The bar for movies adapted from video games is pretty low. While there’s often a great well of source material to draw from in any given franchise, it is often either adapted too literally or too much is lost in translation, or in some cases, the filmmakers take a giant swing.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is not one of these third films, but it does do one thing that many video-game movies don’t: it knows exactly what it is, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a good movie, that still ain’t nothin’.
The story begins in 1998, with Clare Redfield (Kaya Scoledario) returning to Raccoon City after several years away. She is headed to town to reconnect with her brother Chris (Robbie Amell), an officer on the police force. They’re estranged, but she has been in contact with some people in something called a “chat room” on the “internet” and has information pointing to the Umbrella Corporation poisoning the city.
The city itself is nearly devoid of people now, as Umbrella is also moving their corporate headquarters –a move surely unrelated to the poisoning conspiracy. The people who remain are already showing signs of things being off, though; between a waitress crying blood for no reason or a woman walking away from being struck by a semi-truck, things are not normal. The film wastes no time, either, all of this happens in the first few minutes and what little backstory we get is told in flashback.
Here’s the thing about this movie: it’s a pretty good adaptation of the first couple of Resident Evil games, at least in tone. However, the first couple of resident evil games are pretty dumb and dated now. Is that a bad thing? Honestly, I’ll leave that up to you, but if you want to see young, hot people killing zombies, then this movie has that in spades.
I am not even sure what else needs to be said at this point. The cast is nearly all up and coming beautiful people. Scoledario and Amell are fine; Hannah John-Kamen is here and a little underused. Tom Hopper is the big, kinda dumb one, and Evan Jogia is the new guy. They’re all playing characters that are about as three dimensional as the average sheet of paper, and they’re all doing what they can with the material. Also on hand are Donal Logue and Neal McDonough, and both of them seem to know exactly what kind of film they’re in and are super fun to watch.
The thing the movie gets right is that it remembers that Resident Evil is a horror story, and while there are some obvious budget limitations at play here, Welcome to Raccoon City is chock full of zombie action and gore. Some of it is too dark to see, but some of it has a late-night b-movie charm, too. Those budget limitations mostly come into play toward the end of the film, which features some interesting creature design executed in less than stellar CGI.
So is it good? Honestly, no, not really, but I’m also not sure that this is the kind of movie that has to be. Fans of the video game will find a lot to love here, and it is honestly refreshing to not have to worry about the previous six films of mythology and continuity. It’s thinly plotted and adequately acted, but it knows what it wants to be and embraces that to the best of its ability. It ain’t good, but all that ain’t nothin’ either.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City will debut in cinemas this Wednesday, November 24th.
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