resident evil origins
The corpse of the Paul WS Anderson saga, buried in 2017, is still hot. And no doubt that an army of fans still pissing on them in his dreams, with the conviction that the director has manhandled and trampled this cult Capcom saga. But let’s give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar: the delusions of Milla Jovovich vs. zombies, clones and other slow motion CGIs are inherited directly from games. Not the best certainly, but those where Leon, Chris and company faced ninjas, dinosaurs and trolls around the world, in nanardesque stories.
There was therefore a boulevard to (re) adapt video games with dignity, and to return to the roots of evil with the simple formula of the beginnings. And the name of Paul WS Anderson may appear as executive producer in the credits, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City exists in total opposite of its saga. Director and screenwriter, Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Strangers : Prey at Night) mixes the frames of the first video games, and assembles a best of Resident Evil with all the primary ingredients.
So welcome to a fat feast concocted by or for the fans, with Claire and Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Leon S. Kennedy, Albert Wesker, William Birkin and his family, Brian Irons, Lisa Trevor, Brad Vickers, and a few other second knives. There’s the Spencer Mansion, but also the town of Raccoon City, its spooky orphanage and decrepit police station. There are zombies, zombie dogs, lickers, and that whole little world comes together in under two hours, with a budget of $ 40 million. Needless to say Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City seemed to fire automatically a cartridge in the two tibias.
Resident Evil (à) 2
fan servi (ce)
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City was thought, sometimes against all common sense, as a fan’s pleasure at all levels. From the truck driver to the climax in a train, passing through the forest around the mansion and the police station parking lot, it’s a gigantic regressive treasure hunt for the discerning eye. The film overflowing with references from all sides, to sweep the first two games, but also to cram a maximum of winks (the keys, the piano, the dialogue which plays with a giant snake and a shark, or the appearance of a well-known duo).
Reuniting Claire, Jill, Leon and Chris, the four iconic characters of the games, looks like a gamer’s fantasy, and that’s quickly what the film becomes. Director and screenwriter Johannes Roberts likes Resident Evil, and that love is there in every scene, even the ugliest and most ridiculous ones (special mention to some crazy musical choices).
There are of course elements rewritten and simplified, but always without offending the mythology. As for the characters, it is to better serve the action and group dynamics. Jill is less candid, and thus stands out as a very charismatic trigger ace. Claire is more tortured, thanks to a background different from the games, but can thus lead the story like a bulldozer. Leon is more puny, but he’s more in tune with the rookie he is when he first appears. And Chris, he keeps his main character trait: his muscles (and his bond with Jill and her sister).
The almost Fantastic 4
The Wesker case is even more significant: caricature of a vicious traitor and not discreet for a penny in the first game, he becomes here what he has always been on paper, a former comrade turned enemy. What to avoid Z wanderings, and give a minimum of consistency to the band, written as fast as in games – that is, fast forward. And while no one really has time to embody anything onscreen, Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell and Tom Hopper all do well, when Avan Jogia wrestles with the weaker character. .
Despite rewrites that will shake the church of fans, the film thus easily floats in a sea of horrible adaptations that have almost nothing to do with video games. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City looks like a Resident Evil, and not just any : that of the beginnings, which oscillates between the stupid pleasure of the B series and the little easy thrill. As such, a few scenes in the mansion provide the service (admittedly minimum), with a little surge of rage and an idea or two of staging. Never enough to create real fear, sometimes with a slightly absurd sense of space, but always with a desire to have fun with the elements in place.
the eyes bigger the belly
But once he’s dealt all the cards, director and screenwriter Johannes Roberts has to play. And that’s where the movie hits a wall, visible two kilometers away, like Tom Hopper’s biceps (revealed in Umbrella Academy, if that’s not a sign). In less than two hours, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is incapable of using its four heroes, its monsters and its vast settings with dignity. The pleasure of seeing all these elements together in a film then gives way to frustration.
Why use the police station if it was to reduce it to a hall (unveiled at the bend of an unfortunate digital map), a parking lot and two corridors? Why show the orphanage if it was only for a few flashbacks and an express passage? Why play the inevitable final flight in transport, if it was to do even less intense than Paul WS Anderson in his first Resident Evil ?
Why give so much room to Chief Irons, a character out of an 80s nanar, when other characters (at random, Leon) needed more room? Why fire Barry Burton from the team, but keep Annette and Sherry, totally dispensable? And why Lisa Trevor, also useless and totally rewritten?
* play amazement in front of a huge hall *
It is all the more unfortunate that the film (which takes place in 1998, like the games, and in a few hours) sometimes mischievously assumes its old school scent. The roots of Resident Evil are coming out of the B series, and Johannes Roberts has fun with obvious pleasure, helped by the photography of Maxime Alexandre (collaborator of Alexandre Aja, also on The Haunting of Bly Manor) and the music of Mark Korven (The Witch, The Lighthouse).
Thanks to a little rewrite reminding The Night of the Living Fools from Romero, this rainy city that came out of a good old Stephen King notably gains a disturbing dimension, which befits perfectly with the paranoid carried around by Claire and central in mythology. But all these hopes are finally swept away, especially in an insane final stretch, where entire scenes seem to be missing.
And no surprise, CGIs are particularly ugly as soon as Johannes Roberts can no longer hide them in the shadows. For a fun licker idea approaching in the neon darkness, there are two or three awful scenes, with a climax the absolutely disastrous final boss.
In the games, the hall of the mansion and the police station are huge, and in the center of crazy mazes. In the film, they look like large digital cubicles. It is like a film where everything finally seems very tiny and fictitious, even though the ambitions of bringing together two games (or even three) were enormous. Corn Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City collapses under its own weight, and the regressive little pleasure then becomes a desperate and hopeless sprint. As if there was no tomorrow. As if you had to put everything in, show everything, use everything, even at the bend of a shot. Even if it means botching half, and burning all the cards at once – which the film assumes at the end, in a kamikaze exercise that scares for the possible sequel.