Of Zombies, Cheesefests, and Super Special Blood . . .

I said I’d stop reviewing bad horror movies, and I lied. But this one, at least, was a trade-off: I’d make Mek watch some classic “must-watch” horror film that she had absolutely no interest in, and she would make me watch Resident Evil 3 so that we might mock.

And mock, we did.


Spoiler Disclaimer: There are light spoilers for Resident Evil: Apocalypse, that is, Resident Evil 2 in this review, but only because they’re important to the setup of this film, and I don’t think they’ll ruin that movie for you . . . especially because it sucks. The REAL spoilers for Resident Evil: Extinction occur at the end of this review after the blatantly obvious spoiler lines. Trust me. You won’t miss them.

This is the Netflix summary for Resident Evil: Extinction:

“Milla Jovovich returns as zombie-killing soldier Alice, who’s obsessed with bringing down the Umbrella Corp. When a series of viral outbreaks nearly wipes out all of mankind, Alice and a small band of survivors are left to roam the ruins of Las Vegas, battling the undead . . . and their own extinction.”

Now, basically, this is what the movie’s about. I guess. But lest anyone be fooled into thinking they’ll be seeing a lot of post-apocalyptic Vegas, let me tell you: the first time anyone even mentions Vegas, you’re 51 freaking minutes into the film. And this ain’t even a two hour movie. It’s like watching The Ghost and the Darkness for Michael Douglas and being bored out of your mind with Val Kilmer for the first hour and half. Also, Netflix, while I’m bitching: a sci fi trilogy? Really? I mean, I guess, technically, but . . . that’s a lot like calling Twilight horror cause it’s got vampires in it. Oh, wait, that’s right. Thanks, Academy : P

But I digress. Here’s a little more about the film: the zombies have taken over the world and the whole ecosystem is fucked. There are the bad guys (the Umbrella Corporation), the good guys (Claire Redfield’s Convoy of Rag Tag Survivors) and the zombies, who are less bad guys as much as neutral guys who just happen to eat people without prejudice, kind of like an undead Switzerland. Alice eventually joins the good guys in the hopes to get to a potentially mythical zombie-free Alaska, while the bad guys (in particular, Dr. Issacs, their resident mad scientist) hopes to find Alice so they can do experiments on her in order to solve that whole nasty T-Virus thing. Hilarity and flesh-eating ensues.

So, here’s the problem with reviewing a movie like Resident Evil: Extinction: it’s a lot like reviewing Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. That is, both RE 3 and PotC3 are the third movie in a trilogy where the first film was good/excellent and the second film was mostly/completely a suckfest. Now, if I had been tapped to write Resident Evil 3 (just cause, you know, I’m awesome), I might have gone with the tabula rasa approach and just ignored Resident Evil 2 all together. Unfortunately, most writers/studios don’t go this way, and it becomes hard to critique the lame ass things they do in the third movie, because they were already set up from the second movie.

Case in point: Alice and her special, special gifts. See, in Resident Evil, Alice was just an everyday kickass soldier chick in a red dress. But because of the crap they pull inResident Evil: Apocalypse, Alice is now, like, God. I mean, check this out: she’s got the hardcore ninja fighting skills, the godamned telekinesis, the creepy dreams that aren’t just dreams, and the Super Special Blood That Might Revert Zombie-Ism. If they also said Alice was a fucking Animagus, I wouldn’t be surprised.

It might only be my pet peeve, but . . . why must TV shows and movies do this to their awesome female lead? It’s totally okay to just have some kickass chick. Or, if your heroine is going to have special, amazing, save-the-world powers, she should probably have them from the get-go, lest the writers seem like cheap bastards who are throwing out every trick they can to hide the fact that their sequel sucks monkeyballs. Leave your badasses alone, people. Stop trying to suddenly transform them into some kind of prophesized/destined/genetic last hope for mankind. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Alias and Dark Angel.)

It’s hard to judge exactly how much this movie sucked on its own, versus how much suckiness it inherited. I mean, it was watchable enough. The action sequences were okay. Certain shots were pretty neat, and I liked some of the more minor characters (such as Guy Who Can Magically Tell What Is Inside Labelless Canned Food Without Opening It). But this one wasn’t nearly as fun as the first Resident Evil either, and I think that’s mostly because a) there are no well-developed characters in this movie whatsoever, therefore no emotional attachment to anybody when they inevitably get eaten and b) the plotline’s just on the bad side of The Cheesy Scale. I mean, there’s good cheesy fun, and then there are just bad movies. Usually, the difference is a sense of humor. If the movie can be playful, then it’s usually pretty enjoyable. But RE 3 isn’t really looking to be playful. It’s like it can’t decide if it wants to take itself seriously or not, and kind of just ends up . . . eh.

There are some plot developments that happen in this movie that I have a bit to talk about, but those, sadly, must go under the spoiler line. But we’ll talk more about bad cheese, trust me. In the meantime, here are a few random notes for those of ye who do not want to be spoiled for a movie you probably have no plans to watch:

1. The zombies seem kind of weird to me in this movie. Now, I haven’t seen the second one too recently, and I wasn’t really willing to rewatch it just for this review, but the zombies in Extinction seem to be much more Romero Land of the Dead esque than they have in the previous RE movies. I mean, just the look of them. They stuck out for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on.

