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Resident Evil: Extinction

Granted, this film had one of the best trailers I had seen in years, starting off as a travel ad for Vegas and then invoking the yet-iconic shot from Planet of the Apes where the Statue of Liberty rises out of the sea (here, a desert, but same diff); but then I found out it was for another Resident Evil movie, and, well, damn. The first one was pretty good, but the second one was execrable, just a pile of crap that wasted an hour and a half of your life and had the gall to rip off Escape From New York. So my expectations were really, really low with this third movie, as, after all, a catchy trailer obviously does not a good film make (see also: Air Force I, ID4, and more recently Rise of the Silver Surfer). But despite better instincts I went, mostly because my friends wanted to go and we dont get to go together all that often. RE:E takes place some time after the last one, in which Raccoon City was overwhelmed by mutated-zombie-whatevers; now apparently the evil T-virus has turned the entire planet into a wasteland, where theres nothing but zombies and people and flocks of zombie crows (somewhere that must be the name of a rock band). Enter our heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich), still bad-assed and still looking under 30, only now clad in reasonable desert-surviving attire. Loner Alice purposely avoids anyone, partly because her initial contact with survivors leads to a run-in with inbred hillbillies who chain her up for sport (what, there isnt enough trouble in the world with zombies, we gotta have rednecks too?), and partly because shes developing dangerous psychic powers that she cant control. But when she stumbles across the convoy of one Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), well, she just has to do something before all those innocent people get killed. And once Claire and co. do roll into the picture, it becomes clear that this is not so much a sequel as it is a direct homage to Road Warrior, which, as I said of Barb Wire, if you gotta poach, at least poach from someplace good. Just as with Pappagallo and his merry band, these people are on the road to the promised land (Alaska, which is apparently zombie-free), and trying to hold together long enough to make it there. Most of Claires fellow survivors have to be colorful right off the bat because we wont get long to know them; like in Road Warrior, they die pretty quickly, paring it down to just the most colorful characters by the end (well, okay, the women. If youre a man in this film, you gon die. Only if you have mammaries will you be saved. Which will be great for that lone guy in the shack in Alaska, but). Chiefly notable among Clairs troupe is Carlos (Oded Fehr), who was in the second film, but is mainly cool because hes Oded Fehr. The acting is standard for these types of movies, a lot of gritty lets keep it together tough talk. Larter, for her part, channels Sarah Conner well enough to be interesting and likable; Milla is Milla, and either you like her or you dont by this point. To my mind theres no one quite like Milla; shell make just about anyfrigging-thing regardless of how bad it looks, and yet, no matter how awful the film, she still comes off cool. This is actually one of her better efforts and shes fine here (no Leeloo from Fifth Element, but no Ultraviolet either). One irritant was the

computer-enhanced soft-focus of her face. She looked fine in the non-enhanced shots, so I didnt understand why they needed to go semi-Polar Express in some scenes. Of course theres a lot of mayhem and zombie-killing here, as well as the usual eating of the human prey, and theres a subplot about a scientist who goes overboard trying to find a cure (that never happens in genre fiction), but for the most part RE:E is a well-executed action flick. If youve seen Road Warrior you know whats going to happen (and probably even if you havent), though its amusing that as soon as the convoy survivors are taken care of, they literally fly right out of the story. The very ending is overdone and promises a sequel (a requirement of any genre/action film these days), though I would have to say, with so limited a concept, they should probably quit while theyre ahead. September 24, 2007 P.S. I also found it notable in this film that all of the women wore reasonable outfits that seemed both comfortable and functional. No heels, no bare midriffs, nothing shiny was a pleasant change of pace.

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