When the first Resident Evil film was announced, I was intrigued, just like countless other fans. Could this adaptation give video game fans hope for all future video game films? Regrettably, this was not the case. No, instead it took a half strung plot line and spliced in characters that could have been representations of the actual video game characters and delivered on only one thing: securing Milla Jovovich as an action actress.
The second film, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, did no better linking the video games to the film franchise. Even though it included Jill Valentine, Carlos, and Nemesis, Apocalypse should have made larger strides towards meshing the two franchises together again. Regrettably, it did not. The sequel honestly made the first one great. This is usually an accomplishment that is not that hard to achieve, but Apocalypse achieved it much quicker and with more flair than Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
Therefore, when the trailers first began for this latest installment started showing up, I was enthusiastic. In fact, I almost felt the need to remind everyone of the trilogy curse that occurs in bad movies. The one where you will regret spending any amount of money on the film, even a rental price a few months down the road. This time around though there are several reasons to go see the film. Maybe even want to watch the first two again to feel the rush of a new age zombie movie. By new age, I mean just a new way to tell a good zombie flick.
Extinction starts with a familiar scene to fans of the films. The lead character Alice (Jovovich) wakes in the shower and treads through the mansion of the first film, and then…….no, I won't spoil it for you. However, from this point the loose plot is begun. The world has ended, overran with the undead and only a few survivors. Instead of falling into the cliché of films set in a post-apocalyptic world, Extinction shows both the heroic and villainous that rests inside all of humanity. At first, this wasn't easily swallowed, mainly due the fact that this is a zombie film, but after a few balances between the convoy inhabitants and the cold rooms of the Umbrella Corporation, it was easier to accept. A lot of that balancing had to do with the portrayal of the characters.
With a few characters returning from the previous film, it was easier to have a link already from the beginning. Also, as in the sequel, an attempt was made to bring in characters from the video game franchise. I say attempt because the idea that Ali Larter could meet the expectations for Claire Redfield were greatly over-exaggerated. Most of the time it felt like she was trying to be Jill or Rebecca, but never quite Claire. Even though she didn't exactly nail Claire, it is at least forgivable. However, the portrayal of Albert Wesker was horrid. Instead of having him be the total thorn in everyone's side, he was reduced to a pompous chairman of the board that refuses to take off his 80s styled shades. Personally, Wesker needed to be saved until they decided to bring Chris Redfield into the films. At least this time around the main villain for Alice to square off with wasn't a poorly CGIed Licker or a rubber laden degenerate Nemesis. No, this time it is well done CGIed SFX compilation. I won't spill on who the creature is because it's nice to see them get it in the end.
One particular scene I know film enthusiasts will call foul on will involve the thousands of birds. The makeup on the birds was simplistic in nature, but it was the eyes that will make you smile at the zombified crows. It will also rekindle any fear of birds that occurred from the original Hitchcock film, The Birds. While on the subject of the make-up effects, the zombies this time are not shadowed by shoddy camera work, but miss the imagination mark from the first film. Having said this, it is wonderful to see some of the aggressive nature of the zombies mixed with the traditional "must walk two inches an hour" cliché; good times.
Aside from a few somewhat depressing factors for fans, the movie does hold together inside the universe they have created for themselves. The first movie had the pacing and storytelling that we wanted without the action we needed. Apocalypse had a little of the action we needed, but shot its head off with the lack of story or character development. Extinction delivers on both sides, creating an excellent cocktail of brain splattering headshots. If you are looking for that Resident Evil movie based on the video game, you will have to wait a little while longer. On the other hand, if you are looking for a comfortable romp of zombie goodness, Resident Evil: Extinction delivers more than its predecessors did.
CCC Project Coordinator
Movie Score: 2.5 out of 4 Stars