Okay, I will try not to fanboy too much with this review. Did I love the original Resident Evil film franchise? Yes, I will agree I did, but even I realised that the franchise went on a little too long and yes, it also had some weak films. But on the flipside, the original and Resident Evil: Extinction were two of the best action films to ever be made. Having said that, there was always a pretty big problem with the Resident Evil film franchise. While the films are good, anyone who had ever played the video games were very quick to point out that very few of the characters in the films were ever in the games.
That is why I have chosen to see the first film of the re-boot, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, as something fresh rather than proof that this franchise is harder to kill than a zombie Doberman. There is no Alice to be seen this time around, instead director/screenwriter Johannes Roberts has decided to give the characters from the games a life on the big screen.
I found the story itself pretty basic. After escaping their clutches years earlier Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) has discovered some pretty horrific information about the Umbrella Corporation. She returns to Raccoon City to warn her brother, local Police Officer Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), about what she has discovered – the town’s drinking water has become undrinkable.
However, when she returns to the city she discovers that the effects have already started to show within the town’s human population and while she receives a cold reception from her brother, soon the entire Police Force find themselves stretched to the limit when Umbrella’s warning system activates. Throw into the mix an incompetent Police Chief, Irons (Donal Logue), who refuses to acknowledge what is happening and a rookie cop, Leon (Avan Jogia) and soon everything is going to hell.
I won’t lie I found this film enjoyable. It had enough action sequences to keep me attentive and I found that the characters Claire and Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen) were interesting enough to keep the story moving along. But the film has some serious problems that prevents it from becoming a great film.
First of all, nothing happens here that we haven’t seen in the genre before. When the first Resident Evil movie came out, it was fresh. Zombies hadn’t been a thing for awhile, but of course now we’ve all just had ten years of The Walking Dead, a show I have to admit is pretty bloody perfect in the genre, and of course a myriad of smaller zombie films that have tried to capitalise on the zombie phenomenon.
The second issue is that director Johannes Roberts has decided for some strange reason to make Raccoon City a town rather than a city. That causes problems because soon the believability of having a fort like Police Station and a special unit of Police Officers (with their own helicopter) stationed in Raccoon City becomes pretty unlikely. That there then leads to the third issue of the special unit of Police Officers. Why do all the male members seem so similar?
I know complaining about believability in a genre film like this seems a little odd, but that is where The Walking Dead works. Yes, there are also flesh-eating zombies, but the world that they are in is believable. As an audience member, I could find myself relating to the situations that the characters were in, however, with Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, I never found that at all.
If Roberts had wanted this to be a plausible film, he needed to scale everything back or make Raccoon City an actual city that would require a large Police Force, because as is this is a film that while serviceable, offers nothing new to the genre. It has the feel of films like 30 Days of Night or Werewolves Within but not the originality to match them.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is really for the true Resident Evil fans. Casual cinema goers are going to pick this film apart in a moment, however, if you are a fan of the games, you are going to have the enjoyment of watching characters you’ve grown to love finally be brought to life on the big screen.