Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Resident Evil: Extinction review (click to see it bigger)!Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Oded Fehr and Mike Epps

Directed by Russell Mulcahy

Welcome to the Naked Milla hour with your host…NAKED MILLA! Really, who doesn’t enjoy a naked Milla? This episode of Naked Milla includes such wonderful moments as Naked Milla on the floor in the shower, Naked Milla floating in an energy bubble, Naked…umm…Hey guys. Where’s the rest of the Naked Milla? What do you mean that’s it?! Did I do something to piss you off? Why do we deserve this?? NOOOOOO!!!

Just to get this out of the way, you get two different naked Millas with this film; hold the nipples. I know. I was shocked too.

It’s only a few short years after the “incident” at Raccoon City. The T Virus has laid boney Reaper-like hands on the world, not only transforming humans and animals alike into bloodthirsty zombies, but killing all vegetation and drying up the oceans of the Earth. Guess it was thirsty. Now, the few survivors trek across the desolate wasteland, never stopping for long lest the undead catch a whiff of their scent and converge in ungodly numbers.

Meanwhile, the happy workers of the Umbrella Corporation conduct experiments miles below our scorched planet, a fact you are reminded of at least 6 times through computer schematics of the compound, which arise nearly every time we visit the kindly executive class folks. These white-coated elite spend their days making clones of their favorite subject, Alice (our little Milla), and running her through a simulation of her old digs from the first Resident Evil, now stocked with deadly pitfalls around every corner. Why? No one ever tells us. It’s like the bloodiest game of Mouse Trap EVER. At the same time, head scientist Dr. Isaacs is trying to synthesize a sort of cure for the zombie plague using Alice’s blood. Unfortunately, all they have to work with are the Alice clones, whose blood turns normal zombies into bumpy faced, roid-raging super zombies.

Resident Evil: Extinction review (click to see it bigger)Now, Alice strides across the desert with Jean Grey (X-Men’s Phoenix for the non-geeky)- like powers, wire fighting her way to some semblance of salvation. It’s a race against time as the Umbrella Corporation moves in on Alice and the few survivors of Racoon City who are unfortunate enough to run across her. Their one hope is Alaska, where zombies turn into zombie-cicles before they can spread infection and thus, life is beautiful and there are fishery jobs aplenty.

For those of you that are going to get your dose of Milla no matter what I say, I’ll sum up this film in one sentence; More of the same, but better and bigger.

The setting is now a wasteland with landmarks spotting the horizon to remind you that this used to be home, so all the spectacle is left to the actors and the creeps they battle. The emphasis is taken off of zombie shock, as this world is now covered in them, and beyond showing oceans of the decomposing suckers, you get the point. From the new trailers you can see we finally get some zombie bird action, a scene pulled off beautifully and very realistically to my surprise. The feathered fiends swarm and writhe in the air like a pack of bees, spiraling upward before they freefall down toward their fleshy feast. The effect is tense and gruesome without showing birds pulling eyeballs out of sockets.

The previously mentioned bumpy headed super zombies are another new addition, adding a psychotically paced and brutally bloody action sequence to an already engaging film. This relentless mini-army pops up out of nowhere and cuts a swath through our heroes with a ferocity even kung-fu action Alice can’t cope with alone. Alas, there is only one more monster in this film, revealed in the climax to do battle with Alice, one on one. No lickers, no giant spiders and no gargantuan frog creatures to be found. Damn shame.

Resident Evil: Extinction review (click to see it bigger)Milla is up for the task this go around, displaying her usual range of vulnerable hero to scarred, vengeful woman. It’s believable, while her lighting is something of a fantasy. Milla is practically CGI’d into her close-ups with a mix of soft focus and photo shop smudge tool used liberally. It’s little things like this that rip me from the reality of a scene.

Ali Larter plays Claire Redfield, leader of the caravan and not much else. Ali isn’t given a great deal to do in a film whose focus is pinned on Milla, leaving her and the rest of her cast left to run along side her. There is one exception to this rule: comic relief! Mike Epps plays L.J., your bumbling, wise cracking everyman turned soldier. Get into a scene with him and you’ve got your screen time, as Ashanti found out. Epps does far more with the role than anyone could have, to his credit, while Ashanti is left playing a part they would usually give to the voluptuous girlfriend of a producer who gets topless when the wind blows the right way.

Rounding out our heroes is Oded Fehr as Carlos, another survivor of the last Resident Evil fiasco. Fehr is given a little more meat to chew on than the rest, playing a sort of love interest to Alice and confidant to Claire. Unfortunately, with little to no character development for Carlos (or any of the caravan crew for that matter save a teenager laughingly named K-Mart), we are left with zero empathy. Heroes with guns blazing or extra lean meat to be picked from the teeth of roadside ghouls; it makes no difference. When we don’t know anything about a character, we don’t feel anything when they get offed!

Resident Evil: Extinction review (click to see it bigger)Finally we have Iain Glen reprising his roll as the evil gene splicing Dr. Isaacs. A friend described him as having more facial muscles than a normal human being, allowing him to convey 100 more facial expressions than man was meant to. In RE: Extinction, all of them are reserved for self-satisfied smirks, contemplative glares and angry beams of defiance. Isaacs is your complete bad guy in a box. We are given little reason from most of his actions while the character himself seems to glare from the screen chortling, “I don’t need to explain myself. Just enjoy the beauty of me.”

Resident Evil: Extinction is an odd duck that left me questioning if I even enjoyed myself or not. While Alice’s use of super hero powers is a damn cool effect, it doesn’t happen often, leaving her compatriots to die gruesome deaths. It seems like another case of flawed story telling where plot holes are left so huge and cavernous; it would take 5 days to walk around them. This installment doesn’t do much to further the story we’ve been following for years now and falls far from capturing the uneasy tone generally laid down by the RE video games. With a backdrop of only the sky, we abandon the claustrophobic feelings we usually enjoy in a Raccoon City over run with the walking dead. At the same, we’ve seen way worse. Extinction pulls off an impressive number of effective jump scares. If you can’t creep the audience out, may as well make them scream when you can!

With almost non-stop action, above average effects and just enough bloodshed to calm your inner horror freak, it can be said that Resident Evil: Extinction, at the very least, dropkicks Apocalypse upside the head. This may not be the Resident Evil we’ve all been dreaming about but, hey…we’ll always have naked Milla.

3 out of 5

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Jon Condit