Resident Evil fans have had a rocky ride over the years. Sure, the mainline games may have steadied the course with a return to true survival horror, but we’re still not that far removed from the dark days of Umbrella Corps, Resident Evil 6’s messy intertwined story, and worse yet, Paul W.S. Anderson’s progressively baffling film adaptations. Thank heavens, then, that a reboot has landed with a closer reverence for the games, right? Well, yes and no. While Welcome to Raccoon City certainly pays better respect to the source material, its squishing of beloved events sees the story and characters all ultimately collapse into a mess — one far pulpier than any of the on-screen zombies we see get gutted.
It's a greater shame when you realise that, to a certain extent, proven horror director Johannes Roberts clearly gets Resident Evil in a way that Anderson never did. The iconic series location referenced in the title is proof enough of this. Here, Raccoon City is presented as a dark, grimy, and eery place to live, the unofficial toilet town in an otherwise flourishing (you imagine) US state. It makes sense, therefore, for most of its populace to have conveniently vacated in the wake of Umbrella Corporation’s underground bio experiments slowly appearing. Problems soon arise, however, once our heroes are introduced, and the film doesn’t know what to do with so many of them.
This being primarily a faithful-ish translation of Resident Evil 1 and 2, you’d think that events would start at a similar point. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Instead, we’re treated to a plodding first opening act plagued by too much exposition and setup. It also feels like it’s trying to win over franchise die-hards by repeatedly having fan-favourite characters like Jill, Chris, and Leon say each other’s surname. It’s like the movie is trying to say: “See, I know what I’m doing,” but it just comes across as patronising. It’d be forgivable if most of them were given the chance to develop and grow into the versions of them we know from the games, yet it never happens.
Of the four leads, Kaya Scodelario’s Claire Redfield fares best, especially since a short prologue sequence set in an orphanage helps fill out some of her backstory, tying into some of the later gory events to come. You truly get the sense that she was a tortured kid, more so than even her brother, and the childlike scenery works well to establish a creepy tone. Implementing some fresh context like this into a narrative we think we know is a good idea, and should be commended. However, it does little to help you understand what makes other characters tick other than: they’re badass.
When the action finally does get going the movie’s pacing is much improved, and we’d be lying if we said that watching Chris, Jill, and Wesker slay hordes of flesh-eaters within the Spencer Mansion didn't feel just right. It’s in brief moments like this where viewers are afforded a glimpse at the kind of B-movie, grindhouse throwback Welcome to Raccoon City sometimes wants to be, only it can't, because the corny dialogue and character interactions are played by the actors with dead seriousness. By contrast, Claire and Leon’s situation in the RPD is blessed with hardly any action at all, and when the handful of familiar monsters do pop up, their appearances are far too fleeting, undercutting any fear or tension they might have had otherwise. Since when was a licker so easily dealt with?
Speaking of which, the film’s use of CGI is thankfully quite sparing, though it’s still hard not to be taken out of the movie whenever something that’s meant to be terrifying ends up filling the entire frame. You just don’t get a sense the monstrosities that the gang are meant to be fighting are actually there, which is unfortunate considering that their designs adhere extremely close to how they appear in the games. Turns out it was a wise choice to focus on modest zombies in the first and second act, as this movie needed more time and a far bigger budget to believably pull off even a zombified dog.
It all comes down to the fact that Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City was an inherently flawed concept from the very start, before the cameras started rolling. By merging the events of the franchise’s first two games into a single movie, we don’t get anywhere near enough screen time with these characters to worry about their plight, which doesn’t mean much anyway since it takes place amidst a mangled plot that is noticeably ill-paced. Reshuffling Resident Evil 1 and 2 also means we don't get to experience some of the best set pieces featured in both (and now likely never will). Instead, fans must contend with jammed-in Easter eggs, alongside breadcrumbs and teases for a sequel that isn’t all that guaranteed.
If you’re just going into it expecting a brain-dead zombie movie with brief flickers of pulpy action, you can have a fun time in Welcome to Raccoon City. Unassuming movie-goers, however, will likely be lost at all the fan-servicey moments, and anyone who is familiar with them will be too furious at how their favourite characters and story beats have been handled to enjoy any of it. As far as video game movie adaptations go, its heart is in the right place, but this is one of the sloppiest examples yet.
I could imagine a quality Resident Evil movie in my sleep. How hard is it for these multi-billion dollar companies to do the same?
I knew this wouldn't be good when they cast Carlos as Leon
I quite enjoyed it even though it was clearly terrible. Way way better than the last movies.
Video game movies are pointless! Why watch Resident Evil when I can experience it?
