Game Over

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By Josh Moss<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

josh@louisville.com

 

Ah, the hardcore video gamer. You know the type: He — or, yes, occasionally she — stays up into the night’s wee hours chugging Mountain Dew, unable to put down his Xbox controller. Hell, the guy spends so much time with the game that he establishes a creepy fetish, err, fascination with the characters, especially when one of them just so happens to be a barely clothed babe. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Hollywood knows this. And it uses this knowledge to bank lots of money.

            That was the case, in the early 2000s, with the films inspired (we use this term loosely) by the popular Tomb Raider gaming franchise. It was a simple formula. Plug Angelina Jolie into the starring role as Lara Croft, and the boys will show up in droves. That will most likely be the case with the sci-fi/action-thriller Resident Evil: Extinction, which hits theaters today. It’s the third movie in a series based on the video games of the same name, and the beautiful Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse) plays Alice, a zombie-slaughtering bombshell with telekinetic powers who wears short shorts and knee-high boots and talks as little as possible.

            Even if you missed the first two Resident Evil films, you won’t be lost watching Extinction because, let’s be real, the plot’s not important. It’s just there so we can ogle Jovovich.  The story picks up from the second movie nearly a decade later, and the new backdrop is a world ravaged by the T-Virus. It has turned most of Earth’s population into zombie-like creatures called the Undead and has wiped out entire cities.

            Alice is busy slaying zombies and looking for motorcycle fuel at abandoned gas stations when she meets up with a familiar convoy in the Nevada desert. Claire (Ali Larter, NBC’s Heroes) is the leader of the 40 or so people — including Carlos (Oded Fehr), L.J. (Mike Epps), Betty (Ashanti) and K-Mart (Spencer Locke). They’re busy fighting the Undead and flesh-eating crows (don’t ask) and passing out the last of their canned pork-and-bean food supply. Eventually, Alice thinks it’s wise for everybody to travel to safety in…Alaska.

            Meanwhile, Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen), who works for the Umbrella Corporation (read: bad guys), is making a serum to cure the T-Virus, but — spoiler alert! — he has ulterior motives. He needs Alice’s DNA to create the antivirus and has already killed off more than 80 Alice clones because their samples haven’t cut it. Now, Dr. Isaacs is after the real thing. 

            It all plays out as if Extinction (directed by Russell Mulcahy) is spoofing itself. The dialogue is so bad, so cliched, that even when characters are supposed to be taken seriously the audience laughs. Honestly, (fake) tears well in Alice’s eyeballs, and it’s funny. Jovovich, Larter, Epps and Ashanti may not be top-tier actors, but it still seems that this thing was slapped together. Even the special effects are hurried. But at least the attractive cast looks pretty wielding blades, firing crossbows and blasting shotgun shells through zombie heads.

            It’s really too bad that video games are reduced to such pointlessness on the big screen because they often have compelling storylines. Gamers pay for Resident Evil, though. Until they demand something more, they’ll continue to get heaping piles of hollow junk. At one point in the film Alice asks, “You mean this could all end?” Not a chance. Because judging by Extinction’s final scene, another movie is surely coming soon.

 

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