Resident Evil: Extinction is the third film in the ever-growing number of Resident Evil films. After being taken in by Umbrella Corporation in the last film, Alice (Milla Jovovich) begins the film on her own, while the rest of the story follows Claire Redfield’s (Ali Larter) gang of survivors just trying to get by. The T-Virus has managed to turn the majority of the earth into desert, shifting the genre of the already schizophrenic series yet again. What began as pseudo-horror turned into action. What was action has become western-action. A couple other members return from the previous film; Oder Fehr as Carlos Olivera and Mike Epps as L.J. Wayne. Surprisingly missing from this installment are Sienna Guillory and Sophie Vavasseur, who apparently both left the safety of the group for reasons that are never explained in the film.
Extinction is set five years after Apocalypse, making it slightly understandable if a few members of the group left or died along the way. A real explanation certainly would have been appreciated though. The film opens with what first appears to be Alice’s memory of what happened in the first two films. She goes through the rude awakening she originally took, and then wanders through the hospital she woke up in. Then she is killed by a floating turret. Grabbed by scientists, Alice is thrown into a pile of other dead bodies. These other dead bodies are also Alice. It would seem that Alice is so important to Umbrella Corporation that they have decided to make clones with her blood to go through random survival tests. Why do they put the clones through this test? That isn’t actually explained, or isn’t apparent enough to have a clear cut answer. They do, and that is all that ends up being important.
Fast forward a bit to Claire’s convoy, and you will get an idea of how difficult it is to survive in a desert environment when there is no form of civilization to be found. They are running out of gas and food, and people are slowly losing hope. Enter Alice, who manages to save them from an attack, and things finally begin getting interesting. Alice tells them that there is a place where the infection might not have spread, and the group decides they will head there. But first they will need to re-supply. Where will they do this? Las Vegas, that’s where.
The plot of this movie is far more straightforward than the previous ones, Alice’s superpowers aside, but it takes far too long for anything to happen. The previous paragraph describes what takes the film about an hour to show on screen, and the result is a rushed final 30 minutes. When interesting things are happening on screen, they too quickly vanish. Look away for a second and you might miss all of the action. The final fight alone only lasts a couple minutes, and is only actually built up for about five. The beginning hour only has a couple minor events happen during it, and even then the time it takes to tell the story of Claire and her survivor group could have easily been chopped down to about half the time it actually took. Everything after that felt too rushed. Major events happened too close together, and it all feels like a jumbled mess.
There is one positive that comes out of the nearly wasted first hour, and that is character development. Sadly, character development left little room for comic relief, as Mike Epps plays a far more serious character in Extinction. A couple of the other side characters actually get to develop in this film, and then when they are faced with perilous scenes, you actually end up caring about them. This is coupled with realistic motivations, making you want to see them all make it to the end of the film. Survival is something that everyone can relate to in one way or another, and that is essentially what most of the characters are trying to do; survive. This is portrayed well on screen, allowing you to almost feel the same type of hunger and sadness that the characters feel.
The Resident Evil series has never been about being all that good. It has been about telling a story and keeping people entertained. For the most part, all three movies have done that. The back-story ends up being quite well developed, a couple characters are built upon to make you care about them, and it certainly is entertaining. If all three movies contained elements from the other ones, they would actually be quite good standalone films. Resident Evil missed the character development. Apocalypse missed telling an important story, and Extinction missed out on the good pacing that the first two films both had. They are all worth watching, as they will keep you entertained, but they all could have been much better had they fixed up a couple oversights.
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