Shiny Shelf


Resident Evil: Extinction DVD

By Mark Clapham on 02 March 2008

My attitude to the whole multimedia franchise of that has grown around Capcom’s ‘Resident Evil’ game series can be summed up by the following salient fact – I keep all my ‘Resident Evil’ games in a metal Umbrella Corporation biohazard carrying case. A box which I imported from Japan. Yes, that sad. While I’m far from being the biggest ‘Resi’ fanboy in the world (I can’t beat entire games using only the knife, neither can I name all the members of STARS without googling), it’s probably safe to say I’m a bit beyond a casual viewer when it comes to ‘Extinction’.

So, third film, and where are we. The first ‘RE’ movie was a mediocre scare-free prequel which was never actually embarassing, while the second was a more enjoyable but fantastically daft runthrough the plots of game number three, ‘Nemesis’. This third movie takes the outbreak plotline of the games and scoots ahead to a post-apocalyptic near future. As such, it doesn’t quite have the fanboy glow that came from the previous film’s more game-inspired storyline. However, it is actually quite good.

A lot of this comes from director Russell Mulcahy, of ‘Highlander’ fame, who brings a new level of professionalism and competence to proceedings. The jumps are scary, the action set-pieces are exciting and the whole film is very nicely shot. After a few years working mainly in TV, Mulcahy seems to have really sunk his teeth into working on a mainstream movie, and brings a real energy to proceedings.

Unfortunately, he has some clunky material to work with. The script is by producer Paul WS Anderson, and has all the problems that entails, in that it has a perfectly OK central plot, no memorable dialogue of any kind, and the grafting of his own pet ideas on to whatever property he’s working on. With ‘Aliens vs Predator’ Anderson’s big idea was the Predators’ involvement in human history, while his main addition to ‘Resident Evil’ continuity is Alice, the lead heroine played by Milla Jovovich. While creating a movie-exclusive character as the lead for the film franchise is perfectly acceptable – especially considering the planks who constitute the lead characters of the games – the weight of mythology placed on Alice punches a hole through the entire point of the franchise. Umbrella, the zombies, the very fate of the world – all of it is mere distraction from the importance of Alice, the cloned/psychic/genetically engineered one-woman war-machine. While Jovovich’s name and good looks are one of the main selling points of the movies, it would be nice if we were all given a break from Anderson’s obsession with his own character, and the actual ‘Resident Evil’ related elements were allowed a bit more screen time.

While the setting – post-apocalyptic Nevada – is unrelated to any game, the film does throw in some previously unused touchstones from the game series, including a highly effective attack by T-virus infected crows, and a final reel mutation of one of the characters into a morphing monstrosity. This last boss battle is, by live action movie standards, ridiculous, but is a heartening indication that Anderson et al haven’t entirely forgotten the source material for these films. There’s also a couple of characters from the games included, Carlos (Oded Fehr, back from ‘Apocalypse’) and Clare Redfield (Ali Larter, new to the films), but they’re so under-characterised as to be barely connected to their namesakes, especially when moved to the post-apocalyptic setting.

Oh, and there’s the first film appearance by fanboy favourite Albert Wesker, inexplicably portrayed here as a chubby Eminem. Wesker is a genuinely distinctive character in the games, but here he pales compared to Umbrella’s Chief Scientist Dr Isaacs (another returnee from ‘Apocalypse’). Admittedly, there’s an unfair advantage, as Isaacs is played by Iain Glen, most recently seen on TV in the excellent ‘City of Vice’. Glen is always very good value, and seems to have a lot of fun making Isaacs a genuinely creepy, obsessed and self-interested individual. His scenes are by far the most fun in the movie – he deserves to be in better movies, but he the movies he’s in would be poorer without him.

‘Resident Evil: Extinction’ is the slickest of these films so far, and is a pleasingly concise and snappily edited 90 minutes of attractive women, nasty monsters and big explosions, perfect for that point on a Friday evening when you want to sit back and watch something mindlessly entertaining that isn’t going to trouble your emotions or braincells. The DVD has some decent but unspectacular extras – a commentary, some featurettes which are mostly the usual electronic press pack hype, and a few interesting trailers, including the next ‘Resi’ game and a teaser for the CG straight-to-DVD movie ‘Resident Evil: Degeneration’.

More importantly, the initial run of the disk has a shiny cover, which will go very well when I add it to my shiny box of ‘Resident Evil’ junk. So at least I’m happy.


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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named markclapham.com.




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