything other than mindless watch for-the-fun-of-it entertainment. For everyone else there's always the semi-nude Milla Jovovich clones.
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Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

[This is an archived review. Original appeared here.]