Say all you want about Wes Anderson's movies but atleast they tell their own story in their own world. It's why the first Resident evil movie, while not perfect, still kicks ass as its own thing. This one feels like it's reliant too much on fanservice (even the marketing solely focused on that aspect and nothing more), and not in a good way, since it's focused on cramming two different games into one, not letting enough room to breath. Would have been better if this movie focused more on the first game, and then the sequel could focus on both the second and third games, since they technically take place at the same time.
It's awfully woke.
@SoulsBourne128 Wes Anderson 😂
I never saw one racoon during this film.
Flagrant mis-advertising !
@nessisonett this will be my approach. Buddies, beer, and an unplugged brain.
Eh, Respectfully Disagree. I enjoyed the hell out of it
Removed - inappropriate; user is banned
George Romero wrote the only good Resident Evil adaptation in 1998, and Capcom threw it away because for some GD reason they decided they didn't want a direct adaptation of the games.
They then gave the job to Paul W.S. Anderson, who made one terrible "original" movie, promptly ran out of ideas for sequels, then proceeded to mine the games for ideas he could bastardize or just straight up rip off for the next however many god awful sequels.
They FINALLY reboot and go back to to the source...and somehow came to the absolutely baffling decision to cram two full games and 10 hours of story into 90 minutes. Big shocker that, obviously, it sucks.
Resident Evil is EASY, how do they continue f'ing this up so, so, so badly?
What is it with video game films and fan service and assuming everyone has played the games? I think a big reason the Sonic movie worked is it was pretty light on fan service and lore, you had the odd thing like the town being called Green Hill but overall the plot wasn't really concerned with throwing endless references at you and was more interested in Sonic himself, his relationship with Cyclops and of course Robotnik. Other then Tails at the end and Robotnik looking like he does in the game in a credits thing it also works as its own thing rather then setting up another. Don't get me wrong its not a perfect film but you feel Sonic was made as film first and video game adaption 2nd .
Jeremy Jahns summed up this film well in saying why i would want to watch this when i can just play the Resident Evil 2 remake and have a better time.
FFS. How do they keep doing Resident Evil wrong? Just watch the live action intro from the first game, then do that, but longer.
It's not rocket surgery.
@MyThoughts31 At least Kaya looks like Claire and is a pretty good actress, her Skins days also well behind her now. I liked Alice in the other films but come on those films were just a vanity project so Anderson could film his wife kicking ass and going naked, i had fun with the films for the most part but they're a poor take on RE.
@nessisonett I'd kill to see Wes Anderson adapt Resident Evil, Bill Murray could be Chris Redfield, Gwenyth Paltrow as Claire, Luke Wilson as Leon, and Tilda Swinton as the Licker with a special appearance from Ralph Fiennes as the Tyrant.
@RBMango Tbf Resi with Milla Jovovich were the best video game movies-made film your going to see. This one though, pretty bad
Oh my God... I am SHOCKED...
@Bentleyma- The only reason I can see why is cause movies are 2 hours and games are 10, 12, 30, 50 or even a 100 hours cough Persona cough so I can see why some wouldn't exactly have the time for it.
@PanFriedSoup A Wes Anderson film would certainly be interesting. Being totally honest i would love to see a director like him giving free reign with a film like this or a Marvel film or whatever, it may not work or even be good but they're would be nothing else like it in the genre.
First question they should ask any director or screenwriter when making a videogame movie adaptation... have you played the games?
No... Ok sorry, thanks for coming in but you’re not the right fit for this project.
Yes... You’re hired!
I honestly don’t think they care though. They aren’t interested in making a good (and faithful) adaptation. The only thing they care about it making as much money as possible, from as wide an audience as possible.
@SoulsBourne128 Oh man, if only Wes Anderson made a Resident Evil movie. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton. So, so weird.
Paul W.S. Anderson is who you mean.
@fR_eeBritney sadly this director/screenwriters is an RE fan. That alone doesn't matter when you're just a generally bad filmmaker.
@Bentleyma- would you want video games of movies though ?
@nessisonett Now I’m hoping someone does a fake trailer of that. 😹😹😹
Willing to bet it’s still better than the Milla movies (Yick).
@Deadhunter That would be a VERY weird RE movie hahaha.
@GeneJacket those movies are the worst. Couldn’t be further from the spirit and vibe of RE.
@fR_eeBritney The production company behind this and all the other RE films, Constantin Films, are a relatively small production company that primarily produces German language stuff. All of their stuff, compared to most US or UK based production companies handling IP as big as RE, is super low budget.
This movie cost $25 Million to produce, which is essentially nothing in the world of these kinds of movies. For comparison, the original Anderson RE movie cost $33 Million in 2002 ($51 Million adjusted for inflation).
Constantin spent less on this movie than ANY of the previous Resident Evil films or Anderson's recent Monster Hunter movie.
Obviously, they don't give a sh*t, they're just milking the IP for anything they can.
@nomither6 I don’t like the retelling of movies as games, but I like some games that compliment movies. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay is a good example.
