A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Resident Evil: Extinction

March 13, 2011

Resident Evil: Extinction

As we watched tonight Amanda and I traded jokes about the pop culture influences that this movie seems to heavily rely on. I’m not sure that it was deliberately modeled on any of them (except for some references to Alice down the rabbit hole) but just about everything in this film felt comfortably familiar. “It’s The Hills Have Eyes. Oh, it’s Mad Max. No, wait, now it’s Fallout: New Vegas. Or Dune. Aha! It’s The Birds. No, no, now it’s Battlestar Galactica.” It has hints of The Prestige. It’s even got the climactic psychic battle from Dark City (in an abbreviated form.) It’s all of these things and more. What it isn’t, really, is a Resident Evil movie. Strange, that.

This movie does follow on the continuity introduced in the first two films. It clearly takes place in the same world and has some of the same characters. It does not, however, have much to do anymore with the Resident Evil games. (Although it does introduce a couple character names that will be familiar to those who have played the games.)

The action picks up five years after Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Umbrella Corp has failed to contain the outbreak of the T-Virus by nuking Raccoon City and in the years following that disaster practically the entire human race has been wiped out. Not just the humans, either. The virus has killed off all kinds of plant and animal life, leaving the planet a dusty and dying husk. What living humans remain survive by staying constantly on the move so the billions of roving zombies cannot find them. Alice is travelling on her own through the wasteland. A couple of her companions from the last movie, L.J. and Carlos, have joined a convoy of souped up vehicles that are wandering the Nevada desert in search of other survivors. This convoy is run by Claire Redfield (a name from the games, although her character has nothing whatsoever to do with Claire in the games.) Meanwhile yet another crazy scientist at Umbrella is obsessed with using Alice’s blood to create a more easily controlled race of super zombies. (He’s been using all the resources Albert Wesker (another familiar name from the games) can provide him with to clone her in search of whatever magic her mutated blood is capable of.

Eventually Alice ends up travelling with the convoy, which endangers everybody when Dr. Isaacs unleashes what appears to be a never-ending horde of super zombies on them in an attempt to capture her. This is where the movie begins to break down for me. I can accept the whole post-apocalyptic thing. It’s kind of cool to see the world after every attempt to hold back the zombie tide has failed. But there are a couple threads of the plot here that are not very well explained and feel only half thought out.

There’s an entire plot about some random scribblings that Alice came upon when searching a gas station that indicate there may be survivors in some isolated part of Alaska that no zombies have reached. The survivors in Claire’s convoy decide to go there (mostly because it’s just nice to have something to hope for) and eventually leave Alice behind to pursue this dream. This plot thread is just left dangling. Perhaps it’s resolved in the sequel (which we don’t own yet) but as it currently lies they just sort of disappear from the movie right before the climax. Which leaves the movie robbed of most of its motivation since it had been about Alice helping these people survive right up until then. Once they leave Alice has no clear motivation and the movie lacks a lot of tension. (I was hoping eagerly for a stinger after the closing credits that showed them arriving at a zombie-infested town in Alaska or something, but there’s nothing there but a quote from Alice’s climactic fight scene.

Then there’s the issue of Alice’s psychic powers. I complained yesterday that I thought Alice was becoming too powerful a badass and that it hurt the feel of the movies. She’s become super-human, which robs the movies of much of their suspense. In this movie things go even farther. She’s now a Jedi warrior capable of destroying flocks of evil crows with her mind, levitating stuff in her camp site, and shorting out a satellite overhead from the surface of the Earth. I’m just not sure where the film makers are intending to take things here. By the end of this movie she is, essentially, a more unstoppable force than the billions-strong zombie horde that has populated the entire Earth. I halfway expect the fourth movie to end with her ascending to godhood and leaving to create worlds of her own Jon Osterman style.

I’m not sure about this entire movie. It’s entertaining enough, even if I felt it was pretty derivative of other works. It has a lot of incomprehensible weirdness though. (Like, why is Dr. Isaacs “testing” his Alice clones by sending them through highlights of the previous two movies?) It’s clearly morphed from survival/horror to some kind of weird post apocalyptic sci-fi. I think I like the concept more than the execution though. It’s all getting too out there for me. I miss the straight forward zombie escape tale of the first movie. I miss Alice being an essentially human character. I’ll probably watch the fourth movie some day because I still like to watch Milla Jovovich doing what she does, but I’ve kind of stopped caring about the franchise. I feel burned out.

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March 13, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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