Full transparency, this is going to be both a review of Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City [WTRC] (I’m using that from now, the title is too long) as well as a speculative dive into whether or not it is actually the most true to the formula, videogame to movie adaptation.
Is 2021’s Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City, the definitive, closest to the formula, videogame to movie adaptation? The answer is an unquestionable, Yes. now this doesn’t mean movies like Sonic the Hedgehog or Detective Pikachu aren’t BETTER videogame movies, because they absolutely are. The main difference between Sonic, Detective Pikachu and Resident Evil WTRC is Resident Evil actively tries to replicate the origin story of the Resident Evil franchise by utilizing established characters, locations, and plot beats to drive the narrative. Sonic basically just takes the blue bomber and Dr. Robotnik and throws them into a modern day real world setting with arguably no ties to the games besides the…rings that lets Sonic teleport? Idk it makes no fucking sense but Sonic was an awesome movie. Detective Pikachu goes even further off the beaten path to create a completely different world and storyline. Both Sonic and Detective Pikachu, are inherently, BETTER MOVIES, but Resident Evil WTRC is a much better representation of the formula from the videogame franchise.
What It Does Right
Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City’s cast excelled at representing more from the rather dull characterizations we got of them from the original PS1 days. Acting selection wise I think every single one of the actors fit the characters well, maybe besides Jill Valentine. Avan Jogia played untrained rookie Leon Kennedy well enough to make me want to see him rescue the president’s daughter if they ever explore RE4 for the movie settings. Kaya Scodelario gave a good balance of witty humor and resourcefulness in her depiction of Claire Redfield. I genuinely think Robbie Amell is an underrate actor and as dry toast of a character, Chris Redfield can be at times, I still think Amell plays a good Chris. Neal McDonough might honestly be the perfect cast for William Birkin. I don’t know what the fuck it is about this guy but he just exudes, bad guy scientist energy in all of his roles and well…that’s William Birkin.
They did a great job of highlighting key locations from the videogame franchise and although they don’t fully flesh out each location, the visual representation of each was done very well. Seeing Leon sitting at the front desk of RPD as it shows the looping ramp around him and the statue behind got a smile out of me and how close it looked to the RE2 remake. Resident Evil WTRC wasn’t necessarily scary, but it created a good dark atmosphere showing the fallout of a giant malevolent pharmaceutical company destroying the town and lives of the people it created. The action was fine overall, the acting was fine overall, but what really made me appreciate WTRC was the attention to detail. They clearly did their research when writing the script for this movie and it shows in all of the callbacks and easter eggs thrown about and I thought it was a good way to give further back story to Chris and Claire as children.
What It Does Wrong
The casting was all done properly, but even with a good cast and fairly talented actors, the dialogue was pretty fucking bad in general. I enjoyed the way the actors delivered their lines, but the writing was just too a little uncanny for me even if the dialogue in the original games was hammy as fuck. I know I mentioned the casting for Jill Valentine and although I think she was cast perfectly fine, I think the writing for her character was the most astray from the depiction of Jill in the games. The weird lusting after Wesker angle didn’t make sense to me and Wesker was a coin flip anyway. I refuse to look up the actor for Wesker because he reminds me of the dude who played Lex Luthor from Smallville and I simply cannot distinguish between the two. He is either related to Michael Rosenbaum or is a carbon copy of him just jacked. Anyway, the guy was way too big and lean for Wesker. Make him a sneaky fucking snake of a guy and I’m fine. Continuing on the theme of them writing characters incorrectly, what the actual fuck were they trying to do with Lisa Trevors. Yeah her story is sad but it’s not like she’s some vigilante hero coming to save Claire. Fuck, in the games Claire shouldn’t even know who Lisa Trevors is, only Chris, Jill, or Barry would know her from Resident Evil 1.
Speaking of Barry, where the fuck is Barry Burton? Where the fuck is the rest of Alpha and Bravo team? I know what they were trying to do with Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City. They wanted to squish Resident Evil 1 and 2 together to try to make it one cohesive story. My problem with this is it would have made so much more sense to make two separate movies here to mesh timelines. Take the good parts of Resident Evil 0, I know there aren’t a ton, but let’s see Rebecca Chambers and Billy do some small story building AND THEN introduce the cast of Resident Evil 1 into the fray. Those two story lines coincide much better together than RE1 with RE2 taking place at the same time. Then take the narrative of RE2 and RE3 and mesh those together. It just feels like there is a lot missing here. I loved how they depicted the locations, but if you really want to make the gaming fandom drool, really explore every inch of the RPD and Spencer Mansion, then give us some of the iconic bosses from the franchise. Why is it so fucking crazy to want to see Yawn, Black Tiger and Neptune in a film adaptation? Make the RE0 and RE1 combo movie with the iconic locations and bosses and make the second movie focusing on RE2 and RE3, where you can introduce Mr. X and Nemesis and then we can start branching out into RE4 territory. That is the fan fodder we gamers lap up. Instead we get some really fucking awful CGI in a single licker and William Berkin. When I saw awful CGI, I mean, this CGI was BARELY better than the CGI done in the 2002 Resident Evil with Mila Jovovich.
Is It Worth Watching?
Was Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City a good movie? No, but it genuinely isn’t as bad as all the fucking never gamers on the internet writing hit pieces about it right now claim it to be. As a movie, Resident Evil WTRC is very mid. As a Resident Evil movie attempting to establish a new film franchise for a videogame series that was derailed by 26 Paul W.S Anderson movies trying to make his wife into some cross medium zombie super hero, yes it is a good movie. They did everything in their power to try to make WTRC feel as close to the games as possible and I truly applaud them for the amount of research that was put into it. My wish is they made two distinct movies based around the first 4 games in the franchise. Mesh RE0 and RE1 together into one movie with more depth and fan fare. Smash RE2 and RE3 together doing the same and further explore each location. There was a lot more they could have done, but I found Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City to be a good start to a hopefully much wider expanded film franchise in the future. So fuck the morons telling you not to go see it, if you are a fan of Resident Evil games, it is absolutely worth the watch. I’d suggest waiting to see it on demand in a few months, but don’t let the prissy “film critics” tell you otherwise.
p.s This is also now the definitive, game to movie adaptation for me which gives it more points, since it actually took so much from the games into consideration.
Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City Review
3 – William Berkin Eye Mutations – out of 5