Resident Evil: Extinction

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NEW YORK -- All too eager to please their fanboy base, the makers of "Resident Evil: Extinction" begin the third installment of their successful sci-fi/horror franchise with a naked shot of comely star Milla Jovovich.

After that, it's pretty much more of the same from the first two films, with Jovovich -- here accompanied by a sturdy band of actors familiar from the worlds of film, television, music and comedy -- kicking a lot of zombie butt. The film opened Friday, naturally without being screened in advance for the press.

The rudimentary plot centers on the villainous corporation that spawned the zombie generation now looking for a cure. Hence their pursuit of the genetically altered Alice (Jovovich), whose blood apparently holds the key to the virus. Between their so-far-failed attempts to clone her (if only!), they pursue her and her band of fellow renegades, who are desperately trying to reach the safe regions of Alaska.

Along the way, they make a pit stop in Las Vegas, now reduced, as anyone who has seen the ubiquitous trailer knows, to a ghost town overrun by the desert sands. Meanwhile, thousands of rampaging zombies, all of whom seem to have been hitting the gym regularly, attempt to literally eat them for lunch.

Fast-paced and filled with brisk action sequences -- including a nifty attack by a horde of CGI zombie crows and a lengthy up-close-and-personal battle between Jovovich and hundreds of zombie extras -- the film should reasonably satisfy the devotees.

The actress, wielding a pair of swords like a chef from Benihana, remains a striking action heroine, though she's more convincing visually -- those taut thighs are weapons unto themselves -- than vocally. Director Russell Mulcahy has assembled a diverting ensemble of supporting players, including the charismatic Oded Fehr (Showtime's "Sleeper Cell"), Ali Larter (NBC's "Heroes"), hip-hop star Ashanti and comedian Mike Epps.

Reprising his role as the evil Dr. Isaacs is Iain Glen, providing further evidence that the official retirement plan for distinguished British stage actors apparently is appearing in cheesy American B-movies.

Needless to say, the film hedges its bets by ending with a nifty setup for the next edition.

RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION
Screen Gems
A Davis Films, Constantin Film and Impact Pictures production
Credits:
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Screenwriter: Paul W.S. Anderson
Producers: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Robert Kulzer, Samuel Hadida, Bernd Eichinger
Executive Producers: Martin Moszkowicz, Victor Hadida, Kelly Van Horn
Director of photography: David Johnson
Production designer: Eugenio Caballero
Music: Charlie Clouser
Costume designer: Joseph Porro
Editor: Niven Howie
Cast:
Alice: Milla Jovovich
Carlos Oliveira: Oded Fehr
Claire Redfield: Ali Larter
Dr. Isaacs: Iain Glen
Nurse Betty: Ashanti
LJ: Mike Epps
Mikey: Christopher Egan
K-Mart: Spencer Locke
Albert Wesker: Jason O'Mara
Running time -- 95 minutes
MPAA rating: R
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