I thought the first Resident Evil was decent, in a crappy story, overcome by fun effects, good photography and cool zombie-action, type way. The second was pure crap, I watched it once and trashed it from my memory almost immediately. I still had to watch the third one because: #1: It's a zombie film. - I try to watch all of them. #2: It's an end-of-the-world film. - Again, I try to watch all of them. #3: It had Milla Jovovich in it. - I've been a big fan of hers since The Fifth Element, even if she's been stuck in crappy sci-fi/kung-fu flicks for the last few years.
Extinction is a major step up from the second film, so much so that it makes the series relevant again. As a film it's about equal to the first, but the breadth of the scope makes it more interesting. By now the virus that kills everything in it's path, has spread across the world. And I like that it literally kills everything, humans, animals, even plants. The world has become a desert, where even the birds are dangerous zombies. There is almost no hope for the human race.
Milla's Alice has become like Mel Gibson in The Road Warrior, constantly on the move because nowhere is safe, always searching for food and gas, staying alive any way she can. And just like in The Road Warrior she runs across a group of survivors that reluctantly let her help them. The remaining pieces of the Umbrella Corporation, who created the virus, are after Alice for her mutated DNA, which may offer some hope for a cure. The leader of the search has more nefarious plans for her.
It all comes to a head in the sand-covered remains of Las Vegas. Alice and the survivors must stop there for gas on their way to Alaska, there's rumors of life still there, and the Umbrella Corporation leaves a trap for them in the form of a few hundreds zombies. This is where the film loses most of what it had going for it, by becoming a mindless shoot-out where you can barely follow what's what. If they had stuck to more of a low-key approach to everything, with story leading the way, like the first two acts, the film could have been a high-mark in the zombie genre.
I appreciate what they were trying to do in Extinction, to make a more serious film out of what had devolved into mindless video game adaptation. The zombies are cool, I particularly liked the animal versions. The action scenes are well done for the most part, and Milla has her role down pat. The other characters are completely forgettable, including the usually cool Ali Larter, which also could have made it a better film, if there was somebody other than Milla to care about. Of course they left the film open to another sequel, and if they keep the filmmakers from this one, I'm interested in seeing it. If you ever wanted to see the zombie version of a Mad Max film, this is it.