A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 378 – Resident Evil: Extinction

Resident Evil: Extinction – March 13th, 2011

Yesterday while we were at the panel/meetup/screening for Loading Ready Run I got a chance to talk to Movie Bob and ask him his thoughts on the Resident Evil movies. I don’t quite agree with his preferences for the second over the first, but watching the third tonight, his comments make sense. Because, see, he told me I’d be watching Fallout tonight. And he was right. He was so very right. Not that I didn’t enjoy it! It’s just that it seems to have veered off in an entirely different direction than the games, going post-apocalyptic. And thus it is far closer to the Fallout games than to the Resident Evil games. Not a bad thing, just not, you know, Resident Evil. Which is still in the title. So. Yeah.

As I said to Andy when the movie was over, it was fun but it definitely went a little off the rails. I like the post-apocalyptic setting and there’s a good mood here, with all the deserted towns and Las Vegas buried in sand. The conceit is that the T Virus has spread throughout the world, not just destroying human life but many of the planet’s ecosystems as well. Deserts are widespread and only small handfuls of humans survive, keeping on the move some years after the outbreak. Sadly, since this is set a few years after the last movie, we have to get all that in a voiceover from Alice at the beginning. It’s not too bad, but I wish there’d been a way to do it without the voiceover. But I guess that’s what happens when you decide to skip this far ahead in the timeline.

When we pick up in the movie, Alice is riding through the desert on her own, killing zombies, avoiding packs of homicidal survivors, being generally bad ass. Two of the other survivors from the previous movie are riding with a convoy of armored buses and trucks. And Dr. Isaacs, the villain from the first movie, is creating clone after clone of Alice and running her through bizarre recreations of the beginning of the first movie for no good reason that I could discern. Seriously, he talks about needing her blood to make a serum that will allow for the ‘domestication’ of the zombies, but there’s no real explanation for why he needs to get said blood after having the Alice clones don the little red dress and try to escape through a mocked up hospital full of traps. Investigating memory and communication between the Alices, I assume? Sure, but it’s never really mentioned outright.

Most of the movie involves two plotlines: The convoy’s attempts to find gas and a safe haven and Dr. Isaacs’ attempts to use the zombies for his own purposes, despite the surviving members of Umbrella being opposed to his plans and demanding somewhat different aims. And well, as this is ostensibly a zombie survival movie, you probably know how it’s all going to go. Convoy will find somewhere useful, stop there, encounter Dr. Isaacs’ experimental zombies, shooting and blood will ensue.

And that’s pretty much how it goes except for two fairly large issues: One, the convoy plot ends well before the big climactic battle in the depths of the Umbrella installation in the desert. Andy mentioned at the time that the rest of the movie seemed kind of pointless unless you were invested in Alice. And personally, I think that the movie expects you to be invested in her by now. She’s the only character still with us after three movies and she’s got some personal shit to take care of with Umbrella, like the experiments they did on her and conditioning they’ve implanted. The convoy was really just something for her to do for an hour between the sections that deal with her and Umbrella. They’re an excuse for action and the action is indeed fun stuff. But really, unless you’re super excited to hear the name Claire Redfield (who is from the games) the convoy is just bait. The other issue is one I know Andy mentioned and it’s Alice herself. I’m all for a kick ass woman in a central role. Unfortunately, in order to keep Alice alive through all of the crap the movies put her through and the worse and worse stuff Umbrella throws her way, she’s been buffed to the point of ridiculousness. Never once did I feel like she was actually in danger. Not in the beginning and certainly not after her psychic abilities are fully fledged.

It’s frustrating, really, seeing Alice so overpowered. I really like her as a character and I’d love to see more background for her. More actual character and depth. But instead I get psychic super powers that make everything a non-issue for her. Zombie dogs? Sure! Three-tongued super zombie? No problem! Add all of that to the distinctly non-Resident Evil setting (seriously, it is Fallout without the gangs – there are raiders, ghouls and supermutants!) and it’s really only Resident Evil by dint of its place in the timeline of its predecessors. It’s not that I disliked the movie or didn’t enjoy it. I liked it fine and I enjoyed watching it. It’s just that it has some flaws and one of them takes away from the tension a survival horror movie should have and the other takes away from the mood and tone that the source material has and the first two movies kept hold of. It’s veering sharply and I’m not sure where it’s going to go.

March 13, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews

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