“Maybe next time.”
RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY (2021)
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"Set in 1998, this origin story explores the secrets of the mysterious Spencer Mansion and the ill-fated Raccoon City."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
I'm a huge Resident Evil fan. HUGE! So when I heard there was going to be another movie based on one of my favorite video game franchises of all time, I immediately got both excited and worried. The Paul W.S Anderson movies are trash and enjoyably so but nowhere near accurate to the video games. With this movie, Sony and director Johannes Roberts (The Strangers: Prey at Night) promised a much more faithful adaptation that'll be scary and contain tons of in-jokes and references to the games. When I heard this, I got a little more optimistic. I liked previous movies from Roberts and I'm a giant idiot so I just believed this would've been good.
Like I said...I'm an idiot.
My first problem with this movie is how "accurate" it really is. Sure, this Resident Evil is much more accurate when it comes to having some of the plot elements and characters that we expect but it's mostly just surface level because none of these characters actually feel like the video game counterparts let alone look anything like them. The casting of Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia) and Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen) gained some controversy back when this was first announced but I wasn't too bothered as long as the actors do a fine job. They ended up doing a decent job with what they're given but most of the characters are either dull as dishwater, underdeveloped, or completely different from their video game counterparts that the casting ended up not even mattering. They could've been perfectly cast but the writing is still so mediocre that it wouldn't have mattered.
My second problem with the movie is how cheap it looks. Not just visual effects but the overall filmmaking makes this feel more like a straight to DVD movie (similar to DOOM: Annihilation) than a theatrical film. It's obvious they had the passion and wanted to replicate the classic sets of the original games but didn't have enough of a budget to do it perfectly. All of the sets are mostly accurate and it's neat to see some of the puzzles and items in live-action but the sets feel too small and are used WAY too little. Also, considering it's called Welcome to Raccoon City, there's not a whole lot of Raccoon City in this. The editing is also very sloppy especially when they decide to turn the lights out for a solid chunk of the movie and it's nothing but muzzle flashes and close-ups of faces. Overall, it just feels like the movie was rushed, had too small of a budget but had its heart in the right place.
My third and final problem is just how slow and mundane the movie ended up being. I can forgive the shallow characters and the changes to the source materials story but the movie takes way too long getting to what everyone wants to see which are the zombies and the classic settings. This wouldn't be a huge problem but the film doesn't spend that time developing characters in any meaningful way. It just sorts of meanders around flinging lame jokes about the '90s (the time period for which it is set) and references to the video games at the audience without building any kind of tension. In no way is this movie scary and, if you aren't a fan of the games, then you'll be very confused about what is going on. They barely even talk about the Umbrella Corporation who's the big bad in the games.
Again, these problems wouldn't be that glaring if they replaced these missing elements with literally ANYTHING GOOD but they don't. It's fun to see some of the settings from the games and a couple of the puzzles adapted into live-action but it's the same feeling I had with Ghostbusters: Afterlife. A lot of "I know what that is!" and "I remember that thing from the original!" but not a lot of actual interest in the film I'm currently watching. That being said, Afterlife is a whole lot better.
Also, they severely underuse the Licker which is easily my favorite enemy from the games. Seriously, it's in the movie for all of 30 seconds. Even the previous movies had them in for longer.
Maybe next time.