I’ve come to grips with the fact that we may never be able to have an almost accurate and horrifying zombie film stemming from “Resident Evil,” but perhaps someday someone will reboot the franchise and actually create some great zombie flicks. In case you didn’t know it, “Extinction” recaps the entire three films, including the story of Umbrella ad nauseum, and yes, there’s nothing like a warmed over sense of tension and suspense. From the first five minutes, it’s pretty obvious this has no idea what it wants to be, but truly, it’s just another episode in an ongoing franchise, regardless of the pretense it sets up that it’s the final film in the series. It’s not.
“Extinction” takes off from the horrible “Apocalypse” and the mediocre first film developing itself in the vein of “Mad Max” meets “House of the Dead.” And that’s not a good combination by any means. “Extinction” is barely a horror film, at all. It’s another cheesy take off of Ripley from “Aliens” with Jovovich filling in for Weaver as the uber-heroine in a world that looks like “Day of the Dead” lite. “Extinction” doesn’t stop borrowing from better movies, oh no. Why stop where Paul WS Anderson started? Yes, there’s even a Sarlacc Pit scene with Alice being dropped into a pit by a bunch of goons who watch her fight zombie dogs for their amusement. Most offensive is that the writers are purporting to subconsciously suggest this is their “Return of the Jedi” of the trilogy. Don’t get ahead of yourselves.
This is not even “The Phantom Menace.” But of course the Umbrella corporation hopes to find a way to domesticate the zombies (Day of the Dead) even drawing many conclusions about the walking dead that many fans have known for decades since Romero laid down the groundwork, and in spite of the apocalyptic setting, we’re still able to view a meeting of the Umbrella council in suits, well made up attire, and shaded offices, to boot. Which also goes to say that they also resemble eighties pop stars, always wearing shades in the darkness of the offices for no apparent reason. Mulcahey’s installment has a lot of things going for it.
It’s visually appealing, has some great ideas, and broadly touches on some potentially interesting characters, but it just cashes all of it in in exchange for more fluff and mediocre horror mayhem. In its essence it’s really nothing but an action adventure with some zombies thrown in to please the fan base, and “Extinction” tries vainly to pretend otherwise. But when we’re exposed to nothing but terrible shorthand dialogue, awful performances (I’m looking at you Ali Larter), and ideas that are approached and suddenly forgotten, you never get the sense that you’re watching a horror movie at all, let alone a “Resident Evil” movie. Characters are killed off, sub-plots are shortly developed and then suddenly extinguished, and every scene feels like a pastiche of concepts and nothing more.
Milla Jovovich is the exact same person we saw in “Ultraviolet” and “Fifth Dimension,” a mumbling, brooding, and smooth warrior who has a vendetta and will not stop, all the while the writers add abilities to her whenever it’s convenient making her a walking dues ex machina. First she’s Ripley, then she’s Sheena, then she’s Jean Grey, and then The Terminator. She can jump high ledges, flip, spin, knows how to handle every weapon she gets a hold of, and also can operate machinery she has no prior knowledge of all the while failing to answer one question I’ve been wondering. Is she just a clone of a clone of a clone of a clone, or a clone of an actual woman?
If so what happened to her? It’s all really just one big drab affair that I was able to endure, but would never watch again. Try as they might to deny it, “Extinction” is just another installment or episode, if you will, in a franchise that really was meant for better things. Uber-Ripley has a trillion powers, Jovovich treads over the same material, Ali Larter abuses with her horrible performance, the horror genre is further pushed away from the franchise, and though the visuals rock, the third film is basically a warmed over “Mad Max” clone that rips from as many movies as possible, and fails to even do that right.