The first trailer for Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City received a viscerally divisive reaction from its fan base. Many hated the casting choices from the get go and the bizarre trailer music choice didn’t help. However it was undeniable from a visual and iconography perspective that film captured the source material impressively. Whilst it’s certainly not the worst video game adaptation of all time, it’s definitely not the potentially great one that part of me had hoped for.
Written by Jack Ransom
The franchise film adaptation reboot after the W.S. Anderson/Jovovich collaborations wrapped up five years ago. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City follows a small group of survivors, who must work together to uncover the truth behind Umbrella and survive the night in the desolate Raccoon City.
Adapting both the first and second game is an understandable choice. Both feature arguably the series’ two most iconic locations and introduce its most popular characters. However blending both together under two hours certainly has its detriments. Especially with the inclusion of Claire’s childhood flashbacks, which I get are to help piece together the mystery, but honestly they take up far too much of the runtime. Character motivations are either vague or simplistic and any substantial or tangible character relationships are non-existent and the ending almost made me laugh out loud at how sudden it is.
Where the film shines is in its tone and visual stylisation. The cinematography throughout is surprisingly great and is dripping with atmosphere. The lighting is mostly superb, sometimes it can be too overbearing (one scene in particular, whilst admirably creative, descends into disorientating mess of intense strobes), but it perfectly nails the atmosphere of the Spencer mansion and the R.P.D. The CGI unfortunately does suffer throughout. Most clearly on the frankly laughable final boss, the Licker and infected dog. The practical effects and makeup are solid with a few suitably gory and grisly moments scattered throughout and Lisa Trevor’s costume and prosthetic work is genuinely eerie. The original score has bursts of grandiose gothic choir chimes, only to be consistently contrasted with frequent out of place needle drops.
What is immediately apparent is just how much the film relies on dropping the F-bomb, to the point where it becomes annoying, distracting and bordering on parody at times. Characters repeat it over and over or it’s just seemingly randomly dubbed in at certain points. Kayla Scodelario pretty much owns the film as Claire Redfield. She looks great in the role and effortlessly cuts a badass presence. Everyone else is fine, they are clearly enjoying themselves in the roles. I do feel they overdid Leon’s goofy amateur nature, but I think Avan Jojia does a good job here and shouldn’t have received the instantaneous fan backlash because he doesn’t look exactly like Leon. Familiar faces Donal Logue & Neal McDonough absolutely ham it up to 100.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City isn’t a bad adaptation at all, just a very mediocre one. From a visual and iconography standpoint the film is spot on and captures its source material brilliantly and there are bursts gory violent fun. However the largely poor dialogue, one note characters, thin plot motivations and rushed, choppy structure let it down.