Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Resident Evil Extinction

The verdict: Surprisingly entertaining zombie romp. Sit back, turn down your brain activity, and enjoy.

The rating: 6/10

Yep, that's right, six out of ten. What am I talking about, Willis? Well, as B-movies go, this one's a cracker. It might have hammy acting, cheesy bad guys and the misfortune to be based on a video game, but this movie has something in its favour: it's bags of fun! Paul Anderson, the man behind the scripts for 'Event Horizon' and 'Alien versus Predator', has taken this franchise - itself on the verge of extinction after the second sub-par episode - and somehow managed to make it anarchic, interesting, and most importantly, thoroughly enjoyable.

The opening sequence quickly and succinctly reminds us of the qualities that made the game so involving: claustrophobia, mystery, and an equal mixture of fear and curiosity in relation to what's behind that next door. However, the opening also has some surprises to offer, nodding to the previous two movies, but giving a clue that in this episode, things are going to be veeery different.

For the uninitiated, Resident Evil is the story of the dastardly Umbrella corporation, who carried out all sorts of experiments on unwitting subjects with something called the T-Virus. Now, this virus had the unfortunate effect of turning people into the flesh-eating zombie undead, and in the first movie, the t-virus spread throughout a small town named Raccoon City - also the location for the original game.

When this movie starts, however, the T-virus has become a global pandemic, practically wiping out every living thing: human, animal and plant life to boot... Only a handful of survivors remain on the desertified planet, scavenging what resources they can to survive. Our central character Alice (Milla Jovovich) is a survivor of Umbrella experiments, and has retained some interesting side-effects...

Immediately after the enclosed surroundings of the opening sequence, things go a bit bananas, and we're suddenly transported into an 'Evil Dead meets Mad Max' scenario: a convoy of survivors (including one or two from the first two movies) are struggling to stay alive, hunting for gasoline, food, and safe shelter from the annoyingly persistent chase of the hungry undead.

Meanwhile, back at the Umbrella HQ, the dastardly Dr. Isaacs continues the wicked experiments, as the coprorations' resources dwindle, and his employers exert more and more pressure to find the cure for the T-Virus... Isaacs believes the key to finding the cure is in Alice's blood, he just needs to find her..

Ok, I get it, you either like this type of movie or you don't, but compared to something like 'Transformers' or '28 Weeks Later', for me this was much, much more rewarding. The script is neither pretentious nor self-conscious, and doesn't cop out by trying to be post-modern or ironic. Instead, Paul Anderson delivers a punchy, pacy flick with a relentless sequence of action-packed set-pieces that - for the most part - forego building tension and just get stuck into the good stuff. The climax is satisfying, and even leaves an appetising cliffhanger, leaving the door wide open for an equally anarchic fourth instalment.

It's thoroughly flawed, more than a bit mixed up, and suffers a little from an identity crisis: (is it a zombie western!?) but this shouldn't deter you from enjoying it, as it's simply great fun. For a low maintenance Dvd night in, 'Resident Evil Extinction' comes recommended from me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. This was miiiindless fun. I got a kick out of it too.

It's about time Mulcahy did something action oriented (he directed the first two Highlander films) after all of that TV work and whatever.


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