Fellow Resident Evil fans, our time has come! The Sony Pictures Entertainment reboot Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is here for us to consume! Johannes Roberts takes the story back to its roots by reintroducing us to Capcom’s first two games, Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2. His goal was to create a movie that was closer to the canon of the franchise but still had its own unique feel that would appeal to both longtime fans and newcomers to the franchise. So does it meet his goal? Keep reading to find out!
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. Please proceed with caution!
I have been very vocal about my dislike for the original set of Resident Evil films. With a franchise that features more lore than we know what to do with, it changed far too many things for my liking. Thankfully, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City doesn’t fall into this trap. That being said, don’t go into this film expecting an exact recreation of the game story. The film takes some liberties like Chris (Robbie Amell) and Claire’s (Kaya Scodelario) connection to Raccoon City, the state of the city and how the events of the two games take place at the exact same time.
But, oddly enough, these changes work for the overall story. It is close enough to the canon lore but has enough change that will keep you interested and invested through till the very end. And don’t just take that from a hardcore Resident Evil franchise fan. My friend (who has never seen or played any of the movies and games and refers to herself as a pleb) was heavily invested in the plot and the twists and turns within Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. Proof enough that Roberts was able to create a film that can pull new viewers into the franchise and maybe one day I will get her to play one of the games.
But how does it rank with longtime fans of the series? Personally, I loved it. I was initially worried that squeezing the two plot lines into one film would take away from either side. But, Roberts balances both the Spencer Mansion storyline and RPD storyline rather well. With the changes to the storyline, it flows pretty easily. We see Chris, Jill (Hannah John-Kamen), Wesker (Tom Hopper) and the rest of team alpha’s mission while also bouncing back and forth with Claire and Leon’s (Avan Jogia) search for the others. While Claire and Chris are clearly the main characters, we do get the chance to spend quite a bit of time with our secondary characters as well.
The main bad guy of the film is, of course, Umbrella. But, it pulls in William Birkin (Neal McDonough) as the “final boss” of the film. I loved the nods to his boss fight within Resident Evil 2, including the massive amount of eyes our heroes had to shoot at and the final train scene. And this isn’t the only nod to the video game throughout Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. I am here to say that I did not riot in the theater. We got our “Jill Sandwich” reference plus nods to Leon’s original outfit, among other things. It was like a fun easter egg hunt for everything that tied into the video games.
However, I was left a tad bit disappointed in the lack of additional zombies and bioweapons and overall action within the film. The Resident Evil franchise has been known for its massive amounts of different enemies ranging from regular shambling zombies to lickers and even Mr. X and Nemesis. And unfortunately, we only get to see a single licker, an infected dog and regular zombies before finally getting the chance to see mutated Birkin. No Mr. X stalking Claire and Leon in this one. But since most of the film’s beginning was story-based, we don’t get action until later on. But, when we do finally see some, it is incredibly satisfying.
Now, we need to talk about the elephant in RPD. And that was the casting. Initially, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the bulk of the casting. As a longtime fan of the series, I always had my dream cast for each of the characters. And, none of the actors/actresses in the film appeared on that list. However, I am happy to share that Roberts knocked this one out of the park. And I know what you are thinking: Jogia looks more like Carlos than Leon, but his performance as our favorite rookie cop was one of the best in the film. Each of the cast members fit their roles well, which helped bring them to life. Plus, the changes to the story brought changes to the characters themselves and helped expand them past the games.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City may have faltered quite a bit, but overall it was an enjoyable watch and I would definitely see it again. There are tons to enjoy for longtime fans and newcomers to the franchise. If you are even the least bit interested in the film, I highly suggest that you go check it out. Hopefully, Roberts will be given the chance to continue his story with more films in the future! Have you gotten the opportunity to check out Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City? What are your thoughts on the film? Let us know in the comments below and on social media!
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