If Resident Evil were a TV show, it would be Ted Danson's cheerless post-Cheers sitcom Becker, another little-loved series that somehow lingered on for years, cockroach-like. Critics mostly hated the first two Resident Evil movies, and the public only partially embraced them; their combined box-office take amounts to a disappointing opening weekend for the Spider-Man or Pirates Of The Caribbean franchises. Not exactly the kind of money that normally sustains multiple sequels. But the Resident Evil films appeal to a select subgroup of people who love everything about video games except the interactive part. And apparently those people buy a lot of DVDs. So, without further ado, here's Resident Evil: Extinction, another rote collection of hyperkinetic action setpieces designed for the most passive gamers.
Picking up where 2004's Resident Evil: Apocalypse left off, Extinction once again follows near-mute heroine Milla Jovovich as she battles undead monsters and ominous corporate scientists who make their evilness plain by speaking in phony, Star Wars-style British-esque accents. Jovovich eventually hooks up with Ali Larter and her diverse group of scrappy survivors, who are hiding out in sand-covered Las Vegas before heading to safe haven in Alaska. Anybody who has ever seen a zombie movie can figure out what happens next. Somebody will get bit without telling the others, which will inevitably backfire. Survivors will be forced to shoot suddenly undead friends in the head. One of them dastardly science folk will protect the monsters in order to study them, which will also inevitably backfire. And legions of undead will be re-killed in surprisingly easy fashion.
Extinction lives up to Resident Evil's proud tradition of brainless, imagination-deprived, George A. Romero rip-off artistry. Director Russell Mulcahy (who earned his little-loved film-series stripes with the Highlander movies) and regular Resident Evil writer Paul W.S. Anderson compensate for the stifling warmed-over stench by killing a lot of stuff real good, and on that level—the only level Extinction is likely intended to be enjoyed—the movie delivers some simple-minded thrills. A solidly effective killer-ravens sequence that brazenly lifts from The Birds can almost be seen as progress for the series. (At least a different horror master was robbed this time.) An open-ended conclusion all but guarantees another Resident Evil movie in another couple of years. How about Resident Evil: Game Over?