Movie Review: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)

A mish-mash adaption of the first handful of games in the franchise of the same name, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a 2021 action-horror film, directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Metres Down, The Strangers: Prey at Night). In September 1998, Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) returns to her hometown, Raccoon City, to reunite with her brother, Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), who is working as a Special Response officer alongside Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen, Ant-Man & The Wasp) and Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper, Black Sails, Umbrella Academy). Meanwhile, Leon S Kennedy (Avan Jogia), a rookie officer who was only recently transferred to Raccoon City begins his first shift. At the same time, William Birkin (Neal McDonough) a scientist at a bio-pharmaceuticals organisation in Raccoon City known as The Umbrella Corporation, receives a warning that he must evacuate the town with his family, immediately. The film also stars Nathan Dales, Josh Cruddas (Anything for Jackson), Chad Rook and Marina Mazepa in supporting roles.

+ Neal McDonough is the clear standout, if only because his character is actually sort of similar to the one he’s named after. Despite their horrendously adapted and altered characters, Kaya Scodelario and Robbie Amell are also serviceable
+ the stuff they took directly from the games – locations, events and characterisations – are fantastic. The reveal of the first zombie from the first game is relatively faithfully recreated here, and an early shot of the Raccoon City Police Department actually looked so good I almost let myself get hype for what I knew (more or less) was coming. I was wrong

– I am flabbergasted reading that generally this movie is considered “faithful to the games”. The numerous changes from the game in this are all objectively worse in every way. Most of the characters have not just unnecessary backstories, but ones that directly contradict their characterisations from the games. For example, Leon is not simply a rookie, but a useless joke of a police officer well before any zombies are even introduced – he’s a rookie, but he’s also openly laughed at and made fun of by other cops, with some sort of ‘daddy’s boy’ thing thrown in for good measure. Imagine this shmuck travelling to a vaguely Spanish country to rescue the President’s daughter. He looks nothing like Leon, acts nothing like Leon and people don’t treat him like he’s Leon; how is that faithful in the slightest?
– all references to events in the game are hamfisted and clearly just a ‘wink wink how ridiculous are those games’ reference; why does Hollywood adapt games just to talk down to fans of them? An early joke about giant snakes and mutated sharks is treated as dumb, so if you understand reference to the game, then you are also treated as dumb. What is it about video games (when compared to comic books, young adult literature series, or classic TV shows) that directors clearly have such disdain towards?
– the plot plays with a sort of ‘time limit’ thing, but the starting time limit of several hours is barely part of the plot at all, and there are multi-hour gaps that go unaccounted for based on the title card. It was so jarring that I wonder what the point of it even was, except to create more confusion. Off the top of my head, none of the first Resident Evil games have a strict time limit, anyway, so what was the point?
– though mostly avoided, towards the end there are some horrendous quips that ruin any goodwill the horror may otherwise create. I completely and utterly blame Marvel for this, and I assume it will not change for a very long time to come. If anybody of any power ever reads this, not everything needs to be a joke. The audience is allowed to nervously laugh on their own accord without someone in the scene going “haha wow that hurt I am in pain look at my silly face”
– usually this wouldn’t bother me, but there was so much swearing. One or two might be fine for emphasis, but F-bombs do not fit the tone of the games and they felt incredibly out of place here

> there is a crappy post-credit scene too and it just made me hate the movie even more

Should you see this film: This was a bad movie, and I am personally insulted that it is being praised as a good movie elsewhere just because of how incomprehensibly poor the previous attempt at Resident Evil movies was. This was unfaithful, poorly adapted garbage that only serves to further destroy the chance of ever getting actually good video game adaptions in modern cinema.

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