Reviews

Resident Evil: Extinction

Carlos (Oded Fehr) matches Alice's not-so-interesting self-importance with a wry, almost-alternate perspective, self-aware and even sometimes unexpected.


Resident Evil: Extinction

Director: Russell Mulcahy
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Mike Epps
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Sony
First date: 2007
US Release Date: 2007-09-21 (General release)
Website
Lingerie. Oh, remember lingerie?

-- The Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence), The Road Warrior

It's not like you need to see another Resident Evil movie. But then, it's not like you ever need to see a franchise sequel, and still they keep coming. The particulars of this one are hardly shocking, though you may be surprised to learn that after Apocalypse comes Extinction. Once again Alice (Milla Jovovich) steps into Raccoon City's underground computer grids and above-ground devastation, battling for human survival on general principle. And once again, she begins her movie naked, in a shower, water running.

She dutifully dons the red dress and boots and heads off to do battle with zombies (humans afflicted by the T-virus, which leaves them looking ghastly à la George Romero and craving flesh) as well machines. Always machines. Like most movies based on video games, the Resident Evil trilogy features levels and traps and obstacles, the favorite being a killer-diller room outfitted with lasers that slice bodies into precise sections. As that room tends to show up late in the films, this early moment, Alice's re-introduction, features a more mundane form of sadistic violence, an automatic weapon that blasts through her belly and leaves her bleeding to death.

Or not. Turns out this is yet another nasty research project by the ruthless Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen), and the many Alices promised in the previous film are now in play. (This will grant Jovovich a chance to reenact the scene for which Sigourney Weaver agreed to do Alien: Resurrection -- Ripley facing her clone in a lab -- though it probably goes without saying that this new version doesn’t manage the same delicate tragedy as Weaver's did.) The Alice you care about most, the one who kills zombies with splits and panache (and machetes) is actually not on Isaacs' monitor and is not dead yet. Indeed, she knows from the previous film that the doctor wants her for nefarious purposes and so she stays away -- from him and from other survivors. While he keeps trying to make an Alice that will please him (and produce an antidote to zombie-ism in her recycled, recombinant blood), she's off riding her motorcycle across deserts that serve literal and metaphorical functions.

This is where you pick her up in Extinction. Though she spends a precious few minutes undergoing yet another encounter with the no-skinned zombie dogs (this time set up by a crew of inbred-looking desert dwellers whose bad teeth alone warrant their obliteration), Alice is on her way toward reintegration. As you will no doubt recall from the end of Apocalypse, she cast herself out of her latest human community -- in order to save them, of course -- and has since then played austere, angry loner, that most self-righteous and adored of action-movie figures.

And if this duster-wearing Alice is reminiscent of The Road Warrior's Mad Max, then so be it (she does have leather garters too, something Max did not). In case you miss that reference, the movie cuts to the community with whom she will soon connect, a convoy headed by (and named for) Claire Redford (Ali Larter). Very tough and angry, Claire keeps her 30 or so members on a tight leash, as they rove the desolate landscape in search of gasoline. The film runs the usual introduction of motley crew members: here's the tech Mikey (Christopher Egan) ("Set up a perimeter!"), and there's hopeful teen K-Mart (Spencer Locke), so named because that's where Claire rescued her. And don't forget midriff-baring Betty (Ashanti), ostensibly an expert at emergency medical care, but most often the object of L.J.'s (Mike Epps) lusty looks.

Wait a minute: L.J.'s back. You'll remember him from the second film, and he's not the only returnee. Carlos is back too, and yet another reminder that Oded Fehr needs a role to call his own. Once again stealing every moment he's on screen (I'm not saying it's hard in this movie, but still...), Fehr makes Carlos' silly stoic business Carlos slightly less tedious. He matches Alice's not-so-interesting self-importance with a wry, almost-alternate perspective, self-aware and even sometimes unexpected. This is more than welcome in a film that borrows from so many others.

Carlos is generous enough to be glad when Alice reappears. It helps that she arrives when the group quite needs her, being attacked by a digitized horde of infected-flesh-eating crows (see: The Birds), and that Alice comes equipped with new tricks, formidable force-fields and control over the weather (see: The X-Men). Still, she and Claire both know that even if Alice brings the travelers embodied weaponry, she also makes them targets. She's also been reading a journal left behind by a dead man, promising new life and non-infection in Alaska (see: Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, even Into the Wild), and so encourages the group to head off in that direction. Because if a dead guy has written it in his journal, it must be true.

Logic has never been the strong suit of the Resident Evil films. But this film's most egregious fault is its promise of a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas -- where Claire insists they all go to "gas up." It's a grand concept, but reduced to a series of shots you've already seen in the trailer. The fakey monuments to human achievement and self-love -- the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument -- make a statement, to be sure, as they are broken and buried in sand. The travelers are crushed and Alice observes, gravely (as she says everything gravely), "The desert must have taken it back." How this is a surprise to any of them is unclear (their planet's population is destroyed, right?). Still, the display of excess and artifice annihilated seems about right.

5

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image