Deja Vu

Koo-koo for kukris
I don’t know what got up the butts of the Rotten Tomatoes people, because I liked Resident Evil: Extinction an awful lot. It’s exactly what I was hoping to get out of a Resident Evil movie. There are a lot of reviews which dismissively compare it to a videogame, to which the obvious responses are: 1) No shit! It’s called Resident Evil; and 2) that might not be such a bad thing.

This one feels more like a videogame than any other movie based on a game that I’ve seen, and a lot of the stuff works for exactly the same reasons it works in games. There’s the save point at the beginning, a little dirt race sequence, lots of walking through nondescript interiors with guns drawn, and then walking through a dark cluttered medical lab surrounded by messages scrawled in blood and bodies impaled on spikes before the big final boss fight.

And for a movie about zombies, it seems a lot more like a Frankenstein’s monster creation stitched together from scenes and ideas out of other movies. There are the expected bits taken out of the first two Resident Evil movies, but they’re entitled, they picked the best parts, and it ends up feeling like closure to a series instead of just repeating the same old thing.

But as it goes on, it turns into a game of “Name that Movie” when you keep seeing set-ups that are eerily familiar. It hits on the obvious, of course — there’s a couple of scenes at a gas station that are straight out of Dawn of the Dead, then a couple of sequences lifted almost verbatim from Day of the Dead. Then there’s the sequence that’s like The Road Warrior, then The Birds, plus The Empire Strikes Back. And if you look real close, you get hints of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Akira, and kind of almost Enemy of the State. I’m sure that people who’d seen more cheesy action movies than I have would be able to spot more.

That all makes it sound completely unoriginal, and it mostly is. But I’ll take a movie that’s solid, exciting, entertaining, and unoriginal, over one that thinks too much of itself and fails.

One weird thing that kept bugging me: I couldn’t tell if they went in and airbrushed/photoshopped the lead actresses’ faces during close-up scenes. They all had this really weird much-too-smooth look to them, and it was distracting. I couldn’t tell if it was over-compensating desert make-up, or if they really did go back and edit the move in CG to make all the women look freakier.

I was genuinely disappointed to read online that this is the last in the series. Because the end of the movie sets up for a sequel that would be one of the most awesome action movies ever made. I was ready to just sit in the theater and wait for them to finish making the fourth movie.

In any case, I hope they can come up with another franchise for Milla Jovovich as good as the Resident Evil movies. Because she’s just fantastic in these, but keeps winding up in garbage that doesn’t take advantage of what she does best — which is playing a beautiful woman who doesn’t put any effort into or value on looking beautiful (unlike Ultraviolet), who has a handle on what’s happening (unlike The Fifth Element), and could totally kick your ass.