Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Review

This is a spoiler-free review of Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, which opens in theaters on November 24.

When Sony announced that it was re-releasing the Resident Evil live-action film series, I was cautiously optimistic, curious to see how director Johannes Roberts would stick with the source material after a promising first trailer. Unfortunately, Welcome to Raccoon City is disappointing as a horror movie; in fact, at times it felt more like a comedy than something that would keep me on the edge of my seat. It has some interesting ideas, but between the cheesy writing that doesn’t do much justice to its finely sketched characters and a rushed third act, it’s going to be hard to see this one again as a fan of the series.

Resident Evil: Welcome to the Raccoon City plot adapts the stories from the first two Resident Evil games with a part of the story centering on Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen) and Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper ) as they explore the Spencer Mansion, while the other story centers on Leon Kennedy (Avan Jogia) and Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) as the duo search for a way out of Raccoon City before the city explodes. The cast is no problem, with solid acting from each one mostly suited to their fictional character counterparts. Plus, the post-credits scene certainly teases that we’ll see more than one specific character if a sequel is given the green light.

Despite Jogia’s good acting, there is a somewhat annoying problem with the way Leon is written here. His background has changed a bit, and he is still considered a “rookie member of the force” as he was in Resident Evil 2 (he was only a cop for a day in that game). However, most of the scenes with Leon made him either extremely incompetent or take the brunt of the joke, which can get frustrating and irritating, particularly if you’re a Leon S. Kennedy fan. I can appreciate the script leaning on his inexperience, but the gag quickly got boring, especially as we expect a darker, scarier movie of this.

Live-action versions of video game characters

However, my biggest concern going into the movie was the fact that I was interleaving the plots of two video games, and the relatively shortened runtime of 107 minutes makes the entire product feel extremely rushed once the third approaches. act. That said, I wasn’t expecting to be a beat-for-beat replay of the first two games, and why should it be? You can watch YouTube supercuts of all the scenes for that. Although the entire movie feels disappointing and overwhelming for how much they tried to pack, Roberts is worth giving credit for wanting to try to make a movie that had closer ties to gaming than any of Paul WS Anderson’s films. Still, it might have been a more realistic goal to focus on, say, the story of just one of the games rather than trying to figure out how many key plot points they could introduce in a short amount of time.

Meanwhile, the main stage, the titular Racoon City, is suitably intriguing. In the first act, Roberts establishes Raccoon City as a decaying city in economic chaos after Umbrella, the powerful and extremely influential corporation known for developing pharmaceuticals and weapons that leaves with a few employees. The atmosphere and various scenes that focus on the city itself really help to give a fresher look at this fictional location, and it would have been nice to see more about it as it mostly leaves a lot to your own interpretation.

In some cases, we see the impact that Umbrella had not only on the city, but also on the residents. The walls of the Raccoon City orphanage, for example, are littered with propaganda posters, and the Raccoon City Police Department has been reduced to a minimal crew due to budget cuts. These are subtle but clever ways to set the tone, and something, again, I would have liked to see more of, underscoring the double-edged sword that Umbrella was for this city before its inevitable destruction.

As for the main attraction, there are a decent amount of zombies (and other infected that gamers will recognize) on the screen, but don’t expect a ton of high-action undead death scenes. There’s one in particular that feels fun and edgy, but if you’re here for a constant barrage of zombie-fighting action, you’ll be disappointed.

Some enemies from the first pop-up game are fun to catch, including Lisa Trevor, the infected superhuman who appeared in the 2002 remake of Resident Evil. While she remains a tragic character adversely affected by Umbrella’s inhuman experiments, her screen time is disappointingly short, to the point that if she had been cut from the film entirely, it wouldn’t have much of an impact on the overall story.

Until the second act, when the infection begins to take over the city, there is a surprising lack of action. We see the zombies go through the door of the police station, but it’s a bummer not to get a prolonged look from them running through this chaotic city. Sure, Resident Evil 2’s main focus was mostly contained in the police station and a few other areas, but it felt like a missed opportunity to brag about how much damage was done to the city.

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