zombie action post apoc video game
Trivia Directed by Russell Mulcahy, and thank Christ for that. He did Highlander you know.
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Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
7th Feb 08
Claire Redfield leads a convey in the post apocalypse and bumps into Alice who's still being chased by umbrella. And there's loads of zombies and cool action sequences because it's directed by the guy who directed Highlander.
By the time you get to the third movie in a franchise these days, you pretty much know what to expect. And that's usually just more of the same. With Saw III you got more traps, with Hostel Part 3 we're going to get more teens getting tortured to death, no surprises there at all. In fact, let's face it; there are usually very few surprises in sequels these days period.
But it wasn't always like that. The early eighties bought us some of the most unlikely third acts we're probably ever going to see. It started with that famous 'Part 3 in 3-D' phase that infected both the Jaws and Friday the 13th series, then there was Superman III getting a dose of Richard Pryor throughout, and last but not least we should never forget Halloween III, which dispensed with all the characters from the first couple of movies and came up with a totally new story altogether. It seems in them days you do anything with anything for your third picture and totally get away with it.
Resident Evil: Extinction isn't quite as wild as Halloween III, but it certainly does take the franchise in a bold and exciting direction, and it’s a new direction that, while not particularly original, is enough of a departure to raise a few eyebrows amongst the critics and fans alike.
But let’s first of all start by talking about the last two Resident Evil films. The first, dogged in controversy, was an okay Paul W S Anderson movie adaptation of the video game of the same name. It went through a huge amount of development hell, not least the wilderness years when George Romero was attached to the project, and the ongoing battle he had with the studio machine to get his vision of Resident Evil made, which we all had our fingers crossed for at the time due to the obvious nod to Dawn of the Dead that the original video game was in the first place. That was never to be (although I recall you can still download the Romero version of the script with a bit of furious googling) and up stepped the guy whose previous most high profile effort was the not bad at all Event Horizon. They introduced Alice, the genetically engineered Milla Jovovich in a sexy red dress and black boots combo, and a disposable special ops unit who are sent in to see what’s happened at the Umbrella research facility under Raccoon city. They also introduced a load of zombies in grey make-up, some bad CG monsters for good measure and some of the worst MTV action editing I’ve ever seen.
In fact, the only big budget flick I can think of with worse editing is Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Handing over the reigns to Alexander De Witt while Anderson was away ruining the Aliens Vs Predator franchise at the first hurdle, the second Resident Evil movie suffers from some serious pop corn cheese. Taking the fight to the streets above Raccoon City and mimicking the plot of the second and third video game you’d think survivors battling zombies and the authorities who had sealed the city walls would make good viewing, but with a target audience of pre-pubescent American males it’s no surprise how lame the results are. More flashy set design than action substance, the second movie features one too many repeated out-of-focus zombie shuffling montage for my liking, and the Nemesis creature is perhaps the most rubbery monster since The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Not even Jared Harris could save this one.
The third movie, however, is an altogether kettle of fish. It begins with Alice giving a voiceover detailing what has happened since the last movie. The T-Virus has apparently spread uncontrollably and zombies have taken over most of the known world. There’s only a few survivors roaming the deserts now, and they stay alive by scavenging fuel and food and by keeping on the road. Then there’s a shot of her burning through the best on some cool motorbike and realize that this is going to be a Post-Apocalyptic action movie, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior style, only with zombies thrown in.
And guys, it’s not bad at all. The first encounter with the feral Hills Have Eyes style family sets the gritty tone plus also demonstrates that someone who knows how to direct action is at the helm. Then Claire Redfield’s convey rolls in to town and you thank the Lord for the 70s, as the rag tag bunch of survivors fight off zombies, a load of bad CGI birds (which nearly lets the whole movie down) and the cast gets depleted very quickly.
Meanwhile, at a secret underground base (yay!), Umbrella are getting up to their old tricks again running loads of test with the T-Virus, trying to create mutants plus also combat the zombies we’ve already got. There’s even a bit of domestication thrown in for good measure, which goes predictably badly. The cure, it seems, can only be derived from someone immune, and the only person immune is Alice, who’s currently wander around above ground trying to understand these new psychic powers she’s discovering.
Anyway, all the mini-sub-plots along the way collide at the end and things get wrapped up very neatly, ready for the next film. The action choreography, sorely lacking in the first two of the franchise, is consistently good, as Is the general desert look and feel, especially the wide variety of desert attire and vehicles on display. The cast do their job, the pacing is top notch, in fact there’s very little wrong with Resident Evil: Extinction at all.
Okay, so perhaps the plot does read out like a cheesy videogame, but it’s a good cheesy video game as opposed one of the badly scripted ones they rush out two a penny these days. And yes, the CG birds bit is shit, but it’s when Alice turns up to join Claire’s group, so the scene at least ends on a positive note. And okay, this movie has kind of pulled away from the game franchise and completely decided just to do its own thing, but at least it’s done something good.
There’s a trailer on the disc also for Resident Evil: Degeneration, which is apparently going to be a CG Resident Evil movie from those clever Japanese folk. Whatever will they think of next?