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Review

Latest installment of ‘Resident Evil’ falls short of hype

September 28, 2007

Back in 2002, Screen Gems made nerd history by releasing “Resident Evil,” a surprisingly decent movie based off of a hugely popular video game franchise. Two years later, they followed up with a sequel that defied the norm and was actually good. The cellulose “Evil” should have stopped there, but Hollywood’s new found obsession with trilogies was too powerful and “Resident Evil: Extinction” was born.

Picking up years after the events of “Resident Evil: Apocalypse,” “Extinction” begins some time after the deadly T-Virus has swept across the entire planet, killing virtually all life and turning the continents into enormous barren deserts.

The story follows a group of scraggly survivors and genetically enhanced superhuman Alice (Milla Jovovich) as they roam the wastelands just trying to survive. As chance would have it, the band stumbles across a diary promising a new, virus-free existence in Alaska.

The catch is that the convoy must first stop in Las Vegas, swarming with zombies, to resupply. As if this wasn’t bad enough, a crazed doctor searching for a treatment to domesticate the zombies must harvest Alice’s blood to finish his research.

“Resident Evil” began as a horror movie and did a decent job at that. The sequel, “Apocalypse,” kept in tact some of that horror but focused more intensely on action and found success. “Extinction” doesn’t know which it wants to be and, therefore, stumbles between hokey suspense sequences and over-the-top action brawls.

What little horror is actually present is nothing more than lame shock treatment as zombies expectedly pop up out of nowhere.

The action, however, is extremely fun and fast-paced, keeping intact all the gory glory of the video games. But that frantic and crowd-pleasing action only comes twice in 90 minutes. More like window-dressing than substance, “Extinction” shies away from the one aspect that could really save it.

Where the film should have been focusing more on delivering thrills, it instead bogs down by trying to present seriously a laughable story line about domesticating zombies into workers.

The mere idea seems ludicrous, but what is worse is that what little story is present is peppered with holes, as if buckshot was fired at the final product.

“Extinction” struggles to find its own identity, taking pages almost directly out of “The Birds,” “Army of Darkness” and “Waterworld” before abandoning its story line altogether and going on a killing spree, both of characters and of plot.

As the films cast point guns on screen, they act and deliver dialogue as if the director, Russell Mulcahy, was pointing a gun at them. There is no emotion in the rag-tag band of survivors, even as bloodthirsty monsters are tearing at them, or into them.

“Resident Evil: Extinction” stands as a movie that should not have been made. It is a pure excuse to capitalize on the success of a franchise. Ed Wood and Uwe Boll stand proud; this is pure exploitation cinema spawned to be the bastard child of a cookie cutter film industry rife with mediocrity and cliché.