Whilst the Resident Evil video game franchise might be well known for its innovate scares and genre defining gameplay, its safe to say the cinematic attempts to translate this onto the big screen haven’t quite made the same impact. Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptation of the game franchise span across six films and with it formed its own cinematic universe, moulding elements from the game to tell the tale of original character Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she slices her way through the zombie apocalypse. Alice was a powerhouse of a character and Anderson’s Resident Evil proclaimed its distain for corporate capitalism in every film. Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City opts for a different approach.
Set in 1998, Racoon City has been left to rot by its former owner the Umbrella Corporation, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company. With nothing left to gain from the city, the Umbrella Corp jump ship, leaving the zombie apocalypse, and countless survivors, behind. Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) returns to the city in search of her brother, police officer Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell). All hell breaks loose as Claire joins forces with rookie cop Leon Kennedy (Avan Jogia), Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen) and Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper).
The original live action films depict the franchise’s most beloved characters with a level of accuracy and attention to detail (in terms of casting and costume) which is difficult to find consistently in RE: Welcome to Racoon City. The film is riddled with Easter eggs, calling back to classic game titles such as Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil Code Veronica and, of course, Resident Evil 1 & 2. As a lifelong fan of everything Resident Evil (including Milla Jovovich), it’s hard to look past the significant flaws in Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City. This adaptation does little to entice new fans into the series as the main part of its enjoyability comes from the fan service. The lack of pacing, practical effects, decent lighting and any character development result in a surface level survival horror inspired action film. Mix in one too many flash cuts and the result is a messy, sloppy time.
The plot is an overcomplicated mess directly ripped from the remakes of the games, although majorly lacking in any real tension as director/writer Johannes Roberts fails to provide significant scares or gore. The cast do their best with what they’ve got to work with, as all the characters are shallow and lack any development, operating only as a hollow representation of beloved characters from the video game franchise. Roberts certainly fails to leave his mark on the series in the same was as Anderson. Although, Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City showcases an obvious grand appreciation for the game franchise, but does little to build upon this appreciation and craft something truly horrific or memorable.
Overall, it works as an entertaining, humours piece of fan service but nothing more. The after credits scene serves as the strongest scene, setting up the sequel and certainly generating a little excitement for what’s to come next, as it can surely only be an improvement.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is out in cinemas now
by Kelsie Dickinson