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Monday, April 28, 2008

Movie Review: Resident Evil Extinction

Having never been a fan of the game franchise (I think they're rather stupid myself, but that's because I like FPS games instead), I have always loved the film adaptations. Why? Because I love zombie movies, even ones like 28 Days Later where the "zombies" aren't really zombies (and actually all those Romero incarnations aren't truly zombie movies either--look it up...try Haiti). Regardless of what you might think about the games, the first Resident Evil flick was darn good. It managed to terrify the crap out of us with those zombie dogs and the truly frightening zombified people. We were able to forgive the makers for the poor CGI too, since those weird mutation things were sort of bad, but didn't take up the screen much.
Then came Resident Evil 2 and those of us who liked the first movie were screaming "yes", right up until we saw and we were screaming "no". It seems that awesome cliff-hanger ending in the first film was turned into another relatively interesting idea that came off campy and, well, just bad. Let's face it, a bad Russian accent is a movie killer almost instantly, not to mention forced dialogue.
Now, we have Resident Evil Extinction, which takes off from the second film, but moves ahead years, rather than a few days or hours. This proves somewhat beneficial and somewhat confusing. At least we have hope that the movie will pull us away from all that was bad about the first one.
Well, it does and it doesn't. Yes, it gives us a whole new experience: the Earth has been decimated by the infection, which wasn't contained after all and spread everywhere. Humans are, well, not extinct, which puts some considerable strain on the title--doesn't it?--but struggling to survive in caravans of sorts (old buses, gas-guzzling SUVS, and the like). What happened to Alice? That's just it, you don't really know. She's alone when we first see her again, and about halfway through the movie we find out she left the group because she was being traced by Umbrella and didn't want to cause them any harm, which would have been nice if such a thing were shown to us so we understand, to some extent, why Alice is running on her own in a world overrun with zombies (couldn't they show a task force try to acquire her and she just kills them off?). Super powers show up too, since Alive is some sort of freak accident/experiment and she can make things explode and what not.
Okay, so I've laid out the story and I'll leave how I feel about the movie to the breakdown. There is good and bad to this film, so let's see how it pans out:

Direction 3/5
I don't know how to say it. The direction isn't great. It's not horrible, but not great. The problem? This movie still falls prey to what killed the first one: some really badly executed lines from actors who are rather competent that should have been redone a few times to get them right. The good news? At least they're not as horribly frequent as in the second flick, which would have received a 1 or 2 from me.
Basically, there's a minor improvement here, but it's nothing like in the first film, which was, for the most part, rather solid. If you're going to mess up a good movie franchise you can't do it with bad directing. Look at The Matrix! The movies were, well, adequately directed from start to finish. It's the writing that killed The Matrix, not the acting or the direction. So, there's an improvement, but there are still some forced lines from actors that are better, and could be shown to be so if they were told to redo some scenes. At least it's not as bad as the whatever it is that fake Russian guy said to the mutant dog that was about to kill him. "I've got this b***h" I think...

Cast 3/5
Well, I can say that there probably isn't anyone else I would choose to play Alice. I think Jovovich is a strong choice. She has that slightly childlike quality to her that makes her perfect for the character that really doesn't understand why all this crap is happening to her, and to some extent doesn't understand why she's suddenly become a super hero/total bad ass.
Some of the other actors are probably good fits, but I think there needed to be some serious work paid attention to dialogue for a lot of them. Comic relief is fine, but you have to be careful for a movie as serious as this one not to be too comedic, because then it just gets ridiculous. These films deal with very serious, and pertinent issues and when you take something like that and try to put funny smelling cheese on top, it just doesn't work.
Still, I think issues with acting have a lot more to do with the writing and direction than the actors themselves as I have seen a lot of these actors in other works before and they are good actors (not great or anything, but not crap). Hence why I give it a 3. The good news is that almost all of the really annoying people are gone (either because they are dead or nobody gave them another contract...dead as in the characters are dead, not the people themselves).

Adaptation N/A
I only played the game a couple times and am not really qualified to make a judgment here.

Writing 3/5
The writing is good and bad at the same time. First the good:
They've taken the original story and really drawn it out into something far more sinister than it was before. Alice is a super mutant of sorts and Dr. Isaacs, who was in the end of the second movie, is doing even worse things than before. We also have a dying world due to the infection. Thankfully, too, the plot movies at a good pace. You're not really bored throughout, which goes to show that at least the writers knew how to draw out a good action flick.
The bad:
It's not really explained with any logic

Visuals 3/5
Okay, so everything actually starts off pretty darn good. Anything that is shown to us that is CG looks real, or realistic enough for us to let it go. But all falls apart towards the end. Mr. Evil Scientist (also known as Dr. Isaacs) suddenly begins sprouting tentacle things from his arm/hand after being exposed to the T virus via a bite from a genetically augmented zombie (derived from the blood of Alice no less) and decides to inject himself with a health, err, unhealthy dose of the anti-virus. As they say, a good breakfast starts with an injection of a biovirus that turns innocent folks into witless zombies.
Other than this brief lapse of judgment, the visuals are fine. They get the job done, but it really upset me that through all of this we have really good visuals and one little instance just screws it all up. Not good at all folks. It seems almost as if they ran out of time and decided to throw out a crappy product.

Overall 3/5
It's a little above average I suppose. This one isn't a keeper like the first film, which I still have actually. It just isn't strong enough to get much more than 3. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Alice becomes this super thing beyond her ability to beat the crap out of everyone. They try to limit her, but it doesn't really work because she can make your head explode. Sure, when she faces the mutated Dr. Isaacs he gives her a run for her money, but the result is that the final bad guy is just a tad too easy. It's not much more glamorous than the other battles throughout the movie, which is unfortunate because it is really played off like this is the huge climax of the series (well, sort of, since the movie ends with her proclaiming that she is going to wage war against the guy in the dark glasses). Still, the action is a lot of fun to watch and often times suspenseful, since we're dealing with zombies. This isn't the best in the series, but certainly takes a solid second behind the first film.

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  1. You know, I have never watched this series. I've watched part of the first one, and it wasn't awful. Like you said, about a 3 out of 5. You actually make me want to go back and watch it.

  2. Btw, there's no reason you can't enter my book contests. The books I send you are for review. Giveaways don't have any strings.

  3. I always figured it was unethical for me to enter the contests since I do reviews. That's why I never enter. Is it unethical? Maybe I should pose that question tomorrow for my blog...

    As for the series: give the first one a shot again. It's definitely the best of the series because it happens to fit better I think. The second one had such potential, but it was killed by poor acting (really really bad acting...which was likely due to bad directing). The third one is good, but doesn't really win like the first one, I think.

  4. You know, the firs movie scared the hell out of me and the scene with the zombie dogs was so damn cool. Anyways like you said this is better than the second and what kept me liking this film almost as much as the first is the telekinesis like with the flock of raven's scene. And yeah the mutant freak ending killed it for me too. I hate tentacles.