film | Braaaaaindead
I'm not quite sure what the subtitle of RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION, this season's gore-spattered zombie smackdown, refers to. The human good guys don't, of course, end up vanquishing all of their undead foes; the undead foes don't, of course, end up devouring all of the human good guys; and — gargantuan of course en route — the movie's finale alludes to a Resident Evil 4, so you know that the franchise ain't goin' extinct either. And that's precisely the problem: This second sequel to 2002's Resident Evil — rote but surprisingly watchable — feels less like its own chapter than an extended previously-on-Resident-Evil recap that exists to merely set the stage for future episodes. Blame the script's rampant lack of imagination, which dooms too much of Extinction to repeat the same ass-kickery on display in better horror shows ... including, yes, Resident Evil. You dug the scenes in RE 1 where Alice (Milla Jovovich), a babelicious security officer who takes on the abominable grotesqueries created by a virus manufactured in the secret underground labs of the über-shady Umbrella Corporation, tussled with monster Dobermans, ravenous reanimated corpses, and tentacled mutant behemoths? Great! Because here they are again. On repeat. For 95 minutes.
So while a good deal of Resident Evil: Extinction has the mushy palate of microwaved leftovers, it still boasts one or two skillfully engaging action sequences. And hey, that's one or two skillfully engaging action sequences more than 2004's execrable Resident Evil: Apocalypse, a film that roused me only during the moment where Jovovich piloted her motorcycle through a stained-glass window, and that's mostly because I momentarily thought the theater projectionist had swapped out a reel of the film for The Great Muppet Caper. But put the entertaining bits aside — the nifty siege by zombie crows that skillfully spins what Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds woulda been like directed by George Romero on speed, a carnage-happy climax that kills off most of the irritating cast members — and you’re left with a greatest-hits montage of stock genre components: the sidekick (RE 2's Mike Epps) who gets bitten and keeps his transformation to slobbering monstrosity a secret as long as possible; the phony-baloney scares (phew! It was only a can of nails! Or a lamp!); the pompous-ass British scientist (RE 2's Iain Glen) whose chin-strokingly brilliant scheme to rehabilitate the Living Dead naturally doesn't turn out too well for him. In a year that's seen both wittier — Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse lark — and smarter — 28 Weeks Later, with its dire political subtext — riffs on the old zombie formula, this Resident Evil just doesn't cut the gristle. C-