Resident Evil: Extinction

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Starring Milla Jovovich and Iain Glen. Rated 18A.

A couple of months back, a promotional item came into the Straight office advertising the second sequel to the 2002 video-game spinoff Resident Evil. It was a plastic globe that, when you flipped it over, had sand filter down through letters cut into a surface so the words Resident Evil: Extinction seemed to appear out of nowhere. It was pretty cool. Flip it the other way, though, and some of the sand drifted down over a hokey depiction of the Las Vegas strip with enough grains remaining that you had to wiggle the globe to see what was underneath. It turns out the film itself is a bit like that flawed publicity device: cool in spots but basically a poorly designed mess.

The foxy Milla Jovovich from Resident Evil and 2004's Resident Evil: Apocalypse returns as Alice, a zombie-wasting machine who's equally adept at shooting them through the head and detaching their noggins with the pair of Nepalese Kukri knives she spins around. After escaping from a roomful of zombie Dobermans, Alice hooks up with a coed convoy of military types (including hotties Ali Larter and pop singer Ashanti) that's patrolling the Nevada desert and searching for survivors of the deadly virus that ravaged the world in the first film. This makes for plenty of postapocalyptic, Road Warrior type action as the desperate crew decides to make a pit stop in zombie-laden Sin City before heading to an apparent haven in Alaska.

The coolest scenes in the film occur when the convoy is set upon by thousands of crows that have feasted on infected flesh. At first, the avian attack echoes the chaotic frenzy of The Birds, but when Alice applies her telekinetic powers, that similarity disappears with the quality plummeting from topnotch Hitchcock to low-rent Stephen King (specifically, the crappy adaptation of his Firestarter).

With all the emphasis on the nonstop eradication of zombie dogs, zombie birds, and zombie zombies, there's little time for characterization, but Iain Glen's role as the Umbrella Corp.'s insidious Dr. Isaacs is impressive (for a while). He steals the show with his smug cruelty, but all his nice work at conveying human evil gets ultimately trashed.

Director Russell Mulcahy is revered by genre fans for his work on the original Highlander, but he won't gain many followers outside Fangoria circles with this over-the-top splatter fest. Then again, the latest reimagining of a gory computer game could have been way worse. Just think how it might have turned out if professional video-game adapter (and critic puncher) Uwe Boll had gotten his paws on it.

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