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Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 1/1/2008

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/27/2007

In my recent review for Rob Zombie's Halloween, I wrote about the difficulty in remaining truly objective when discussing a movie which is related to something near and dear. I run into the same problem with the Resident Evil films. You see, I'm a huge fan of the Resident Evil video games, and I would love to see a movie which is actually based on the stories in the games. Thus, I have a very hard time with the Resident Evil movies, which are barely related to the games. The trailers for Resident Evil: Extinction made the film look as if it had even less to do with the video games than the first two movie, so I tried to approach it with an open mind. Unfortunately, my open mind was able to absorb just how bad this movie is.

Resident Evil: Extinction is set several years after the events of Resident Evil: Apocalypse. A voice-over narration informs us that virus epidemic which began in Raccoon City spread throughout the world, infecting millions, turning them into violent zombies. This somehow also caused bodies of water to dry up, so now the Earth is covered in deserts. Alice (Milla Jovovich), who had battled the undead and the soldiers of the evil Umbrella Corporation in the first two films, now wanders the deserts on her motorcycle, still searching for answers to her cloudy past. She soon joins forces with a convoy of survivors led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), whom Alice had worked with in the second movie. Claire's group has been scouring the desert searching for supplies and other survivors, but they have exhausted their reserves. Alice has found a notebook which claims that Alaska is safe and some member of Claire's group agree that the trip sounds worthwhile. They travel to what was formerly Las Vegas seeking supplies.

Meanwhile, Umbrella scientist Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) has been working with clones of Alice attempting to replicate her blood, which may hold the key to reversing the effects of the virus. His experiments have resulted in the creation of a "super zombie" which is more powerful than most of the undead. Isaacs feels that he needs the real Alice in order to perfect his work and when he learns of her whereabouts, he hatches a plan to capture her.

Before I go off on my rant about how the Resident Evil films can't compete with the quality of the games (and you know it's coming), I'll attempt to objectively look at this film. Apparently, writer/producer Paul W.S. Anderson (who directed the first film in the series) decided that it would be a good idea to combine the world of the RE films with The Road Warrior, and that's essentially what Resident Evil: Extinction is. 95% of the film takes place in the desolate desert world which inhabits the film and this distinguishes the movie from the first two in the series. However, the movie does very little to separate itself from either post-apocalyptic films, such as The Road Warrior. In fact, the fact that Claire's group searches for gas and that their convoy contains a tanker-truck feels like more than a homage to George Miller's 1981 classic. (If you get my meaning.)

All that this does is prove that zombies in the desert can be just as boring and trite as zombies in the city as far as this series is concerned. Veteran director and music video pioneer Russell Mulcahy has done a good job with keeping the pacing tight on the film and things move along at a nice pace, but the film's story simply doesn't add up to much. Aside from some nicely-time jump scares, there isn't enough happening here to fully hold the viewer's attention. The new characters get very little introduction (Claire Redfield is a character from the video games, but we learn nothing of her background, so we don't know if she shares the same life with her computerized twin) and the movie never expounds on the "the whole world is dying" idea. (A virus caused the rivers to run dry? How does that work?) What we are left with are scenes of people driving through the desert mixed with scenes of people fighting with vicious birds or the unruly undead. In short, there's nothing here that you haven't seen before.

What we haven't seen is a movie which actually follows the storylines from the games. (I told you that it was coming.) Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, and Resident Evil: Code Veronica each have complete storylines which could easily be adapted into movies. I'll never understand why the powers that be allowed Paul W.S. Anderson (a director I once respected) to create what is essentially completely new universe and simply plug in elements from the games here and there. If these films weren't called Resident Evil, they'd still stink, but at least they'd stink on their own. Instead, we have a series of movies which aren't satisfying in and of themselves and which should be a disappointment to anyone who calls themselves a fan of the Resident Evil games.

Resident Evil: Extinction shuffles onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks very good, as the pictures is sharp and clear. If grain is going to pop up in a film, it's most likely going to be in bright, daytime scenes. Most of this movie takes place in the desert and there is only the slightest amount of grain to be had here. These deserts landscapes show a nice depth to the image. But, this also means that the dominant color palettes are browns and beiges. Still, the colors are fine and flesh tones look good. Some shots lack in detail and I noted some video noise at times, but otherwise the transfer is solid. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As with many action films, this movie has a nice sound design which plays nicely on this transfer. The stereo effects are good, but it's the surround sound and subwoofer effects which really stand out. Every gunshot and bone-crunch comes through loud and clear, making the film at least sound as if it were exciting.

The Resident Evil: Extinction DVD has a few extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY featuring director Russell Mulcahy, writer/producer Paul W.S. Anderson, and producer Jeremy Bolt. This is a fairly standard talk as the trio discuss the motivations behind the story of the film and give background on the shooting locations. Anderson does pepper the commentary with questionable quotes, such as "The films and the games occupy slightly separate worlds." and "These are very scary movies." The DVD contains 11 DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. Most of these are simply very brief dialogue scenes. The only interesting one shows how Dr. Isaacs gets his test subjects. "Beyond Raccoon City: Unearthing Resident Evil: Extinction" is divided into four sections; "Alice Vision/Pre-production", "The Big Bang/Shooting RE:E", "Bigger, Faster, Stronger/The Undead Evolve", and "Vegas Visual Effects/Miniatures" with the entire thing running 31 minutes. The piece opens with a discussion amongst the filmmakers about their vision for the third film and how they wanted to go in a direction which differed from the first two movies. (Anderson claims that Resident Evil was the first zombie movie in "like 15 years". Really? I know thousands of horror fans who would disagree with that.) We then get an in-depth look at the harsh conditions of the desert shooting locations. There's also an overview of the film's production design. The actors then give their views on the action scenes. Next is a look at the creation and design of the zombie effects. The final section shows how miniatures were used to create a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. The final extra is a very brief trailer for the CG movie Resident Evil: Degeneration, which appears to actually be related to the games. First in line!

Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long