Director: Johannes Robert
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Avan Jogia, Tom Hopper, Donal Logue
Malaysia - 25 November
Singapore - 2 December
Philippines: 15 December
2 out of 5 stars
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - video game movies generally suck.
Zombies and zombie movies have always held a special place in my heart, and director Johannes Robert’s reboot of Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City’s new video game adaptation fails rather miserably, even though it has faithfully and rigorously adapted from the famous game’s source material.
This is the latest in the series of Resident Evil movies, and many of its kind have come and gone before, some of them succeeding to a much greater degree in my opinion. Milla Jovovich’s Alice in the original 2002 Resident Evil was deliciously compelling and brilliantly horrific, but for all the modern CGI and make-up in this current reboot, it’s disappointing in terms of storytelling.
Unlike the mindless, shambling biters of The Walking Dead or the sprinting zombies in Train To Busan, the Resident Evil’s ravening departed retain some mockery of sentience before they turn completely, and seem to be very fond of breaking through every pane of glass that they come across.
Our protagonist Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) comes across her first zombie when she gets into a truck to hitchhike to Raccoon City. A lone Sadako-like figure stands eerily in the middle of a deserted highway, until the vehicle rams into it.
The corpse mysteriously disappears when Claire goes over to inspect the scene, but the driver’s dog laps up the blood left behind on the road, which will eventually come to bite our protagonists in the butt, literally.
We find out that Claire has come back to visit her hometown, only to realise that Umbrella Corporation, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, has moved out from Raccoon City which it formerly used as its headquarters.
Yet, there is something sinister that lingers after the company has left. Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia), a novice policeman newly recruited into the force, notices that the waitress in the local diner has blood leaking out of her eyes.
Claire manages to barge into her brother Chris's (Robbie Amell) home, but notices that his neighbours have been glaring at her from their windows, looking grotesquely bald and shedding tears of blood.
Things get out of hand when Claire and Leon find themselves barricaded together in the local police station as the denizens of the abandoned city attempt to seek help from law enforcement to reverse their zombification.
Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City is yet another video game adaptation that is driven by plot and not characterisation, which probably explains why the characters end up with thinly developed personas and given terse, unrelatable dialogue, which is breathlessly rampant throughout as they try and evade the mindless hordes clawing for their brains.
I should also explain that one Resident Evil game alone could possibly take up hundreds of hours of gameplay, stuffed full with background stories, lore and more importantly, the first person interaction with your character that a movie can't possibly distil in less than two hours.
Diehard fans of the Resident Evil series will be pleased to recognise famous landmarks in the movie that are replicated almost perfectly from the second instalment of the game — the Raccoon City Orphanage that Claire and Chris grew up in, the Raccoon City police station where many players would have spent hours solving puzzles while at the same time avoiding the constant and menacing presence of Mr. X, an elite zombie that follows you everywhere (but unfortunately does not appear in the movie), and the labyrinthine Spencer Mansion bristling with traps and locking mechanisms.
Yet, after the movie escalated into all-hell-has-broken-loose tropes and my eardrums were bombarded by the discordant fingernails-on-chalkboard screeches of horror music veteran Mark Korven's score, suffice to say that this zombie movie will not have my brains.
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