2. Voiceovers suck. No, this isn’t true. Voiceovers mostly suck. There are times when they can be used to great effect. I’m determined to sit here until I can think of an example of a good voiceover, because I know, I know that they’re out there . . . ha! Three minutes later! Fight ClubFight Club has a good voice over. You know why? Cause it’s funny. You know what kind of movie probably doesn’t need a voiceover? Yes, that was the correct response. When Milla Jovovich melodramatically exposits on how the entire world became a “barren wasteland,” I kind of want to murder her with a spoon. And I’m not even a Milla Jovovich hater! Isn’t she kind of the “hardcore”, feminine version of Bruce Campbell? B movies rule!

3. The acting . . . pretty much what you would expect. Both Milla and Ali make serviceable tough chicks: nothing that makes me weep in a darker corner for the death of feminism, but also nothing that really blows my skirt up, either. There’s a scene between the two of them where Milla whines about people tending to die around her, and Ali agreeing, yeah, it sucks to be the protagonist and also, people die around her too . . . it’s about the only attempt at a real emotional connection this movie bothers to make. Which isn’t so bad, just . . . I don’t care about these people. They could have blown every character to smithereens halfway through the movie, and I would have been like, oh, look at that. That must suck.

4. Although, I should point out: Resident Evil: Extinction has held up Resident Evil’s fine tradition of casting actors who cannot pull of American accents. Why is that, I wonder? Do audiences really like a hero less if he or she isn’t American? In the first RE, half that damn cast is British, and you can tell almost every time they open their mouths. In this one (and in RE 2) it’s Oded Fehr. Oded Fehr, you have such a lovely voice. So did James Purefoy in RE 1 (oh, James and his smirky hotness.) I’m saying, accents can only make men hotter. Let them keep their real voices if they cannot convincingly pull American. Cause, sorry, Oded, but you really, really can’t.

5. If any of you people have played any of the video games out there . . . well, there’s something in it for you. Kind of. In a jacked up sort of way. For instance, Claire Redfield is a reoccurring character in the video games, although I mostly know her from Resident Evil: Code Veronica, where she’s strikes me as a young-ish, kind of whiny chick who’s searching for her brother, Chris. What she doesn’t strike me as is a badass, 30-something, convoy leading lady who never once makes mention of her family, let alone her brother. So, there’s that. Also, Wesker and his sunglasses make a few scenes in the movie. But he seems to be kind of a leader for Umbrella Corp. Was he a leader type in the game? I knew he worked for them, but a head honcho type? Maybe I’ve just forgotten. Still, this isn’t exactly the most accurate representation of the game. (I’m much more interested in the upcoming Resident Evil 4: Afterlife. Wentworth Miller—er, I mean, Chris Redfield’s in it. That’s why I’m interested. Yeah.)

6. Clearly, the final movie of the trilogy didn’t turn out to be so final. Hopefully, Afterlife will be. Because what do you call the fifth movie? Resident Evil: After After Life?

That’s it, folks, that’s what I got before the spoiler line. This review’s already ridiculously long. Just chatty about cheap horror, I guess. If you don’t want to know what happens in this film, please cease and desist all reading now.

SPOILERS

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SPOILERS

Men are doomed in this movie. Only women make it out alive. That is, by far, the best thing about it.

The worst thing? Besides the Super Special Blood that will cure Zombie-Ism? Well, there are the clones. Dr. Issacs has made about a bazillion Alice clones in order to study her and revert the T-Virus. And just, generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of clones. If they’re in the original set up (like the remake of BSG) for instance, then that’s fine. Otherwise, busting out clones is pretty much the biggest jump-the-shark maneuver of sci fi, no? Not to mention you’re walking a pretty fine fucking line with zombie fans when you’re trying to rehabilitate the undead to do simple tasks like playing with cameras. That kind of thing works best in horror parodies. And if you’re really going to try and sell the idea, it needs to be in a way smarter movie than this. In here, it’s just kind of a scene where the audience rolls their eyes and goes, “Okay, movie. Whatever.”

Otherwise . . . there isn’t too much to tell. This movie’s got pretty much your general apocalyptic/horror stereotypes: Super Special Kickass Heroine, Implied Love Interest/Soldier Boy, Funny Black Man, Helpless Blonde Kid, Ashanti, etc. Actually, that was kind of funny. Mek reminded me that “Funny Black Man” (Mike Epps) was in the second movie too, and I was just saying how surprising it was that he managed to live through it when, bam! He gets bitten in this one. And I’m like, a-ha. Fucking figures.

Of course, Mike Epps decides to keep the bite a secret, either because he’s hoping to randomly come across a vial of the antidote floating around, or he hasn’t made his peace with getting shot in the head yet. Which I can understand. Matt Frewer said it best in the remake of Dawn of the Dead: “You want every single second.” But still, you’d think when you can tell you’re seriously going down the undead drain, you might mention it to somebody or kill yourself before you bite your fucking friend. I mean, thanks a lot, dude.

And like I said before earlier in the review, there are some really nice shots here. The multitude of dead Alice clones lying in a ditch. Alice looking at one of her clones suspended in a bubble (it has vague Empire Strikes Back kind of feel to it, like, hi, Luke, you’re so much prettier than I remember.) Oded Fehr lying in the upturned truck with a bazillion zombies looking down on him. But three good shots coupled with a bad storyline, mediocre acting, and a total lack of emotional investment leave this movie a C, C- rating for me.

Moral of the story:

Keeping zombies locked up inside your fortified compound, or right outside your fortified compound, or even zombie dogs in a Return of the Jedi inspired pit to feed your enemies/random travelers to: never a good idea. No matter how “perfectly secure” you think it is. NEVER A GOOD IDEA.

Also: morons! Shoot in the FUCKING HEAD!!! I mean, seriously?

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