@Arnna I actually would take the first RE of the Alice series over this one, don't know how Paul messed up so bad with the rest of the sequels but the first one is technically a good movie.
People expecting this to be a fundamentally “good” movie 😂 I love Resident Evil but the stories are shockingly bad.
Can’t wait to see this at the weekend, just be nice to goto the cinema again.
The casting was already something that pissed me off Jill and Leon where a joke atleast make them look like the characters of the game.
@Juanalf Same here i loved the first one the second he just got way to creative a good Nemesis....
@Arnna I had no issues with her as Jill cant say the same of the new one. The first movie was quite fun to watch.
@Juanalf Technically a decent film but nothing to do with resident evil.
That picture with the bangs popping out of the eyehole of the mask...is that supposed to be scary?
@WallyWest Skins is what made Kaya the star she is now. She would be an idiot to forget that.
@Flaming_Kaiser you mean the wokeness where Leon is now Mexican for some reason and Jill is mixed race? As I said couldn't be further from Resident Evil if it tried.
Was concerned about the movie when the casting choices were clearly focused on 'diversity' rather than being true to the characters. However, as a fan I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt, which will not be happening again. I can overlook what I think is poor casting, like Leon, but this take on him was beyond ridiculous. Then there's Jill, again poor casting but could be overlooked if she acts like Jill. Instead, she's pushed mostly to the side which makes no sense as she was a major part of the early games this film is based off of.
The most disappointing part is that Resident Evil really shouldn't be this difficult to translate to movies. Certain franchises don't work but this one should. Unfortunately nobody has found the right formula. Even Capcom's own CGI movies are only a little above average at best. After so many attempts, maybe this IP should stick to games and nothing else.
Wes Anderson's Resident Evil would be an amazing thing to experience. My butt is in the theater day one for that.
@nessisonett Yeah, it's a fun bad movie. Pretty much what I was expecting from the previews, so I was fine with it. It at least has a comprehensible plot, some decent cinematography in spots, nice sets, and feels like Resident Evil.
Way better than the incomprehensible mid-00s action vehicles that carried the series name previously.
@Deadhunter @nessisonett Yeah lol Not a fan of Paul Anderson's movies but tbf, he wanted to establish his own take on the Resident Evil story without relying to much on being too much like the games, which is why I praise them for standing on their own, even if later on the movies got worse lol
I honestly don't mind adapting the games into movies but when it comes to cases like this? Just turn it into a tv series or something lol
I always enjoyed watching Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil movies, especially the first and I did play nearly all RE games when they were released. Big fan of Milla Jovovich too.
@MyThoughts31 Leon does not look like Leon at all and Jill come on why do this i rather have them put Sheva in there.
@nessisonett Fantastic Mister Racoon perhaps?
If it was Sheva it at least would've made sense for her to be more a side character. Bad enough the casting with Jill wasn't true to the games, worse, they sideline her for the most part. Just a terrible take on RE. I actually prefer the first Paul W.S. Anderson led movie and RE: The Final Chapter to this. At least those were decent popcorn flicks.
This is why video game movies always fail. The director can't just copy the exact story cause they will be called lazy and games take longer than 2 hrs so you can't flesh them out fully in that time. They also can't write their own interpretation as it will be called unfaithful no matter what direction they try to go in. If you are going to make a movie based on a video game it would be best to use one of the side/ unknown characters and show that universe from that characters point of view. Like a police dog that didn't get turned.
Sony only gave them a $25 million budget. They are never going to give a video game adaption $100+ million like Resident Evil. Personally, I loved the movie and thought the slow build up was very Carpenter-esque and Assault on Precinct 13. I also think the two games actually lend themselves to being blended into one film, but the movie need at least another 25 minutes or so to flesh out the two storylines. Either way, loved the movie. So-called "fans" were hating it before it even released so basically hated it out of existence. Sadly, too because I was excited for a Code Veronica sequel. Now you all can have your beloved Anderson films and the absolutely god awful RE Netflix series that sounds worse than those movies combined.
@Gamer83 And if they cast actors that looked identical to the game counterparts and dressed them exactly the same people would be screaming it was horrible cosplay. Nothing will ever satisfy you people. Hateful and horrible to the core.
LOL, whatever you say.
Well I watched The Happening the other night, so this sounds like an Oscar contender by comparison 😂
Shot and lit like a damn american sitcom.
@jmac1686 there is no excuse for this blatant character replacement by forced diversity. Its Annie all over again.
@HUMPERDOO the happening wasn't that bad.
@Flaming_Kaiser because diversity plain and simple. Yet more replacement of non BAME characters. Think Annie or Anne Boleyn on Channel 5. I won't be wasting my money watching this racist rubbish that's for sure.
Knew it would be bad. I called it!
