This was a movie that I didn't know was coming, but upon learning of it, I was intrigued. I heard a few people saw this and enjoyed it. When I had a free night to go to the theater, I decided to see this since I'd seen most of the other Resident Evil movies at the cinema, whenever possible. I was a big fan of the games growing up as well. The synopsis here is set in 1998; this origin story explores the secrets of the mysterious Spencer Mansion and the ill-fated Raccoon City.
We start this off inside of an orphanage in Raccoon City. Claire (Lily Gail Reid) wakes up by hearing someone whispering, or at least she thinks someone is there. Sharing her bed is Chris (Daxton Gujral). He tells her it is her imagination and to go back to sleep before they get in trouble. Claire gets up and follows a noise to a room upstairs. It is there she meets Lisa Trevor (Marina Mazepa). She seems to be wearing a mask and reveals that she lives under the orphanage. This girl disappears and Claire is startled by William Birkin (Neal McDonough). He pushes as to why she is there and Chris comes to her aid, revealing he is her brother. He does compliment the boy on watching out for her. William seems troubled.
The movie then shifts to 1998. We know that the Umbrella Corporation started in this city but has pulled out. The city is dying and the only people left are too poor to leave. Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) is on her way to see her brother. She is with a truck driver who is making passes at her. It is raining hard and he doesn't see a woman that he hits with his truck. They get out to check on her, but she disappears into the woods. His dog does lick the ground where she was lying though. They continue to Raccoon City.
Also in this town is a Leon Kennedy (Avan Jogia). He's a rookie cop who after a mishap in training was sent here thanks to his powerful father. He hangs out in a local diner with members of the S. T. A. R. S. Team. They are special police officers, with them being Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen) and Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper) to name the more important ones. Their boss is Chief Irons (Donal Logue).
Claire goes to see her brother, Chris (Robbie Amell), who isn't all too happy to see her. He feels she abandoned him and we see that Chris kept a relationship with William as a mentor of sorts. Chris must go to work and when he leaves, we see there is something wrong in Raccoon City. His neighbors attack Claire. The Bravo team of S. T. A. R. S. Went to the Spencer Mansion, the original site of Umbrella, but no one has heard from them. Alpha team is sent in to check on them. As they do, a siren goes off, demanding that residents stay in their homes. Raccoon City becomes a battlefield as those not affected try to survive.
That is where I'm going to leave my recap for this movie. Where I want to start is that I loved the homage that was paid to the video games of Resident Evil 1 and 2. There are some changes that were made, but I can live with that. They are mashing the two together so it is to be expected. Almost every name on the cast list I recognize in some way, shape or form, unless they are just a minor character needed to progress the story. This is the movie that I wanted when Resident Evil came out in the early 2000s. Teenage me would have gone crazy. Now that I'm a bit older, I still enjoy the references, but I do have my issues as well.
Where I'll start is the positives, which is the story. I think it works. We are getting a lot of lore from the games here. We are seeing things like Lisa Trevor, which if memory serves for Resident Evil lore is technically patient zero. We also get to see the Ashford twins, which we don't get until 'Code Veronica'. This could be laying the groundwork for potential sequels. We also have two concurrent stories going. We have the story from the original game, with S. T. A. R. S. Alpha team going to see what happened with the Bravo team at the mansion. Going with this is the second game with Claire going to the police station where she meets Leon. These two of course end up together as the games do, to an extent. The nerd in me loves all this.
Where my problem goes is that I think we have too much story for a movie that runs less than two hours long. It is interesting just watching the Fear Street trilogy before my first viewing, because this might have worked better to break them into at least two different movies. I think you can have some of the stuff we get in the beginning here with Claire, Chris, Leon and the rest of the S. T. A. R. S. Members, but I want to see them exploring the mansion more than we get. I'd also like them to investigate in the police station a bit more. I understand that there are puzzles and what not, so mashing it together like we get makes sense. I think there's more story here to uncover about Umbrella and how deep the corruption goes in Raccoon City. This movie is setting the stage for a sequel by introducing things involving Ada Wong (Lily Gao), so I'm wondering if this will do well enough to keep going. I like what writer/director Johannes Roberts did. I do have a feeling though those hardcore fans of the games might not be happy with this.
The last thing for the story I'll go into would be the social commentary. We are seeing corruption here from capitalism. Everyone knows that Umbrella is this great company that is the leading producer of pharmaceuticals, but we see the problems as well. They are poisoning the water and not telling the citizens. They're also doing illegal research as well. This isn't anything new and we've seen this play out in the other movies from this video game line as well as from others outside of it. Big Pharma being something that people are speaking out about as well.
So, then I'll go over to the acting. I thought it was solid to be honest. I think that Scodelario makes a good Claire. She is suspicious about things from her childhood which works. I like that she is pushing her brother to see the truth, but he's a bit blind. I do think Amell makes for a good Chris. John-Kamen plays Jill different than I was expecting, but I liked it. Hopper makes for a good Wesker. He doesn't play it as villainous which is interesting with knowing this character's history and arch. I think there is room for growth to that. Jogia also doesn't play Leon as I would expect. It is different to make him bumbling. I can see why now after this viewing. It gives room for growth, but I'm not the biggest fan. Logue, McDonough, Gao, Mazepa and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed for me as well. No one here is great, we get some wooden acting, but it is more about the monsters and the action to be honest.
Next should be the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, this is important to these movies. I thought they did well. We are seeing the zombies in the beginning stages. It looks like they're mostly done up with make-up which is good. I like how they're still somewhat human, but just rabid. We get to see infected dogs and crows as well. There's CGI there, but it was fine. We also get to see a licker, which I thought was also good. The main monster is something created from the G-virus and it looked solid to me despite being mostly computers as well. I didn't have issues with any of this to be honest. It is heavy with the computer effects, which unless you just do zombies, there isn't much you can do. I think we get some great cinematography as well. There are so many shots taken from the games and the nerd part of me again, approves. The soundtrack also hit differently with another viewing. I've come up there.
In conclusion here, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It is fun and I think fans of the games will appreciate how faithful they try to be with giving us that story, even if it is just the glossed over version of the first two. Teenage version of me would have loved this. Adult me who watches more critical still had some issues. I think this would have been better served to split the story into two movies as it feels like it rushes through things. Regardless though, it still works me. I think the acting is good across the board. They do well in bringing these familiar characters to life. The effects were good to me, both practical and CGI. The cinematography does well in recreating shots from the games that I liked with the soundtrack adding to the atmosphere. I would have to say that this is an above average movie. Fixing some of my issues could have pushed this higher for sure. After my second viewing, I've come down slightly, but I still enjoyed it overall.
My Rating: 7 out of 10.
Solid Adaptation of the First Two Games (IMDB: 7)
On: 3/8/2022 12:00:00 AM By: Reviews_of_the_Dead