STARRING: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Mike Epps, Ali Larter, Chris Egan, Ashanti, Iain Glen, Sienna Guillory, Jason O'Mara

2007, 94 Minutes, Directed by:
Russell Mulcahy

Description: The third installment of the $100 million Resident Evil hits, Resident Evil: Extinction is again based on the wildly popular video game series and picks up where the last film left off. Alice (Milla Jovovich), now in hiding in the Nevada desert, once again joins forces with Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and L.J. (Mike Epps), along with new survivors Claire (Ali Larter), K-Mart (Spencer Locke ) and Nurse Betty (Ashanti) to try to eliminate the deadly virus that threatens to make every human being undead...and to seek justice. Since being captured by the Umbrella Corporation, Alice has been subjected to biogenic experimentation and becomes genetically altered, with super-human strengths, senses and dexterity. These skills, and more, will be needed if anyone is to remain alive.

It’s The Road Warrior meets Night of the Living Dead in Resident Evil: Extinction. This sequel kicks off where the previous movie left off with almost the entire planet having been infected with a zombie virus. Our heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich of Fifth Element and Ultraviolet fame) has been imbued with super strength and agility thanks to some genetic tampering; not to mention telekinesis and the ability to create invisible force fields just like Jessica Alba did in the Fantastic Four movies. (In one scene she levitates several rocks as well as a BMW off-road motorbike pretty much in the same way that Luke Skywalker did in that one scene with Yoda in Empire Strikes Back). Handy skills for a post-apocalyptic scenario that involves the dead walking the earth again . . . except she manages to trash the motorbike and has to hoof it the rest of the way.

"Will zombies need superfluous sequels?"

In the meantime, back at the Umbrella Corporation’s labyrinthine underground facility, an evil scientist from the previous movie is hatching a plan not to cure all the human flesh-eating zombies now prowling the face of the earth, but to “domesticate” them. That is, turn them into slave labor for the malevolent Umbrella Corporation, which inadvertently released the virus that turned the planet into a zombie holocaust in the first place. This is a neat little comment on corporate avarice from a huge multinational (Sony) that is greedily wringing all the money it can from a movie franchise based on a computer game! However our corporate drones have a poor grasp of basic economics. With most of the planet’s population turned into brainless zombie laborers, who is left to buy the products made by said zombie work force? Capitalism works best when laborers actually buy the products they produce or will zombies need tooth paste? Playstation games? Superfluous sequels?

Back in Nevada Alice comes across a convoy of surprisingly not-so haggard survivors that seems to have drifted in from The Road Warrior. For some reason all the women still wear makeup and dresses the way they no doubt saw Linda Hamilton do in Terminator 2 – Judgment Day. She helps them battle some zombie killer crows (yup, you read that right) in a scene which you can’t decide whether it is a rip-off of or a homage to Hitchcock’s The Birds. We’ll go with rip-off here. Afterwards they decide to pick up some supplies in Las Vegas, which is somehow partially submerged beneath the desert sand, but hey, this sort of thing is bound to happen when you let zombies run the planet . . .

If you’re waiting for a plot to kick in somewhere in-between this synopsis, then you are not the only one. The Resident Evil movies have never been great cinema but at least they were pretty focused, stripping away niceties such as character exposition and development in favor of action. Extinction also pretty much leaves its characters behind in the dust, but the plot meanders around aimlessly for a huge chunk of the film’s 90 minutes plus running time in the same way as its lost Mad Max-like protagonists scour the landscape. At several points a plot seems to be kicking in (our heroes are off to Alaska like the Simpsons in their recent movie!) but this is not to be alas.

Another problem is that some exposition or flashbacks would have been in order just to get the audience in on the picture again. You’ll however be scratching your head for quite a while trying to figure out plot specifics: how is the zombie virus spread for instance? Is it airborne? Or only if you’re bitten by an infected person? How can an Umbrella Corporation satellite shut down Alice? Is she an android now? And so on.

Fans of the previous movies probably won’t be disappointed even though this sequel feels downright anti-climactic at times. Post-apocalyptic movie buffs will also thrill at the sight of an oil tanker plowing through endless hordes of the living dead and get all nostalgic about all those early-1980s Road Warrior rip-off flicks they no doubt saw as kids. For the rest of us getting restless in our cinema seats: we’ll be wishing that we saw Extinction for free on the Sci-Fi Channel late one night instead of forking out a full-price theatre admission for it . . .



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