Resident Evil: Extinction

When one gets to the third film of what could be a horror/sci-fi trilogy, certain gimmicks have to be introduced.  These include but are not limited to: the end of the world (the risk of or the actual), deserts or cute critters of some sort.  Not to be outdone, director Russell Mulcahy chocks Resident Evil: Extinction with all three!

The world is good and properly screwed by this third installment and Alice (Milla Jovovich) has taken up Leonard Smalls’ (Randall “Tex” Cobb in Raising Arizona (1987)) mantle as “the lone biker of the apocalypse.”  Hiding from the evil Umbrella Corporation for fear of their turning her into a weapon, hiding from her friends for fear that they will be used against her by Umbrella and hiding from the hordes of zombies, because, well, they smell bad, Alice is wandering around directionless.  Much like this movie.

It’s difficult to determine whether or not the lack of direction helps or hurts this movie.  If it were on purpose, Mulcahy may have been showing through the film the terror and nothingness that awaits us poor survivors of the zombie apocalypse: a life of scrounging for food and praying that there will be a point to any of it.  On the other hand, if it were not on purpose, it just goes to show that the filmmakers had no idea what to do with this installment and said “Screw it, put ‘em in the desert and release the crows!”  I go back and forth.

Don’t misunderstand, Extinction has a lot going for it, not the least of which is the sexiest pile of corpses I’ve ever seen. (Yeah, I said it.  Find a cuter corpse pit and we’ll talk.)  Building off the ending of Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Alice has gone full-Tetsuo (Akira 1988).  These powers come in hand when Claire Redfield’s (Ali Larter) convoy of survivors is attacked by a murder of zombie crows.  That’s right, zombie crows.  In one of the most metal moments in film history, Alice destroys them using her brain and fire.

Also, helping the film are above average zombie make-up and a heaping helping of Day of the Dead (1985) references.  After five years, the zombies are looking a little worse for wear and the effects team did a wonderful job of showing that decomposing flesh and the sun do not mix.  Meanwhile, Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) works in an underground Umbrella facility with the foolish notion of domesticating the zombies into a viable workforce.  Care to guess how that goes?

Like most third films, Extinction does not stand well on its own.  However, within the series, it is not a bad installment and sets up a great ending that does actually continue into the fourth installment.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

In order to make a good horror movie sequel, the filmmakers must abide certain rules and conventions.  None of which are more important than the underlying rule: More.  And with More comes the equally important: Bigger.   Happily, for action/horror junkies like myself, Alexander Witt understood these rules and delivered the wonderfully over-the-top Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

Picking up from before the previous installment left off, Witt shows the audience how the Umbrella Corporation’s T-Virus spread and devastated Raccoon City leading up to Resident Evil’s (2002) climactic cliffhanger.  Joining (the finally named onscreen) Alice (Milla Jovovich) are a motley crew of actors that continue the first film’s tradition of English people pretending to be American including Sienna Guillory doing a disturbingly-accurate Jill Valentine impression, Oded Fehr being the man, Thomas Kretschman from the five year period in which he was the ONLY working creepy German in film, and Zach Ward playing a Russian…  Riiiiiight.

Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to rescue Umbrella scientist, Charles Ashford’s (Jared Harris) daughter from the quarantined Raccoon City, kill as many zombies as possible in the process, evade and/or stop Nemesis, a monosyllabic hulking monster who uses a minigun but only when he’s tired of using his rocket launcher, and, just so things are not too easy, escape an impending nuclear missile strike.

Witt and screenwriter/producer Paul W.S. Anderson like to pack as much as humanly possible into a sequel.  Luckily, they have more money to do so than the first film and they waste not one penny.  Right from the beginning, the scale of this sequel dwarfs the first film by focusing on an entire town, using primarily exterior shots to contrast the claustrophobic Hive, and inundates the audience with large action sequences.  Within the first eleven minutes, we get car crashes, zombie executions and delightfully ridiculous helicopter stunts.

And all that’s before Alice destroys three Licker monsters in a church with a motorcycle, bullets and sheer badassery.  Upping the ante from merely being tough, Alice now officially has superpowers!  You see the T-Virus, which at least kills everything and at most turns every human it infects into a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength, simply made Alice hotter, better, faster, and stronger.  One could cry foul but this clearly falls under the “ What’s Good for the Goose is not Good for the Main Character” clause of science fiction/horror writing.

Aside from the larger scale of the film, Resident Evil: Apocalypse exceeds as a sequel for its greater sense of fun, for lack of a better word.  Resident Evil was a very “serious” movie.  Apocalypse on the other hand cannot take itself too seriously if only because at different points Alice runs down a building with no thought to gravity and feels conflicted about destroying a her friend who has now mutated into a horrible creature.  It’s silly and Witt embraces this aspect by giving us gallows humor, creepy zombie children eating a grown woman, Grand Theft Auto references, and, because you’ve been good little boys and girls, Zombie Strippers.