Sunday, October 21, 2007

Al's RESIDENT EVIL:EXTINCTION 3 is more muffin than cake theory

I met your sister. She was a homicidal bitch.This review is posted by the target demographic, Al, who can usually be found here.

I remember playing those retro RESIDENT EVIL vid games back in primary school, when my eldest sis first introduced them to us younger siblings. At first we cowered, hiding behind pillows while reluctantly peeking out to see how the game progressed as whoever was playing courageously journeyed past armies of zombies, and along with the atmospheric music and special effects the game had, it was a genuinely scary experience at that time. It didn't take long before we took charge ourselves and soon after we were the ones gunning down the undead: as the extremity of the terror increased so did our immunity towards it.

Anyhu, let's get to the film. Extinction carries a wafer-thin plot mostly consisting of scenes where the surviving humans combat the zombies and nothing much else. The entire direction this movie adopts is transparently straightforward: no pretensions about what it's trying to do-unlike some other piece of exceedingly torturous garbage such as
TRANSFORMERS. In TRANSFORMERS the insufferable script was made worse with lame humour and annoying characters. It was a perfect case of a dumb kid pretending to be an adult: utterly oblivious at how badly he was humiliating himself. And it is in this respect,the RESIDENT EVIL trilogy succeeds..sorta.

It has many right things going for it - Milla Jovovich, probably one of the least talented actors around - dare I say the female equivalent of Josh Hartnett? Nah, not that bad - she manages to pull off the Alice character just o-k and doesn't annoy the hell out of me. It's a good thing the second movie turned the character into a half-robot of some kind, because Jovovich's stilted acting suits that level of starry-eyed emotionlessness the act requires, but when she tries to cry - kill me, kill me quick. Aside from that, they have all the essential ingredients in place - the zombies aren't too shabbily done, the cinematography's not bad - it's certainly nothing new, but occasionally it does unexpectedly impress with some nice desert landscapes.

Expanding on that, the RESIDENT EVIL franchise is like someone setting out to bake a cake, and after gathering all the right ingredients for it, the person decides to use all of it to make a muffin (okay, hold that thought). It's all out of order, objectives aren't met and the end result is distant from what was envisaged - it has crude chunks of details unobservantly picked out from the game, but just because you've inserted the Alice character, the Umbrella company, some vague virus and hoards of zombies and a script full of words like "infected", "cure", "hope"- it doesn't mean it's really RESIDENT EVIL. Really it's more of an excuse to put a hot chick in the lead, give her a couple of guns and knives and get her to do some real cool martial arts shit while occasionally making obligatory references to its origins. It might as well be titled Karate Blondie or Zombie Barbie, and it'll still retain the tiny amount of relevance it had to its content and existence. But-going back to the cake/muffin analogy: muffins most definitely have their own exquisite taste to offer, and biting into this one you get faint, weak traces of the cake it originally aspired to be. I feel slightly infuriated, but I wasn't promised a real cake in the first place and the accidental muffin's quite nice.

Characters are thrown into the story like slaves to a plot, each with one unambiguous function. Children are there to be protected; teen girl cries to show remorse at every possible chance; evil boss is the evil boss, complete with ubiquitous sunnies that never come off and assisted by blue-collared workers whose speeches are limited to supporting one-liners with no real purpose but to point out the obvious and attempt to make things more serious. e.g. "That's unbelievable". "This is not going according to plan". Like zombies, but more subtle. Anyhu,everyone but Alice gets killed off or shoved out of the story eventually and everything leading up to that point seems utterly pointless by then.

It's unremarkable and offers absolutely nothing new - you'd expect a franchise coming this far to take a few tips, maybe hire better special effects people (there was one scene when the skies filled with fire-which was particularly cartoon-y and unrealistic) and make better use of the supporting characters and leave out all the unnecessary jumpy scenes. Plus, it recycles a lot of things from the previous two installments. The main character doesn't evolve, just a change of clothes and hairstyle and much less talking. And,perhaps the most unforgivable - they used the flesh-chopping laser room in the first RE to finish things off (to seal the climax) -and things just abruptly come to a halt. The past two REs ended very well, this one does too I guess with this whole Alice clone thing revealed at the final part-but the battle between Alice and the crazy creature close to the end finishes off disappointingly,with some silly Poltergeist-ish I-move-things-with-my-mind schtick that should've been omitted completely.

But it's still fairly enjoyable-at the end,I thought "That's exactly what I came for" and unlike disposable, no-brainer flicks like Transformers or Fantastic 4 (both of them), this one has no grand delusions: it's just a story about a girl with too much bronzer on and some cannibalistic zombies and animals we don't mind seeing explode to bits or getting their necks hacked off. And it's not too bad, not too bad.

RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION is on release in Russia, Mexico, USA, the Philippines, Germany, India, Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Brazil, Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Argentina, Australia, Hungary, Singapore, Italy, Kuwait, the UK, Slovenia, South Korea, Iceland and Turkey. It opens in New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Bolivia and Spain later in October. It opens in Bolivia, Slovakia, Finland, Venezuela, Japan, Denmark, Latvia, the Netherlands and Norway in November 2007. It opens in Egypt on January 9th 2008.

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