This weekend is a great weekend for movies. All kinds of Oscar possibilities unleashed themselves upon audiences (at least in the Seattle area), including The Hunting Party, Across the Universe, Eastern Promises and In the Valley of Elah... So why in hell did I go and watch Resident Evil: Extinction?
I'll admit I was looking forward to this second sequel to the popular Resident Evil franchise. Neither the first or second films were particularly great, but they had enough action and mayhem to be entertaining enough. The third had promise: it returns Milla Jovovich to the role of Alice, who has now taken to wandering the ravaged Earth alone. The Earth is now a desert wasteland, not unlike in Mad Max, but amidst the walking dead, the Umbrella Corporation is still searching for Alice with hopes that her blood could cure the world. It's a neat concept, and I liked the direction the film had taken, but...
Resident Evil: Extinction is one of the worst movies of the year.
The movie is a disaster. It's not that the film doesn't feature a fair amount of gore or action or Jovovich in appealing outfits, but it's that writer Paul W.S. Anderson (who wrote the previous two films and the absolutely terrible Alien vs. Predator) and director Russell Mulcahy have absolutely no clue. The dialogue is downright terrible, the horror sequences utterly predictable, and the entire movie a loud mess. I was sitting in a theater full of nerds who undoubtedly are Resident Evil fans, and they were snickering at how cheesy the script was. Anderson sucks and there's no way of getting around that, but it appears as though he even intentionally tried to make his characters as lame as possible.
It's not just the script. The special effects, makeup and zombies are all second rate; in an age where more zombie films are good than bad, Resident Evil: Extinction looks like a crippled cousin. The computer graphics are embarrassing at times, and Mulcahy chose the oddest places to invest what appears to be a pretty low budget (though I'm sure the budget is anything but). Three or four times Mulcahy shows us a computerized blueprint of the underground Umbrella company in what is a pointless and superfluous show of special effects, and it here where we see the movie has its priorities all wrong. Instead of being a gritty, dark and claustrophobic zombie film, the movie is a flashy, loud and obnoxious video game adaptation.
On top of all that, the makeup in the film is just terrible. The main villain looks like he's made out of paper maché (when he's not made out of 1980's special effects), and is about as intimidating as a flesh-eating crow. The zombies look like something more out of the original Dawn of the Dead rather than something created in the 21st century. How can you fear something that looks so goofy?
If you're looking for scares, look elsewhere. There are a few jolts, but they are about as predictable and manufactured as you can get. Mulcahy cranks up the volume to airplane decibel levels to scare his audience, and nearly half the frights come from broken electrical cords zapping randomly.
To cap things off, Resident Evil: Extinction ends abruptly, as if Anderson and Mulcahy didn't know how to end the flick. Just when you're expecting a big fight scene, the main bad guy is killed off, Jovovich delivers a one-liner and then, essentially, the credits roll.
Had Resident Evil: Extinction taken itself truly seriously and had a little more fun with its zombie hordes, the movie could have been something. But with Anderson writing the film and poor visual effects/makeup design, the movie is laughably bad. While I'm sure it's not the last in the franchise, I sure as hell wish it were.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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