Set in 1998, this origin story explores the secrets of the mysterious Spencer Mansion and the ill-fated Raccoon City.
(Let me first start off by saying that I am an ardent fan of the first two games for which this movie is based upon. I have played them, and replayed them multiple times over the years, and I feel that I have an extensive knowledge of the first two games)
THE GOOD STUFF
RESPECT TO THE MATERIAL- It is VERY important to note that this movie absolutely, positively, and inarguably nails every single visual and idiosyncratic detail that the first 2 games of the Resident Evil video game franchise had. I do have a feeling that this movie was made for guys like me. Guys my age. Guys who played these games incessantly. To some extent, this movie is not for the uninitiated when it comes to any kind of knowledge of the Resident Evil franchise. And you know what? I actually respect that a WHOLE LOT.
For all of this movie’s flaws, you can tell that the director JOHANNES ROBERTS wanted to emphasize the fact that he too has played these games, and LOVED doing so. You can’t help but to respect that kind of thing given the fact that video game adaptations into movies have been so consistently HORRENDOUS for so long that you can just tell that the filmmakers of all of those bad films were out there to make a buck, and not because they actually loved (or in some cases, even played) the games themselves.
THE BAD STUFF
LIGHTING- It’s kind of an unusual thing to complain about, but HOLY F*** is this movie difficult to look at, and I don’t mean in terms of the consistent blood and gore.
This is the most poorly lit film that I’ve seen in quite some time. Had I been watching this on a television, I would have simply paused this movie, went to the settings bar, and turned up the contrast to an ASTRONOMICAL level so that I can see anything that was going on in the background when the horror-type s*** was going down.
Given that this movie is set entirely In one evening, and has multiple interior shots in areas that are not supposed to have working electricity…it often leads to scenes being visually unfollow-able.
ACTION SCENES- There’s barely straight up action any to speak of in terms of shootouts or fights. All this movie tends to want to do is to give you a close up of a monster, play a loud noise, have some visually blurry scrum between a character and a zombie and then show the graphic aftermath.
There are a lot of close up of zombies popping out of things, and a lot of close ups of actors firing weapons at things that are not on screen. It’s the illusion of an action scene going on, when really that is not the case.
CHARACTER DESIGN- To have mentioned earlier how much painstaking detail was made to making every visual concept from the first 2 films come to life, It really is a notable misfortune that they couldn’t get any of the visual forms of the notable zombies correct from the first 2 games. There seems to be some clumped mishmash of practical and individual effects for quite virtually every zombified thing in this film with varying results. The final boss looks OK… But that’s only because he’s completely CGI.. Everything else looks shaky at best. I gotta point that out, even though I can’t really fault the film itself for those setbacks.
And the reason I can’t do that is because…
THE UGLY STUFF
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE– **STEPS ON SOAPBOX**
I understand what may seem attractive about the potential rebooting of this franchise, or the fact that you can look at any other number of horror franchises and see that they’ve been rebooted multiple times over decades (Halloween, Alien, Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) But the thing that’s not talked about enough about all THOSE particular franchises is that EACH of them have at least one entry that is either praised or beloved.
Resident Evil simply doesn’t have that. All Resident Evil has are the 6 SUPER awful films that came before this one, that had only vague relations to the games themselves. All of them cost a LOT of money, ALL of them were disappointments within the fanbase, and by the end of the series they were flat out hated. By the end of the original Resident Evil film series, the video games had vastly SURPASSED them in terms of cinematic storytelling even.
I say that because… nobody wants this around anymore. I think studios are at least vaguely aware of that, and as a result of that, this film is VASTLY cheaper budget wise than any of the previous Milla Jovovich installations of this franchise…and it shows. Every facet of this film looks and feels cheap and low budget, and it isn’t supposed to.
I respect this movie, but it is impossible to recommend to anyone.
RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY is playing in theatres now.