Halloween Endurance Test: Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Of all the already frustrating Resident Evil films, Resident Evil: Extinction might be the most frustrating. On the one hand a new director, Russell Mulcahy, has been brought in, and script writer, and past director, Paul W.S. Anderson has finally accepted zombie-dom’s traditional conventions. Meaning mankind is on the wane, and zombies have and are decimating the Earth.
Unfortunately, with Paul W.S. Anderson still writing the story, we can only expect so much. Left with a heroine, Alice (Milla Jovovich), that’s way too powerful (she can explode brains with her mind at the end of Resident Evil: Apocalypse), Anderson decides the only option left is to clone her! So that the Earth can be overrun by zombies and psychic Alices.
(It’s worth noting that Anderson and Milla would marry in 2009; which might explain why his scripts go to such great lengths to glorify her. And feature her naked; as this one does in its opening shot! Which would seem to me to be a classic case of “coming on too strong,” but apparently it worked. He’s married to a Russian model/actress, and I write about crappy movies. Take your pick folks!)
RE: Extinction marries the Road Warrior’s post-apocalyptic aesthetic with George Romero’s Day of the Dead “Bub” subplot. In that film, a scientist was trying to rehabilitate/civilize a zombie “Bub.” (They manage to get him to wear headphones and fire a gun.)
Here, the Umbrella corporation is staking their, and our, survival on recreating Alice’s genetic structure. She, after all, became psychic after becoming infected, a useful trick any way you look at it. Failing that, they’re also prepared to unleash half-domesticated zombie soldiers as a futuristic answer to Tolkien’s Uruk-hai.
Umbrella’s zombies weren’t contained at the end of RE: Apocalypse, and the(ir) menace went global. Somehow turning the world into a giant, desolate desert. (Granted, I think it’s mentioned only for affect, but wouldn’t the human race dying off be beneficial to nature in the long run? Less trash, pesticides, clear-cutting? Unless the zombies start dining on greens once their food source becomes unreliable.) Our cast of characters split into three groups.
The antagonists: the Umbrella corporation, consisting of scientists and businessmen, exiled themselves underground and continued to experiment. (Including, but not limited to, the cloning of Alice). Alice, now supercharged, ventured off on her own, spending years riding around on a motorcycle while avoiding detection by Umbrella’s spy satellites. (That’s right, she fucking memorized their outer space flight patterns! And no one in the film acts as if that’s a big deal!) And all the other remnants from RE: Apocalypse show up too, to fill out the dialogue. Since none of them were developed in the last film, it seems kind of foolish to try to explain them here; as they all die. Their main contribution is how they all dress like extras from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
One thing that’s never really explained is why Alice, after spending years riding crazy zig-zag patterns across the US to avoid spy satellites, would then just decide to use her psychic powers will-nilly in the span of two days, and thus allow Umbrella to triangulate her location. Years of hard work down the drain just ’cause she wanted to vaporize some zombie crows with mind-flames.
Yes, you read that right, and it looks as horrible as it sounds. Just because CGI-technology says you can do something, does not mean you should.
Plot-wise, the movie revolves around three fight sequences. The first has a beaten-up, groped, and disarmed Alice fighting off a pack of zombie dogs. All by herself.
The second sequence, has already been mentioned, involving Alice, her own pack of friends, and a murder of zombie crows. When their conventional weaponry fails, Alice sets the sky on fire and burns everything up.
So it seems only natural that for the final sequence, against the zombie Uruk-hai, Alice only brings two kukri knives. Because, as the previous battles have shown us, she’s in no danger of dying. Hell, she was already infected with the zombie (T-) virus in RE: Apocalypse, and all it did to her was make her more powerful.
(Remember, these films aren’t so much the cinematization of a popular zombie video game, but an hour and a half love letter from Paul W.S. Anderson to Milla Jovovich.)
While the rest of the cast scurries around a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas, re-enacting every Battlefield server I ever saw my brother play on, Alice wanders around flaunting her invulnerability. Whereas the other actors have to shoot zombies in the head to kill them, she can just cut their throats. Or stab them in the stomach. How these wounds would kill a creature that’s already dead is beyond me, but the soundtrack indicates that we’re supposed to be pumped up and not thinking about the particulars of the last two films going right down the drain.
Needless to say, Alice wins. She then tracks the mad scientist back to his lab, where he’s quickly morphed into a half-man, half-octopus creature. (You have to love that Japanese influence!) Their final battle plays out like an Aphex Twin video; which both screaming sonic blasts at each other.
The lab also contains a billion cloned Alices who are released at the end. ‘Cuz what better way to conclude a film already capsized by the sheer power inequality of the main character than by cloning her a thousand-fold?
—More Resident Evil(s)—