DVD Tuesday: ‘Resident Evil’, ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’

by W. Andrew Powell

Resident Evil: ExtinctionHappy New Year, and welcome to the dregs of 2007. It might be a whole new year out there, but on DVD there isn’t much to celebrate but a lot of bad action movies. There are still lots of great films from last year headed to DVD in the next couple of months, but this week the studios are pushing out their “choice” films since most shoppers are still recovering from their annual Holiday spending sprees.

Resident Evil: Extinction
Based on the video game series of the same name, Extinction is the third film of the Resident Evil franchise and sets a group of zombie-plague survivors, led by Milla Jovovich‘s Alice, on a hunt to find a safe place to live away from all the horrific creatures that want to eat them alive. After surviving the Umbrella Corporation’s virus, there are all manner of zombies on the loose, including dogs and crows, but there’s hope that Alaska could prove to be a safe haven from the undead.

Described by many critics as monotonous and dull, Resident Evil: Extinction will safely find a home among fan-boys and girls if for no other reason than the exploding zombie heads and to see Milla Jovovich run around in a tank top.

For anyone else, Extinction is hardly the action film to satisfy you this week. The action is ridiculous, the plot and the script are utterly lame, and even the special effects look cheesy. If you have to see a zombie film this week, you can at least count on Extinction to fill your cravings, but it’s unlikely you’ll want to do anything but rent this horrific sequel.

Shoot ‘Em Up
Moving on, action junkies have a much better chance of feeling fulfilled this week with writer/director Michael Davis‘ spoofy and intense Shoot ‘Em Up. Starring Clive Owen as Smith, the film is a send-up of the action genre, with a slyly inane plot involving a baby, a bumbling bad guy (Paul Giamatti), and a prostitute (Monica Belluci).

While spoofing action shooters, Shoot ‘Em Up is still one big delirious cornucopia of guns, explosions, and tidbits of humour that fans of the Die Hard franchise should easily appreciate. It’s also entertaining just to watch great actors like Giamatti and Owen revel in their quirky characters, and the high-density action sequences.

As with all of the other films out this week, forget about clever plots and smartly written characters, but Shoot ‘Em Up offers a lot of fun in a super slick package.

It pains me even to say this, but Jason Statham has finally made a film that I can’t even remotely recommend. Starring Jet Li and Statham as an assassin and an FBI agent, respectively, the film sets the two on a cat-and-mouse storyline about gangs, guns, and reprisal. Statham’s character, the FBI agent Jack Crawford, is looking for the murderer who killed his partner, and it looks like Jet Li’s character is to blame.

Martial arts fans will appreciate Li’s usual impressive fighting style, but overall War is a dismal failure by a wannbe music video director who seemingly doesn’t understand what it takes to make great action work. It’s also amazing to me that a director could waste the potential of stars like Li and Statham. These two have action written all over them, but as Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe put it, “No one who’s witnessed any of the graceful yet blistering combat in the Bourne movies should stand for action sequences that look like they’ve been edited by an Uzi.”

Lastly, if you’re desperate this week, check out an unrated re-release of Miami Vice starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell as the iconic undercover cops Tubbs and Crockett. It’s certainly not the best action film of 2007, but it certainly has style.

Other arrivals this week include: the remake of The Hitcher, and the complete One Tree Hill (seasons 1 to 4).

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