Monday, 1 April 2013

Resident Evil: Extinction

The third live-action film in the franchise that may never end begins with Alice seemingly waking up as she did in the first outing, only to be killed by a booby trap.  She turns out to be part of a cloning experiment at the Umbrella Corporation, the real Alice now travelling across country as a simultaneous means of avoiding the plague while searching for answers/solutions.  She hooks up with a travelling team of soldiers and survivors as they work they way across the deserts, finding hope in the idea that a place in Alaska has escaped the plague.
Resident Evil: Extinction feels more solid than its predecessor Apocalypse where the story is being pushed forward in a number of ways, and the script is superior.  Whilst it may still be a case of the desperately surviving characters ambling from place to place, I do quite like the 'adventure' structure of each episode, and Milla Jovovich's Alice is quite an appealing driving force that ties together each instalment.  Freed of the constraints of Racoon City and its immediate underground, the series can now take off across the globe (as indeed it's announced at the beginning of this film that the plague has spread internationally).  Extinction borrows heavily from movies that have gone before it, most notably Day Of The Dead (Romero's masterpiece of mid-eighties downbeat horror rather than the remake, which doesn't exist as far as I'm concerned) - witness the now-slightly-worried authorities living in an isolated base surrounded by thousands of hungry corpses waiting for entry, and their experiments to domesticate the creatures, in particular the Bub-like monster that is shown items with which it has some familiarity, emphatically reminding the viewer of Bub fumbling with a personal stereo and Stephen King novel as he momentarily disregards his hunger for meat.  And then there is the hint of (or homage to?) Hitchcock's The Birds, giving birth to one of the best set pieces of the series when the convoy come under attack from flocks of infected crows.  I found the Clare-led convoy somewhat difficult to digest - the rather attractive blonde doesn't convince as the leader of a small army and I'd suggest that in such circumstances as those depicted by the franchise tribe mentality would overwhelm leading to the likes of Clare being impregnated and/or dead rather than unanimously followed.  Not a nice thought, but then again that premise would not have sunk well with today's PC audience.  I also got the impression that Jovovich's face had been digitally softened during close-ups - rather than making her look 'perfect', it was odd at best and distracting at worst.  Of course I could be wrong but even the other actors, who were almost certainly plastered in some sort of screen make-up, had visible skin pores for crying out loud.  I also felt that Alice's superpowers diminished from the impact on occasions, being difficult to identify with and making her less human in the process.  Aside from those gripes I found Extinction to be the most enjoyable of the series, with plenty of action, a few nice ideas, and an epic, almost spaghetti western kind of scope.

The Blu-ray is the way to see this film: an incredibly colourful and consistently sharp 2.39:1 1080p image (grainy during the darker sequences), aside from Milla's Gaussian-blurred close-ups.  The TrueHD audio track really wallops, with incidental music grabbing you and sound effects exploding from all directions.  Sony's disc is backed up by a large amount of deleted material (why do they script and film this stuff only to ditch it?  If it's not working you'd get the idea during storyboard stage), plus featurettes and commentary.  An exemplary disc pretty much all round.  P.S. What happened to Jill?

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