Saturday, 7 December 2013

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

I really liked the look of the trailer for Resident Evil: Extinction, with the deserted and desert-filled remains of Las Vegas. So despite the disappointment of the previous film in the series, I saw it at the cinema.

And was disappointed.

That didn't stop me buying the DVD when I saw it cheap, but it did stop me from watching it. When I pulled it off the shelf for tonight's viewing, it was still in the plastic wrapping.

So how was it on the re-watch? Not as bad as I remembered, to be honest. It's still a very flawed film, in a number of ways, but it has some pretty good sequences in it too. Unfortunately for the film, one of the biggest flaws is the opening, which puts the viewer off-side from the start. I think the intent of the opening scene is to make the audience say "huh?", with the mystery of what's going on drawing them into the film. The original Resident Evil did this pretty effectively I thought, with the nasty little elevator scene. Extinction, alas, fails to take into account the audience's familiarity with tropes. It's likely most watchers will assume the wrong details about the opening scene - I did - but ultimately this is hand grenade territory: even a missed guess is close enough that it damages the scene's purpose. Compounding this, the movie follows up with an action scene that is supposed to be exciting, but isn't because there is literally no sense that there is any real risk.

Once these mis-steps are out of the way, however - and I do recall them hurting my enthusiasm for the film when I watched it - the movie mostly corrects course. It introduces or re-introduces a bunch of characters, sets stakes for them, and proceeds to make their lives as difficult as a zombie apocalypse ought to be. There are still eye-rolling moments; such as when the old "get bitten by a zombie and not tell anyone" schtick is not only used, but then drawn out for a very long time. However the film does a good job of showing how even a reasonably well organised and capable group are going to lose people in this world.

The "boss fight" of the film is a bit of a fizzer, though, so overall the film has a solid middle with weak start and end.

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