Another failed cinematic adaptation of the horror icon
When the RoboCop reboot was announced; my expectations were extremely low and for good reason. The original was a cinematic masterpiece while the sequels had butchered up Frank Miller’s screenplay while devoiding them of any artistic merit. So when I actually saw the reboot on opening night, my overall impression was that it was mediocre at best. While not an awful film compared to the sequels, it was a forgettable entry that left no lasting impression for anyone in the audience.
I bring this up as this was also the mindset I had walking into Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. My opinion of the Paul W. S. Anderson films has been the first one being an unwatchable abomination, the second one was a dumb but fun to watch film while everything else that followed has been a work of over-budgeted fan fiction. The difference between the RoboCop reboot and Welcome to Raccoon City is that I was still extremely disappointed.
One Night in Raccoon City
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City attempts to retell two of the most iconic stories in video games at the same time. The S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team is deployed to the Spencer Mansion to locate the missing Bravo Team. At the same time, Leon and Claire arrive just as the outbreak begins to spread through Raccoon City. Both groups attempt to uncover the truth while finding a way to escape the horror that has been unleashed.
To its credit, Welcome to Raccoon City story is one of the most faithful film adaptations of a video game. It puts some effort into respecting the source material while trying to retell a classic story. But, it quickly goes downhill in regards to structure and bringing the characters to life.
Regarding to telling the story, it took the “Batman vs. Superman” approach of crafting an adaptation by mashing two iconic stories together into one film. This is a terrible approach as it fails to set the groundwork for the lore to grow through a film series. Worst for the fans and the audience, Johannes Roberts is no Zack Snyder (while comparing the two would be an insult to Snyder’s legacy). This should have been the foundation of a series by retelling the Mansion Incident through the cinematic arts. Instead, it has two plots that are rushing to tell their story (while held together through unnecessary elements) with the end result being an incoherent film.
The depiction of the characters is no better. Many of them have lost the iconic attires that have defined them, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Almost all of them have been devoid of the personality traits that made them so memorable. Jill and Claire are not the strong-willed characters as in the game while Leon has been reduced to the role of comic relief. Most also aren’t given enough time to have any impact on the story.
Another Failed Expermint
Like so many movie adaptations of video games, the root causes of its problems come down to the project being handed out to a director/screenwriter with a resume of failure and mediocrity. Thus nobody should be surprised that this train wreck is the end result. Resident Evil is a franchise that has the potential to grow its own successful film series. Unfortunately, quality control seems to always be an afterthought on Capcom’s part.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City should have been a second attempt at making the ideal film of the iconic game series. Instead, it makes all the same mistakes that have plagued every other video game film. Until Capcom decides to put the same amount of effort as Marvel does for the MCU, fans should not expect anything worth their time.
Disclaimer: I saw this movie in theaters and bought my ticket.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.