The first Resident Evil movie was a decent if predictable zombie
film that was hampered by some slow sequences and the fact that it took
a while for the zombies to actually appear. (Read my full review
The next film in the series, Resident Evil: Apocalypse tried
to remedy those flaws by putting in a lot more action. Unfortunately
the movie was a mess and came across as a series of unrelated fight scenes.
For the third, historical, installment (this is the first time a video
game franchise has had three theatrical movies released) the creators tried
to go back to the horror roots of the first film while keeping the action
scenes of the first. The result? Resident Evil:
Extinction; A film that should have worked better than it did.
While there are some good sequences and some interesting developments,
the just doesn't hold together very well.
The Umbrella Corporation, a powerful multi-national company, was working
on a virus to sell as a biological weapon. The T-virus, as it was
named, had the unusual property of not only killing whoever came in contact
with it, but it would also re-animate the dead corpse and turn the body
into a flesh-eating monster. The T-virus escaped and though the Umbrella
Corp tried to contain it inside the research facility (Resident Evil) and
when that failed Raccoon City (Resident Evil Apocalypse) they weren't successful.
The T-virus has spread across the world nearly wiping out humanity.
The rivers and lakes have also dried up turning the earth into a desert.
(This last bit is never really explained but probably happened so the film
could look more like The Road Warrior.)
Alice, Milla Jovovich, having escaped from the Umbrella scientists yet
again at the end of the previous film, is living on her own traveling across
the midwestern USA on a motorcycle. She's been exposed to the T-virus,
but instead of killing her, it's "bonded with her DNA" and made her a kick
ass fighter. Oh yeah, and she has psychic powers now. After
she accidentally wrecks her cycle with her mind, Alice encounters a convoy
of survivors lead by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and single handedly saves
them from an attack of zombie crows.
Now, most rag-tag groups of survivors would be happy to have a gun-toting,
super-strong, psychically enabled warrior on their side. Not so much
with these guys. Claire's a little scared of Alice's powers and only
grudgingly allows her to stay.
On her travels Alice has encountered a notebook where someone determined
that there is a city in Alaska that is totally free of the infection.
Claire's group decides to try to make it up there, but it's a long way
and the Umbrella Corporation's satellites have just spotted Alice.
She's the only subject who has bonded with the virus, and they need her
blood, so they are not about to let her escape.
This film starts out with an absurdly long (5 minute) scene of Alice
wandering through sets from the first movie. Though things pick up
from there, that pretty much establishes the theme of this film:
try to recapture what made the first movie watchable. They don't
really succeed unfortunately. Part of the problem is that it is weighted
down with continuity. That can be a good thing, like in the Harry
Potter films, but in this case the creators randomly discarded some events
from the past but chose to embrace others. At the end of the last
movie Alice was going off with Jill Valentine, Carlos Olivera, and Angie
Ashford. Though Carlos is in this film, no mention is made of the
other two, and only a single sentence refers to the intervening years.
And why did they decide to give Alice mental powers? She uses
them to great effect at some points and then doesn't even try to use them
in others. It just comes across as stupid.
While the first two films had people that viewers could grow to like
(Jill Valentine, Rain Ocampo) all of the supporting characters in this
film are card board cutouts. Claire, a character from the video games,
has no personality at all, and most of the other members of the caravan
are equally bland. Even Carlos who had a forceful presence in the
second film seems as drab and dull as the desert locations they are traveling
While the plot, characterization, and continuity are a mess, there are
some exciting action sequences. The highlight is Alice's fight with
zombie dogs at the very beginning, but the battles in Las Vegas and the
attack of the birds are also fun to watch. It's just too bad that
there wasn't more to this film.
The Blu-ray Disc:
This film comes with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded image with an aspect
ratio of 2.40:1. The transfer looks very good, and though I don't
care for the visual style of the film, the disc did a good job of reproducing
it. The creators decided to make the exterior scenes washed
out with an overly bright bleached look since it takes place in the desert.
(This was an interesting idea the first time it was used, but it's been
overdone. Now it just makes a movie look like crap.) In any
case the whites are dazzlingly bright without being crushed and there is
no blooming. The interior scenes, by contrast, are very dark and
gloomy and the disc also did a great job on these. The blacks are
rich and solid and the definition is strong even in shadows. The
level of detail is excellent in both high and low light areas with fine
details easy to discern.
On the digital side things look equally impressive. There was
a tad of grain in a few scenes but nothing that you wouldn't expect from
a movie that was recorded on film.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack sounded great. The full soundstage
was used to very good effect with ambient noise being channeled to different
corners of the room even during the more sedate scenes. Of course
during the action the soundtrack really packs a wallop, with explosions,
gun fire, and the moaning of the undead literally filling the room.
The attack of the zombie crows was particularly sonically impressive.
The sequence was teamed with a wall of sound that would make Phil Spector
jealous. Sounds are reproduced with pin point accuracy too, and there
is a lot of audio panning which is very effective. In one scene a
helicopter passes overhead and it sounds like it's flying right past you.
The range is full, and the sub really gets a workout in a couple of
scenes. Overall a very good sounding disc.
Like Resident Evil, this disc comes with a good amount of extras, and
they've ported over all of the bonus features from the SD version too.
First off is a commentary track with director Russell Mulcahy, writer/producer
Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. This was a pretty good
track with the participants talking through the whole film and giving some
interesting information though it sometimes gets a little technical and
dry. They talk a lot about the differences between the three movies
and the conscious effort they made in this one to get back to the horror
feeling of the first movie.
There's also a four part making-of featurette, Beyond Raccoon City:
Unearthing Resident Evil Extinction, which runs about 30 minutes all
together. This was pretty good and talks about many aspects
of creating the film, though much is repeated in the commentary track.
They discuss how they wanted the action scenes to take place in broad daylight
to set themselves apart from other zombie movies, the choice of director,
and how this film differed from the other two.
There's also several deleted scenes that don't add much to the film, a preview to Resident Evil: Degeneration
an animated (CGI) film based on the series, and a series of trailers.
As far as Blu-ray extras go, this is one of the first to include a Profile 1.1 enhanced Picture-in-Picture feature. With the exception of the Panasonic BD30, there are currently no stand alone players that are capable of displaying the Profile 1.1 material. So if you want to see this (and you don't have a BD30,) you'll have to pop the BD into a PS3.
What you'll get when you do that is basically a new way to watch the special features. While the film plays a small P-in-P box pops up every so often. One of the cast or crew will then comment on the movie, though this isn't usually scene specific. There are also storyboards that are presented (which are scene specific) every once in a while. To say I was under-whelmed would be accurate. The presentation was a bit cheesy and I can't see many people watching the film like this. It's clear that the producers weren't sure what to do with this technology, so they just cut up the featurettes which are on the disc and plastered them into the film itself. The P-in-P was distracting, I found myself watching the little box more than the film itself, and unlike a commentary track it didn't enhance the movie viewing experience.
While this movie is definitely better than the second one, it's not
as entertaining as the original. It does get back to its horror roots,
but the lack of characterization among the supporting characters and the
some of the more silly aspects of the film make it less than appealing.
Fans of the franchise and/or zombie flicks will have a fine time watching
it, but it isn't nearly as good as it could be. Even though the BD
has a wonderful picture and sound, the best I can recommend is to Rent
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do
not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.