As the popularity of video games increases, so does the amount of adaptations that Hollywood rolls out. Sadly, the video game movie genre has seen its share of duds, leaving studios to continue searching for that first great box office hit.
In 2002, the first “Resident Evil” film arrived in theaters and was a relative success. It wasn’t all that good, but it was a decent video game adaptation. Of course a sequel followed which, not too surprisingly, failed to live up to its predecessor.
Now, director Russell Mulcahy (“The Shadow”) is hoping to bring the series to new heights with “Resident Evil: Extinction,” the last in the series. The finale ends up a mixed bag.
“Extinction” is a campy, action-packed zombie film that can sometimes be boring and formulaic, and it fails to rise above being just another video game movie.
“Extinction” follows the survivors of the Racoon City outbreak who are trying to escape from the deadly T-Virus, which has now spread across the globe. Nearly the entire world has been hit by the virus, turning Earth into a wasteland filled with zombies. Alice (Milla Jovovich) discovers that the virus hasn’t yet reached Alaska and convinces the others that they should make their way north. Meanwhile, the remaining survivors of the Umbrella Corporation are holed up in the few underground facilities they have left. In a last ditch effort to save humanity, they begin looking for a cure to reverse the effects of the T-Virus, which they believe can be found in Alice’s blood.
“Extinction” can basically be summed up in one word: mediocre. Nothing is necessarily bad, yet nothing stands out. The action is OK, with some decent sequences that keep the viewer interested, but fail to get the adrenaline flowing. The plot is standard, with just enough story to make it seem plausible. Even the final epic fight is average. It won’t leave you cheering, nor will it have you rolling your eyes. It’s just an average film.
What Mulcahy does well is successfully bring closure to the series. “Extinction” promises to be the last of the series and in that regard it succeeds. The few characters in the film all have a decent resolution and most of the plot threads are tied up.
“Extinction” falters in its unoriginality. In terms of zombie films, everything that is in “Extinction” has been done a hundred times before, and better. There was no attempt to make the zombies fit into the “Resident Evil” world. Some scenes feel like they were lifted directly out of other movies, most notably George A. Romero’s “Day of the Dead.” It would have been nice if Mulcahy had tried something different instead of solely relying on the franchise name to make “Extinction” stand out.
Another problem that seems to plague the genre is that video game movies tend to feel more like video games and less like movies. Sadly, “Extinction” doesn’t do anything to change that. There is no clever use of common cinematic elements such as setting, editing or cinematography. Instead it plays out like a video game, with characters mindlessly running around and killing everything in sight. And while that’s fun in a video game, it makes a boring movie. There are even scene transitions that look like loading screens from a video game, further illustrating that these techniques don’t transfer to film.
But “Extinction” isn’t a complete waste of time or money. The movie has a fun feel to it that is sure to please fans of the series. The acting is poor, as is the dialogue. But it’s not supposed to be great and, fortunately, Mulcahy understands this.
If you are a huge fan of the series, “Extinction” is a safe bet, as long as your expectations aren’t set too high. If you’re just looking for a fun zombie flick, give this movie a pass and wait for the vastly superior “Planet Terror” to come out on DVD. There are just too many problems holding “Extinction” back.