@MyThoughts31 Hahaha! Are you crazy? It's terrible! I couldn't take my eyes off it, a soaring firework of confusion and ineptitude. There are simply too many things wrong with it to list here, but at the core of them all is how it constantly strains to explain and justify its logic only to repell and undermine it at every turn. I just have no idea what was going on in that man's head when he made it. Just incredible 😂
@WallyWest Sanic was the best easter egg of all. I also liked it and felt it was set up well for a sequel, hope we see the knuckles tribe again, too. I've seen 3 times now with my 3 year old son who also loves it, I do feel it was written with younger audiences in mind, but it wasn't too silly either.
@Jayofmaya what do you think of Idris Elba being cast as Knuckles. At this point he's getting as intolerable as the Rock being in 9 out of 10 films releasing each quarter.
@Juanalf I liked Apocalypse too, but it could be because RE 3 was my favourite ps1 game and first RE game and so Nemesis was always going to be good.
@SoulsBourne128 Exactly what I thought, it should be 2 and 3 and they could have even adapted the story and had Claire/Leon and Jill/Carlos cross paths. 2 doesn't even take place right after 1, so what happens? Do they just cut to "2 years later" or something?
@MyThoughts31 I don't know, I never really notice who is playing who when it comes to voice acting. Also, I watch very little movies and tv so don't even know who is big atm haha. I plan to return to the cinema for the first time since Silent Hill Revelations on December 17th for the return of Tobey Maguire (probably brief, sadly) as Spider-Man in No Way Home. They edited him out in the trailer but here's one where someone put him and Garfield in.
@Jayofmaya Still Leon was a terrible casting choice he looks nothing like him he is just Carlos. Jill yeah i have no clue why this lady was cast she looks nothing like her probably the forced diversity agenda atleast dress them like the characters they play.
@jmac1686 Go cry somewhere else please and dont play the racist/hate card because its getting old. And yes cast the right people that atleast look the part or just make a original story. Oh i forgot its Hollywood they dont know what original means but they do know how shoehorn "diversity" in everything in the most horrible ways.
That's the easiest way for these people to shutdown an argument. They see somebody say something they don't like... 'racist!' or 'sexist!' It has gotten old to the point where it doesn't mean much anymore. Best to laugh it off and move on.
WHY IS Ali Larter NOT PLAYERING Claire Redfield AND Milla Jovovich ALICE
I enjoyed the film but had super low expectations going into it...
Now will I ever bother to re-watch it? Probably not lol
I saw it yesterday, thought it was ok, but I really wish they leaned more into the video game nods. Just full out, mixing herbs for healing, issues with space to carry stuff, different keys for each door, hunting for codes for the locker at police station etc.
The film was ok, but I got bored a few times
@RBMango everybody thinks they'd do great, if only they had the chance to prove themselves. The reality is that it's far from that simple.
@Flaming_Kaiser as if! Hollowood is full of original movies. Most of them flop. The average movie goer (and gamer) won't give something original a chance.
@naruball this is exactly what I thought when I read @RBMango comment.
@hypnotoad "It's awfully woke"
Oh noes! Does it have homosexuals and black people? God forbid.
@hypnotoad best comment 🤣🤣🤣🤣
@GeneJacket Wasn't his involving a romance between Jill and Chris? I wish I could read it again. I like Romero, but not everything he writes is great. I mean I should probably reread it, but this one reminded me of his script too.
@Humblesorts Yep, Chris is dating Jill in the Romero script. There's a decent amount of character stuff he changed, like Chris being a civilian rancher in Raccoon City and not a member of STARS, and some minor changes to Wesker and Barry. For the most part, though, it plays out essentially like the original game.
It's not a brilliant script or anything, a lot of the dialogue is super clunky and the Chris/Jill relationship is completely unneccessary to the plot, but it's a solid foundation for a Resident Evil movie that could have been revised into something great. My only real complaint about his version is that it ultimately just feels redundant coming from Romero, since he invented everything RE took inspiration from.
@naruball Changing main characters is nothing special maybe put some effort in there introduce original characters. This is just done to act inclusive for all the cheap reasons.
Jill looks nothing like Jill not even in costume, Leon i mean Carlos FFS do something good to introduce other characters.
They could have put in Sheva because its not we are going for a real Resident Evil adaption. Look for the bloody outrage with Ghost in a Shell but if its a white character its fine you can do what you want.
I have nothing with this movie and it was dead after the stupid casting and FFS nothing like the real character costumes.
The only thing that was there was kept was the bloody names. Why not drop the characters and go for a all "inclusive group" of new characters.
And stop with the fake outrage of inclusion of black or gay characters i would love to see the outrage when they would have taken Ada Wong and made it a white woman.
But i know im sorry inclusion means cutting out white people thats real inclusive. Also there are more different colors on the world the black and gay isnt the only thing in the world.
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